California\u2019s global warming law--and the prospect that other western states are about to emulate it--is sparking renewed interest in building nuclear power plants. The plans are expected to dovetail with California\u2019s greenhouse gas reduction law, with the nuclear power expected to replace baseload coal power in the West. Developers of at least one plant definitely are \u201ceying\u201d the California market as the state\u2019s climate change law AB 32 takes effect. AB 32, the state\u2019s greenhouse reduction law, requires the state to cut its emissions 30 percent by 2020. California has banned utilities from renewing any long-term coal power purchase contracts unless plants are outfitted with carbon capture and sequestration technology. The California Air Resources Board suggests it might even try to require state utilities to abrogate their coal power purchase agreements before they expire--that is if California doesn\u2019t keep pace with its greenhouse gas reduction goals. While state utilities face clear-cut restrictions on continued use of coal power, purchasing nuclear power from out of state is another matter, noted California Energy Commission spokesperson Percy Della. Until a permanent nuclear waste storage facility is sited by the federal government, state law bans constructing any new nuclear power plants within California, he explained. But, the state has \u201cno restriction\u201d on utility investments or purchases involving new nuclear plants built out of state. Both Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison have told investors that they are interested in out-of-state nuclear power. In the coming year, restrictions on future use of coal power may widen in the West as a consortium of states, known as the Western Climate Initiative, is expected to ink an agreement to that effect. Under the coalition, each state would restrict greenhouse gas emissions within its borders. The prospect spurred Arizona Public Service, that state\u2019s largest utility, to examine whether it should build new nuclear generating capacity to meet its power needs, according to Dan Wool, spokesperson for the utility. The discussion is taking place in the context of the utility\u2019s update to its master resource plan. APS operates the much-plagued Palo Verde nuclear facility. Edison takes delivery of 16 percent of the plant\u2019s output. While prospective developers are examining several potential projects, one on the front burner is the 3,000 MW Blue Castle Generation Project planned for Utah. The developer, Transition Power Development, notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission it plans to file a licensing application for the proposed plant in April 2010. Transition secured water rights for the plant, which is expected to be built in Green River, Utah, about 40 miles from major transmission lines that now move power produced by two coal power plants to urban markets. \u201cI\u2019m sure they\u2019re eyeing the California market because of AB 32 and what it did to the coal markets,\u201d said Tim Wagner, Sierra Club of Utah smart energy program director. However, he said, Utah itself has enough solar and geothermal potential to meet its future energy needs without a nuclear power plant. \u201cIt\u2019s clear the strong non-emitting generation needs of the West are part of our business strategy,\u201d Tom Retson, Transition Power Development president, told Circuit. \u201cThe vision from the beginning was the industry and regulatory environment is changing,\u201d said Retson, who once worked for General Electric as an engineer. \u201cCalifornia is on the forefront.\u201d The Transition Power Development team includes Nils Diaz, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair, and Utah state lawmaker Aaron Tilton, who serves as chief executive officer of the company. Ron Graber, a former GE nuclear economist, also is a principal. Rounding out the Transition Power Development team is Reed Searle, who left the Intermountain Power Authority, which operates two major coal plants that deliver power to the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. Before stepping down as the head of the authority, Searle had tried to open a third coal plant at its Intermountain Power Project in Utah, but the effort staggered when LADWP bowed out to dedicate itself instead to pursuing renewable power to meet its future energy needs. The authority\u2019s experience was not unique, observed Retson. He noted that most coal projects have been \u201cdelayed or terminated\u201d in the face of looming greenhouse gas restrictions. Transition Power Development is planning to build two reactors using yet to-be-determined reactor technology, said Retson. The company plans to pursue a simultaneous construction and operational license under the Nuclear Regulatory Commission\u2019s new combined license process. Support for nuclear power in the state of Utah is split, according to Wagner. Many members of the state Legislature favor developing a nuclear power plant, he noted. V. John White, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology executive director, is skeptical about the prospects for new nuclear plants. He predicts projects, such as Blue Castle, will be unable to attract private financing. Ultimately, he said, they will have to be government guaranteed to go forward. Meanwhile, he said, that the West offers abundant renewable energy resources. Wagner added that renewable energy projects can be built for less money and far more quickly than new nuclear power plants. However, others are considering nuclear power development too. In its resource plan update, Arizona Public Service is examining a variety of scenarios to meet its future needs, including renewable energy development and energy efficiency, but also new gas and nuclear power plants. In a nuclear scenario under discussion as the utility updates its plan, Arizona Public Service would build two new reactors by 2019 that would generate a combined 934 MW of power at a cost of $3.5 billion. Wool notes that Arizona is a fast-growing state. The utility relies on a variety of power plants, including gas plants, the Palo Verde nuclear plant, and two coal power plants. It is pursuing renewable technologies, but has yet to rule out developing more nuclear generation capacity. However, its water resources to cool the plants are limited. To the north, The Idaho Energy Complex is proposing a $4.5 billion commercial nuclear power plant\/bio-fuel generation facility in Elmore County, Idaho. The electricity would meet Idaho\u2019s projected growth, according to the company. Excess heat would be used to produce ethanol and methane from local crops and agricultural waste.