"Hundreds of coal plants have been shutting due to competition from cheap natural gas and falling costs for renewable power, resulting in massive job losses in communities that depend on mining and power generation. Since 2010 more than 250 U.S. coal-fired power plants have shut.
'I see those sites as very viable small modular reactor (SMR) sites,' Jeff Lyash, president and chief executive of the Tennessee Valley Authority, or TVA, said during a virtual Atlantic Council event.
TVA first started using coal-fired plants in the 1950s, but has begun to retire older, less efficient units in keeping with its commitment to generate cleaner energy. It has three traditional nuclear reactors.
'Shut coal power plants would be ripe for SMR development because of their available water resources and existing power grid connections,' Lyash said.
China's HTR-PM reactor (control room in photo), scheduled to go on line later this year, was a project begun in 2012 to convert a small coal plant to nuclear power. The intent was to address chronic pollution from coal plants in Chinese cities. Though pollution in American cities isn't as severe, another problem in Southeastern states is: unemployment.