Skip to main content

Clay Sell on the Bush Nuclear Energy Policy

We just got hold of the remarks made by Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell at yesterday's NuStart press conference. No link was available, so we've reproduced the text here in full:
It is an honor to be here today on behalf of President Bush and Secretary Bodman… to take part in an event that could lead to a more secure energy future for our nation.

The companies that make up the Nustart Consortium are among the world’s top operators of nuclear facilities, and are well-positioned to build the first new nuclear power plants in the United States in nearly three decades.

There is no better time for a renaissance of nuclear power in this country. Our growing dependence on foreign energy… and increasing concerns about air emissions… make nuclear power’s advantages over other methods of electricity production more pronounced than ever.

Nuclear power is the only technology we currently have that can reliably produce base-load electricity without any pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. The 103 nuclear plants operating in our country today provide electricity for one in every five American homes and businesses.

But during their development and construction, the builders of many of these plants – which include some of the companies here today – endured major financial and regulatory problems. Many plants cost billions more than originally projected… and took years longer to complete than anticipated. As a result, nuclear power projects became too risky to finance… and nuclear construction in the United States ground to a halt.

But many things have changed since then. Advances in technology and management improvements have made U.S. nuclear power plants some of the safest and most cost-effective industrial facilities we have. And new reactor designs will make the next generation of plants even safer and more efficient than the current fleet. As President Bush said in a recent speech, “It’s time to start building again.”

Unfortunately, the high development costs, regulatory uncertainties, and licensing concerns of the past remain in place… making it difficult for companies to commit to new nuclear construction. But if no new plants are built... nuclear power’s current 20 percent of U.S. electricity production will drop to 14 percent by 2025… and then toward zero as the current plants are retired. Secretary Bodman recently said that allowing nuclear power to undergo such a decline in the United States would be economically and environmentally irresponsible.

Making sure that nuclear power is a viable part of our future energy mix is the goal of the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Power 2010 Program. The NuStart Consortium is a direct outgrowth of this program… which is designed to work with industry in a 50/50 cost-shared arrangement to demonstrate the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s new “one-step” licensing process, identify suitable sites for new plants, and certify new state-of-the-art designs. This would help pave the way for an industry decision to build new advanced light-water reactors in the United States in the next few years.

In addition to this program, the President has proposed further regulatory reforms, along with risk insurance for the first new plants that come on-line. Beyond these efforts, we also need to address the issues of spent nuclear fuel and continued political opposition to nuclear power.

On the subject of spent fuel, I want to emphasize that the President and his Administration are committed to completing the Yucca Mountain project… which will remove another major impediment to a revival of nuclear construction in this country – a revival that has taken a giant step forward with the NuStart Consortium’s selection of finalist sites for the first new plants.

Thank you again for inviting me today… and congratulations on achieving such a significant milestone in this important effort.
For more on the Nuclear Power 2010 program, drop by Searching for the Truth.

Technorati tags: , , , , ,

Comments

Anonymous said…
How much of the increase in costs of the 1970's nuclear plants was due to frivolous lawsuits by the self-styled guardians of the environment, led by the likes of one Ms. J__e F___a, who learnt their physics from "The China Syndrome"? It is my view that if these activists had been required to pay the costs of their unsuccessful litigation, the costs of construction would not have blown out by billions. Nuclear power is safe, and in the West always was. TMI proved that containment works and is a prudent safety measure. If all the plants ordered in the 1970's had been built, the USA would not be diffident about acceding to Kyoto, we would already be producing less green house gases than in 1970 .

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…