You likely heard the news that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is looking to invest in a nuclear power plant in Wyoming, and that they're hoping to use a retiring coal plant for the project. Could something similar be done in Colstrip, Montana?

We caught up with a nuclear power expert, who also happens to be a Montana native, and asked her that very question.

Zabrina Johal grew up in Billings, Montana, got bored studying pre-med, and eventually got recruited in to the Navy Nuclear Program. Now she's considered a "titan of nuclear" who heads up the business development division for General Atomics.

First, she talked about what they're looking to do in Wyoming:

Johal: What they want to do is they want to bring in new nuclear because it brings in well paid, high tech jobs. And so the current workforce that's in Wyoming can directly be transferred over to these new potential plants. That's the number one thing- keeping the workforce going.  The number two thing is- the existing infrastructure parallels well over into these new new nuke plants. And so that's why it's economic in terms of thinking about- how do you take something that they're decommissioning anyway, and paralleling it into something new and something exciting and carbon free.

Could a similar concept work in Colstrip, Montana?

Johal: Coal generates heat. Nuclear generates heat too. But it's all of that other infrastructure around the heat generation to actually create electricity- that's all the same. So that workforce stays the same...and the more we think about these coal plants that are already retiring anyway throughout the nation, trying to bring in and not displace the workforce I think is really important.

Click below for audio of the full conversation:

 

Read More: Billings Native a "Titan of Nuclear" Power [AUDIO] |

 

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