‘Things are moving’ along with nuclear plant

By Rana Jones, Gazette Reporter
Posted 3/26/24

KEMMERER — Coming out of a busy winter and poised for growth in the community this spring, Kemmerer City Administrator Brian Muir told the Gazette , “I think we are more ready. Housing is …

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‘Things are moving’ along with nuclear plant


KEMMERER — Coming out of a busy winter and poised for growth in the community this spring, Kemmerer City Administrator Brian Muir told the Gazette, “I think we are more ready. Housing is where we are spending our time.” Muir refers to two housing development projects scheduled to begin this summer on different sides of town.

One of these is the Gateway PUD, which in phase one of the development will consist of around 145 houses, including more than 80 townhomes, built on the north side of town off Canyon Road, adjacent to the cemetery.

In a zoning board meeting last week, the developer requested to waive the need to have natural gas hookups. They are opting instead to have electric energy, but the zoning board turned down their request to eliminate natural gas.

Muir said the discussion turned to affordable utilities, stating that homeowners may want to have a choice when it comes to utilities because rates can fluctuate depending on the market.

The zoning board leaned toward keeping natural gas as the main heating source, but Muir said the conversation will probably be on the city council meeting agenda for next month.

“The council will have the final say on that. They will have to make a difficult decision,” he said.      

Another development south of Kemmerer would sit on 291 acres, which Muir said is shovel-ready. The design includes multifamily housing, retail and a truck stop. The project would be completed in phases over a period of years, with the first phase potentially including a portion of the multi-family housing and the truck stop.   

Muir continues to work with TerraPower, which plans to begin excavation for the nuclear plant test facility outside of Kemmerer. He met with company representative Rita Meyer and gave updates about developments downtown.

“The downtown is coming alive,” he said. He mentioned businesses that have been making improvements in the Triangle, including the Opera House Store, Bootleggers Restaurant and Fossil Fuel Coffee. Incoming businesses in the works include a bakery and legal services in the Wilcox building, and Wyoming Radiance Spa Infusions plans to relocate to a building next to the Victory Theater in the Triangle.

Muir and Meyer also discussed upcoming jobs with the nuclear plant. Muir said engineers are working on the project remotely, but there are already boots on the ground in Kemmerer working on training for future positions with the plant.

Currently, the company has jobs that are in Kemmerer posted on their website.

“There is a lot of work behind the scenes where people are getting geared up,” Muir said. He explained TerraPower is ramping up to hire people so they’ll be ready to go with trained employees when the plant opens.

Muir said he understands the need to train for these technical positions and, therefore, has been involved in the Intermountain-West Nuclear Energy Corridor (INEC) Grant, which aims at advancing nuclear energy technology in the region.

Working with various stakeholders including the Idaho National Laboratory, College of Eastern Idaho, Western Wyoming Community College, University of Wyoming, and the state of Wyoming to get funding, Muir and others were able to apply for approval of a nuclear training facility in Kemmerer.

Muir is from Idaho Falls, home to Idaho National Laboratory and birthplace of peaceful nuclear power, which has been advancing safe, reliable energy since 1949, he said. He has knowledge of what a nuclear community can become and said he hopes Kemmerer can get funds from the INEC grant as well as gain experience working with nuclear pioneers in the region.

“We can all work together to increase jobs in the corridor, including ancillary jobs in the nuclear industry,” Muir said. 

Muir plans to attend the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA) Conference this spring, which helps educate communities considering nuclear of its advantages. Informing Meyer of the invitation, Muir said the TerraPower rep was excited about the opportunities the conference would offer.

Muir also said he’s excited about the upcoming growth for Kemmerer, although when he took the job as city administrator, the town was in economic uncertainty with the threat of the coal mine shutting down.

It was after his move to Kemmerer that TerraPower announced its plans and Muir has been on board from the get-go.

“It is exciting and has rejuvenated the economy,” he said. “Growth comes with the side effects of change, but it is exciting. Things are moving.”