Coal-to-Nuclear Wyoming Project Breaks Ground

Coal-to-Nuclear Wyoming Project Breaks Ground

On June 10, the first ever coal-to-nuclear project broke ground in Kemmerer, Wyoming. More than 500 IBEW LU 322 construction members will build the historic project, and TerraPower will retrain the existing IBEW utility workforce to operate it.

TerraPower is building the $4 billion commercial power plant on the site of a coal plant that  provided IBEW utility jobs for generations. The project is funded in part by $2 billion from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The law has brought billions in investments to union towns like Kemmerer since it was signed in 2021.

Terra Power’s commitment to using IBEW’s existing workforce for the new “Natrium” plant is proving a worker-first transition from fossil fuel to new nuclear is possible. Once online, the plant will provide “dispatchable carbon-free energy, gigawatt-scale energy storage and long-term jobs,” said Chris Levesque, TerraPower president and CEO.

Good union jobs is what many are looking for. “Now I’ve got people all over the country calling to say, I want to be on that job,” Local 322 business manager Jerry Payne told the New York Times. “It means a lot to Kemmerer and the IBEW.”

The feeling is mutual. TerraPower officials appreciated the IBEW’s support for the project, said  Eighth District international representative Nicole Loundagin. “TerraPower Board members noted that none of this would be possible without organized labor and the IBEW,” she said. “TerraPower is very proud to be pro-union.” 

They are also very excited. TerraPower founder and former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates said on X: “I’ve been waiting for this day for nearly 20 years: Today, we broke ground on the first-ever Natrium plant. This is a big step towards safe, abundant, zero-carbon energy.

“I believe TerraPower’s next-generation nuclear energy will power the future of our nation – and the world,” Gates said.

IBEW members who attended the groundbreaking included:

  • Kevin Owen – Salt Lake City, Utah LU 57 business manager 
  • Jerry Payne – Casper, Wyoming, LU 322 business manager 
  • Chad Lemmon – Casper, Wyoming LU 322 assistant business manager 
  • Brandon Nichols – Casper, Wyoming LU 322 executive board member
  • Nicole Loundagin – Eighth District international representative

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