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A top executive of NuScale, the first company to work with federal regulators on a new generation of nuclear power, recently talked with Axios about the technology's future.

Driving the news: Oregon-based NuScale is expecting a key technical review to be complete by year’s end and final design approval from the government by the second half of next year. If all goes as planned, it aims to be operating by 2026 a new kind of reactor that’s far smaller than today’s technology.

Read highlights of an interview with Thomas Mundy, NuScale’s chief commercial officer:

Axios: What’s the biggest challenge your company faces?

“Right now it’s going head to head internationally against state-supported technology companies, basically Russia and China. We’re a small commercial enterprise, we’re not a state-owned entity. We don’t have financial backing like what those companies have and going head to head and being able to offer competitive financing package presents a challenge for us.”

Axios: NuScale’s first customer for its electricity is set to be the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, which is part of the Utah state government that provides energy to the Intermountain West. Are you worried the group may opt for natural gas, which is plentiful and often cheaper?

"That’s always a possibility. … We have been able to demonstrate we can be competitive with natural gas generation and therefore they [the Utah municipal power systems] are moving down that path, siting examination, preparing their license applications, doing all the things and moving toward construction.”

Axios: NuScale, which adapts current reactor technology to a smaller and more advanced degree, has received around $300 million in funding from the federal government. How important is government support to your technology?

"It’s very significant. Not just for our program, but all [advanced reactor] technology. It’s the infusion of financial support through those [government] awards that enables us to get to the market a whole lot sooner had we not received that financial support.”

Go deeper: Bill Gates faces ‘daunting’ nuclear energy future

Go deeper

Symone Sanders leaving VP's office

Vice President Kamala Harris and her press secretary Symone Sanders. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris, is leaving the VP’s office by the end of this year, three White House officials told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The VP has faced an onslaught of criticism in her first year centered on her leadership and staff, adding to the suggestion, she’s not the Democratic Party’s preferred nominee for 2024.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 1 hour ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP fights itself on shutdown politics

Reporters question Senate Minority Whip John Thune before the Republican Party's weekly lunch on Tuesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

GOP leaders on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reach a deal with a bloc of 15 Senate Republicans threatening a government shutdown to force a fight over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The push to defund the mandates — by holding the short-term government funding bill hostageis largely symbolic, and highly controversial within the Republican Party. A shutdown as early as midnight Friday could trigger everything from national park closures to delays in receiving Social Security checks.