Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Skip Bowman Builds on Nuclear's Promise

Speaking today before the Legislative Conference of the Building Skip 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.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

But the majority of jobs at commercial nuclear power plants are non-union. Indeed, companies such as Entergy fight tooth and nail to prevent unionization. That happened at the Pilgrim Nuclear Station when engineers, training instructors, etc., unionized. It was a very difficult time. They eventually succeeded, but when IPEC, VY and JAF folks saw the difficulty Pilgrim went through, unionization of engineering forces was dropped. Typically, ROs, non-licensed operators, chem techs, HP techs, I&C tech, mechanics and electricians are unionized in SOME plants, not all. Except for Pilgrim, hardly any plants have unionized engineers, planners, schedulers, training instructors, etc. That's why when a union goes on strike at a nuke plant (as sometimes happens) non-union plant staff are able to pick up the load. Personally, I wish all engineering and training staff were unionized everywhere. Why? Being on call 24 / 7 for E-Plan and every system engineering self-made crisis. Marriages and families have been destroyed because companies like Exelon, Entergy, Duke, etc., ride their engineering staff ragged. And that's the truth. Sorry - I am all for nuke power. But utilities are never the friends of unions.

Rod Adams said...

Mark:

Great post. It is great to hear that NEI is giving this kind of straight talk.

Anonymous said...

I see you didn't publish my comment about the union difficulties the Pilgrim station had when its engineers unionized and how badly Entergy opposed that. Maybe too much detail and truth for you. Yes, I am pro-nuke to the core, but utilities are never the friends of unions and the overwhelming majority of all jobs at nuke plants will always be non-union. And utilities do this so they can keep their engineering staff non-union and be able to run them ragged 24 / 7 with on-calls and all manner of nonsense without having to pay them for the hours they work. That happens. You know it happens. And that's why you won't publish my previous comment or this one. Unionization of engineers failed at VY, JAF and IPEC because all the old timer engineers saw what Pilgrim engineers had to go through and weren't willing to jeopardize their retirement in that way. I really think that Skip Bowman's promise of union jobs is a bit disingenuous. By the way, I used to be anti-union until I was one of those engineers abused by department managers interested only in their yearly bonus. If you guys want a nuclear revival, you better reign in how badly Entergy, Exelon, Duke and all the rest treats their engineering staff. And you know that to be true. But you won't let it be published. And no, I'm not Gunter's lackey. You should ban that SOB and every other anti-nuke kook from this forum.

David Bradish said...

I see you didn't publish my comment about the union difficulties the Pilgrim station had when its engineers unionized and how badly Entergy opposed that. Maybe too much detail and truth for you.

No, your comment just slipped through the cracks. The only time we reject comments is when people start personally attacking each other.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, David, for your honesty. I am sorry that I am so "passionate", but I know what it's like to be an engineer or tech at a nuke plant and have no protection against managers who abuse their authority as they sleeze their way to nuclear success. This doesn't always happen, or even happen most of the time, but it happens often enough to make an engineer's life miserable. Then we get told: the company is reorganizing, you have to rebid on your job, and if you don't like it, we'll find a college kid to do your job at half pay". Doing that leads to more torus cracking problems as happened at Fitz a few years ago, and their curren feedpump seal problems. But the Director of Engineering who approved of the new seal design - who even bragged that he went to Germany to inspect the new and improved design - got promoted to VP of nuke engineering while the poor engineers have to slug out the mistakes that he in his incompetence made. Sure, the company promoted him out of the way. But they should have fired his butt.

Starvid said...

Count on power companies not going to be able to treat their employees badly anymore, as everyone is running out of staff. Everyone is retiring. Supply of workers going down, demand going up -> prices (wages) will have to advance very much.

And coming from a country where about 75 % of all people are unionized, I think the American situation is horrible.

Unions make sure employees are treated well and that there are no damaging strikes. And in a business like nuclear where any strike will take a huge cut bite out of profits while good wage increases are almost not noticeable on the bottom line, well, it probably is in the interest of utilities to have strong and reasonable unions which one can cooperate and reach reasonable compromises.

Lisa Stiles said...

Anon,

May I direct you to http://www.dom.com/jobs/index.jsp?

Just last night at the NRC public meeting on the North Anna Unit 3 COL application, a local union leader talked about how he is proud to have started as an apprentice when North Anna 1 was being built, that it taught him a trade and paid him well. He went on to say what great jobs there are and will be at the North Anna site.

Also, Starvid is correct. There are now more highly qualified jobs in the US than there are highly qualified people. Employees won't put up with the old model of "paying their dues" and putting work ahead of their lives just to ensure they stay employed at a big stable company. Their security is no longer in the company, it is in the job market and the reality of a shrinking labor pool.

Savvy companies realize that it isn't the same game anymore. Losing employees has become very expensive and retention is the name of the game. And you won't retain people that you are working to death.

So if the company you're working for is stuck in the old model, I assure you that many companies have progressed beyond that and I wouldn't mind if the first one you looked at was Dominion.

Lisa

Lisa Stiles
Project Manager, Strategic Staffing and Knowledge Management
Nuclear Business Unit
Dominion Resources Services