Friday, August 23, 2019

Idaho Innovation Center announces classes for small business

The Idaho Innovation Center is holding several classes and workshops aimed at helping small businesses. A non-profit business incubator, IIC regularly partners with the Small Business Development Center and the Regional Development Alliance to assist business owners with business needs. Consultation and counseling are provided for free.

If you are interested in these services, call (208) 523-1026 to set up an appointment.

Here is a list of upcoming events.

Aug. 30, 10:30-noon: New tax law and financial strategies for small business. Register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cultivating-your-business-tax-financial-strategies-for-smallbusinesstickets-69217119267

Sept. 9, 6-9 p.m.: QuickBooks class. Meets 9/9, 9/11, 9/16, 9/18, 9/23. Fee:  $199

Sept. 18, noon-2 p.m.: Elevating Your Business class. Meets every Wednesday for 7 weeks. A fun class that will help you learn to market your business more effectively. Fee: $149

Sept. 27, 10:30-noon: Human Resources for Small Business. Free workshop. Registration through Eventbrite mid-September.

Oct. 25, 10:30-noon: Advertising and Marketing. FreeE workshop. Registration through Eventbrite mid-October.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Center for Advanced Energy Studies to receive NuScale control room simulator

Young guests SCRAM a NuScale Power Module on a control room simulator during a Friends & Family Day in Oregon. The Center for Advanced Energy Studies in Idaho Falls is slated to get a NuScale simulator in the next year, courtesy of a grant announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday it has awarded three grants to support the installation of NuScale reactor plant simulators at Oregon State University, Texas A&M University-College Station, and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) in Idaho Falls.

NuScale is the Corvallis, Oregon-based company that is collaborating with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) on the Carbon Free Power Project. The project involves installation of 12 small modular reactors (SMRs) at Idaho National Laboratory's desert site by the mid-2020s. The facility will be capable of generating 720 megawatts of electricity. NuScale’s technology is the world’s first and only SMR to undergo design certification review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is scheduled to complete its design review by September 2020.

The DOE grants are for $843,986 total, of which $285,763 is to build the Idaho Falls simulator at CAES, on MK Simpson Boulevard. CAES is a consortium made up of Idaho National Laboratory, University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Boise State University and University of Wyoming.

"Housing the simulator at CAES in will facilitate collaboration with four university research institutions and experts in these fields at INL," said Richard Christensen, the lead collaborator from UI. "This simulator acquisition for these efforts is consistent with the UI's land grant mission to strengthen teaching, scholarly, and creative capacities statewide through new research pathways."

NuScale’s reactor simulator is a virtual nuclear power plant control room that includes an interface that accepts input from operators and displays parameters simulating plant response. The simulator facilitates research into human factors engineering, human-system interface design, advanced diagnostics, cyber security and plant control room automation. When completed, the simulator facilities will be used for research, education, K-12 outreach and public advocacy regarding nuclear power and small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

National Reactor Innovation Center or "NRTS 2.0"? INL gets back to its nuclear roots

U.S. Sens. Jim Risch, left, and Mike Crapo, right, were on hand for the press conference Wednesday announcing the National Reactor Innovation Center coming to Idaho National Laboratory. Between them are DOE-Idaho Director Robert Boston (left) and INL Director Mark Peters. (Photo courtesy eastidahonews.com).
Before the more 21st century-sounding National Reactor Innovation Center was decided on, Idaho National Laboratory Director Mark Peters said he was entertaining “NRTS 2.0” as a name.

NRTS stands for National Reactor Testing Station, which came to eastern Idaho in 1949 with the Atomic Energy Commission and later became INL. In a way, Wednesday’s announcement that INL would be the official home of NRIC marked a return to the lab’s roots, which have never completely gone away.

Over the past 70 years, NRTS/INL was home to 52 reactors, only four of which remain in operation. What Wednesday’s announcement means is that INL is going to be the place for nuclear collaboration between the public and private sectors. That is already happening with the Carbon Free Power Project, which involves INL, NuScale, an Oregon-based subsidiary of Fluor, Inc., and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), a consortium of municipally owned electrical utilities, one of which is Idaho Falls Power. If all goes as planned, NRIC will be the site for 12 of NuScale’s prefabricated small modular reactors (SMRs). Licensing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is well under way, and a startup is anticipated for the mid-2020s.

The NuScale project is anticipated to create around 1,000 construction jobs to eastern Idaho, with a few hundred after the project has gone online. A lot of companies are watching the NuScale/UAMPS project very closely. Aside from the actual reactors, Idaho stands to benefit further from becoming a supply chain hub, Peters said at a press conference Wednesday, also attended by Idaho U.S. Sens, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.

NRIC has also been designated as the site for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR), a fast-neutron source the DOE has deemed necessary for the next generation of nuclear reactors. Unlike light water reactors and pressurized water reactors, advanced reactors will be cooled by materials such as molten salt and thorium. They offer the possibility of burning spent nuclear fuel from LWRs and PWRs, and thus a solution to the waste disposal problem that continues to dog nuclear development in the United States. But before anything can happen, a lot of testing has to be done and a domestic source of fast neutrons is necessary. This is what Experimental Breeder Reactor-II did at Argonne National Laboratory-West between 1964 and 1994, before it was shut down.

“It’s hard to put an exact number on the amount of reactors that will be demonstrated here,” Peters said. “We’re talking to a lot of companies who have approached the laboratory and the department. I think there are a lot of interested players out there in the nuclear energy space.”

Also on hand for the announcement Wednesday was William D. Magwood IV, director-general of the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), an intergovernmental agency under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Magwood was DOE’s Director of Nuclear Energy 20 years ago when he announced at an Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Meeting that INL (then INEEL) had been designated the department’s lead nuclear laboratory.

As the Post Register’s business reporter at the time, I was covering that meeting and cynically thought to myself, “There’s a prize of dubious value.” Nuclear in the United States was at a low ebb in the late 1990s, so it wasn't unreasonable to think this.

A lot has happened in 20 years, but 20 to 30 years is how long it takes anything to happen in the nuclear industry, Peters said. Nuclear energy research in the U.S. might have been hanging on by a thread in 1999, but the threat of climate change and global warming was beginning to register in more and more minds, making carbon-free energy alternatives like nuclear a lot more appealing. In fact, it was a panel of scientific advisers who told President Bill Clinton to keep the nuclear option open.

In 2000, INEEL, Bechtel and Oregon State University researchers began a three-year project called the Multi-Application Small Light Water Reactor (MASLWR), which would become the basis for NuScale.

I have given up on writing stories quoting anyone predicting what they think is going to happen, near- or long-term. But the announcement that INL is returning to its nuclear roots is a big story with big implications for the region.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Idaho Falls Fiber adding new service areas

Idaho Falls Fiber announced Monday that residents on Sycamore Circle, Hickory Lane, Hickory Court, Hickory Circle, Tuscany Drive, Burgundy Drive and Napa Drive can now connect to the Idaho Falls Fiber Network. Customers may sign-up for service or check availability at www.idahofallsfiber.com or call IFF Customer Service at 208-612-8725.

The Residential Fiber Pilot Program officially launched in March with service available to customers between the south side of 17th Street and 21st Street and between Rollandet and South Boulevard, along with the Carriagegate and Waterford subdivisions.

Idaho Falls Fiber has partnered with four local Internet providers, Direct Communications, Qwk.net, Silver Star, and SUMO Fiber, to offer residents a variety of services and pricing. Once residents have signed up for service and selected their provider, Idaho Falls Fiber will schedule a site survey with the customer for the installation of the actual fiber to the residence. Once the fiber is installed, the local Internet provider will begin Internet service.

Construction continues in the third phase of the pilot program as contractors complete electrical and communication infrastructure upgrades. These upgrades, will not only provide access to high-speed Internet with Idaho Falls Fiber, but help Idaho Falls Power better maintain electric service reliability to the homes. Although currently in the pilot phase, customers who sign up will continue to have service even if the network does not expand citywide. There is currently no connection charge for the installation of the fiber line to a home under the pilot program so residents can take advantage of the opportunity the pilot offers to get a fiber connection into the home at no cost.

Pilot program residents should also note that Spliggity, a contractor for Idaho Falls Fiber, will be accessing utility easements to complete work in conjunction with the fiber network upgrade.

Idaho Falls Power and Idaho Falls Fiber expresses their deepest appreciation to customers within the pilot program for their patience and cooperation, especially during this construction phase.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Arbor holding open house through Friday

A promotional shot for The Arbor, a new wedding and reception center at 665 John Adams Parkway.
The Arbor, the event room and ballroom at the AmeriHealth Event Center, 665 John Adams Parkway, is holding an open house this week through Friday. Hours are noon to 7 p.m. every day.

Situated in what used to be First Baptist Church, construction started in July. The remodeling of the late-'50s era structure includes restoration of the hard wood floors to their original state, chandeliers and additional decorative lighting, and curtains and drapes to modify the light from the large stained glass windows.

The center will feature customizable backdrops and venue decoration options, completing bride and groom rooms and landscaping the property. Discounts are available to anyone who wishes to rent prior to the remodeling's completion. Call (208) 520-0247 or email Events@TheArborEventCenter.com for more information.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

DOE files for Versatile Test Reactor environmental impact statement

An artistic rendering of what the Versatile Test Reactor could look like.
The U.S. Department of Energy on Monday announced it has filed a notice of intent to develop an Environmental Impact Statement in its effort to build a Versatile Test Reactor by the mid-2020s. VTR's purpose is to test future fuels and materials for use in advanced power reactors.

Idaho National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in eastern Tennessee have been identified as possible locations for VTR. In addition, INL and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina are two locations being considered for the fabrication of the fuel needed to run the reactor.

“This testing capability is essential for the United States to modernize its nuclear energy infrastructure and for developing transformational nuclear energy technologies that reduce waste generation and enhance nuclear security,” U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a press release.  “Lack of a domestic reactor with versatile fast-neutron-spectrum testing capability is a significant national strategic risk affecting the ability of DOE to fulfill its mission to advance the energy, environmental, and nuclear security of the United States and promote scientific and technological innovation.”

Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), an EIS is a necessary step for any major project like VTR. "Beginning the NEPA process at this time will ensure that all environmental factors are considered before the department makes a final decision to move forward with the project,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal.

“DOE needs to develop this capability on an accelerated schedule to avoid further delay in the United States’ ability to develop and deploy advanced nuclear energy technologies,” she said. “If this capability is not available to U.S. innovators as soon as possible, the ongoing shift of nuclear technology dominance to other international states such as China and the Russian Federation will accelerate, to the detriment of the U.S. nuclear industrial sector."

During the first steps of this NEPA process, DOE invites the public to comment now through September 4 on what the department should include in the scope of the EIS draft version. Following that, the draft EIS analysis will be published and the public invited to comment on it for 45 days. DOE will evaluate comments before the EIS is made final. When final, the EIS will be published and made available to the public for 30 days before the department can issue a record of decision.

In addition to gathering written comments, DOE will host two interactive webcast scoping meetings to provide information about the VTR and the NEPA processes and gather oral and written comments. The webcast scoping meetings will be held Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. MDT and Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. MDT. To join the webcast scoping meetings by phone, participants can call toll-free in the United States at 877-869-3847.

Broulim's acquires Teton Clinical Pharmacy

Broulim’s Fresh Foods has acquired Teton Clinical Pharmacy and will expand services across eastern Idaho.

The acquisition became official Monday, according to a news release. The Teton Pharmacy on Jafer Court will close but Broulim’s will operate Teton locations on 17th Street in Ammon and West Broadway in Idaho Falls.

“The merging of these two local pharmacy businesses will increase access to healthcare services across southeast Idaho,” Broulim’s Pharmacy Supervisor Marcus Hurs said in the news release. “Teton Pharmacy’s bubble packing, compounding, and delivery services will be added to the Broulim’s locations. Broulim’s point-of-care services will be added to the newly acquired Teton pharmacy locations.”

Customers with Teton or Broulim’s will now be able to pick up prescriptions at any of the combined ten pharmacy locations. Patients can be screened for conditions and prescribed medications by the pharmacist to treat strep throat, urinary tract infections, flu, cold sores, and travel sickness prevention, with more services being planned for the future.

The 17th street location will be remodeled to make room for a new compounding room and bubble packing operation, with Joe Brown as the pharmacy manager. The Broadway location will undergo a few minor changes, with Michelle Misko as manager.

Pharmacy records for the Teton Pharmacy on Jafer Court will be transferred to the Broulim’s Fresh Foods at 2730 E. Sunnyside in Ammon.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Bank of Idaho continues expansion in Treasure Valley

Alan Mullins
Idaho Falls-based Bank of Idaho continues its expansion in the Treasure Valley with the announcement of a loan production office (LPO), now open in downtown Nampa’s Historic Library building at 101 11th  Avenue, Suite 215, Idaho Falls-based Bank of Idaho continues its expansion in the Treasure Valley with the announcement of a Loan Production Office (LPO), in downtown Nampa’s Historic Library building. The new office will offer a complete slate of commercial lending options.

“Bank of Idaho’s values line up directly with mine: developing meaningful relationships with small businesses, and commitment to community.” said Alan Mullins, VP area manager of loan operations. “When I heard that, I was immediately interested in joining their expansion efforts.”

"It’s great to work again for an independent bank that cares about fostering those types of small business relationships,” said Mullins, who started his career as a bank teller in Weiser. “Some of my best friends started out as clients back in the day."

Along with Mullins, the Bank of Idaho Nampa team is made up of Sean Edwards, commercial loan officer and Kelsey Pease, commercial loan assistant. The new office will offer a complete slate of commercial lending options.

Nampa’s Historic Library building was originally built for a bank in 1919. The Bank of Idaho is open now in the former library’s offices on the second story, while the acquisitions team is working to finalize arrangements for a permanent full-service branch location in Nampa.