Speaking today before the Legislative Conference of the Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, NEI President and CEO Skip Bowman went beyond extolling the benefits of nuclear energy - which he also did, of course, as this is not an audience that lives and breaths nuclear - to address the bread and butter issues that directly impact this group. And this year, there's a lot of butter on the bread:
What does building a new nuclear plant mean to us in this room? Well, each new construction will generate thousands and thousands of high paying jobs for several years. Peak employment during construction could be as many as 3000 jobs or even 4000 jobs depending on man-hours per week, overtime, and other factors. Those of you in this room represent the kind of workers we want and need. Thirty new plants could mean a lot of jobs — as many as 100,000 jobs!
And it’s not just about these construction jobs. Operating a nuclear plant calls for 400 to 700 permanent jobs for three generations of workers. These are high paying jobs with great pension and healthcare benefits that cannot be sent offshore. Each plant creates an equal number of additional jobs in the surrounding community, providing goods and services necessary to support that workforce. And supplemental labor for outages requires over 20 million man-hours per year.
While it would be unfair to say that building new plants would cure the economic ills besetting us, Bowman is correct to emphasize that the jobs created ripple through the economy in purely positive ways:
Building new nuclear plants will also create jobs in the nuclear manufacturing sector, as companies gear up to meet growing demand for the equipment, components and commodities that go into a nuclear plant. Did you realize that building a nuclear plant takes 400,000 cubic yards of concrete, 66,000 tons of steel, 44 miles of piping, 300 miles of electrical cable and 130,000 electrical components?
On top of this, each year, the average nuclear plant generates approximately $430 million in sales of goods and services in the local community and nearly $40 million in total labor income.
And then there’s total state and local tax revenue of almost $20 million from every plant to benefit schools, roads, and other state and local infrastructure — more jobs. And annual tax payments of roughly $75 million are paid to the federal government.
In all the discussions of nuclear energy and new plants, we tend to drift into the abstract - the benefits of nuclear, climate change, the rhetoric of clean energy - to make our points, but this is as close to the bone as it gets for most of us:
So you get the picture - jobs, jobs, jobs - income to the community - lower taxes for us - and lots of electricity and clean air. That’s us — you and me.
Over the top? Not even a little. Consider: Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton also will be speaking to the conference today and tomorrow, in no doubt soaring terms. You'll hear about their speeches elsewhere, particularly if one of them makes a gaffe. But you may be sure that Mr. Bowman will have topped them in the area that most matters to this audience: jobs. The nuclear industry can now go well beyond the mere promise of jobs. They are here now, more are coming, and all of them will without question improve the quality of life for the union membership.