Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Industry Leaders State the Facts

Poised on the brink of the largest capital investment program in its history, nuclear energy industry leaders this morning opened their 55th annual conference with pledges to face facts squarely and appraise the challenges and opportunities honestly as nuclear power energizes a low-carbon future.

Skip Bowman, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, told nearly 500 industry executives gathered in Chicago for the Nuclear Energy Assembly that a factual presentation and reasoned approach would make the nuclear resurgence a reality. He marshaled several facts to make his point:

  • One million megawatts of electricity-generating capacity powers America’s grid, but 45 percent of that infrastructure is more than 30 years old. Meanwhile, the nation has deferred investment in new, more efficient baseload plants, including new reactors.
  • The 2005 Energy Policy Act’s loan guarantee program is a “very small step” in the right direction, but insufficient to rebuild electric power infrastructure.
  • The nation and world are seeking clean-air energy sources, like nuclear, to address climate change.
  • Electricity demand will increase by 25 percent by 2030, according to government officials.
“There is no credible strategy to address the conundrum of climate change and increasing electricity demand unless nuclear power is part of the portfolio,” Bowman said.

John Rowe, president, CEO and chairman of Exelon Corp., called for a “hardheaded approach” to what is needed to bring about nuclear’s resurgence.

He detailed the industry’s “steady progress,” including the filing of nine construction and operating license applications with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 15 new reactors in the United States, a drumbeat of announcements about companies ordering long-lead components, and state policymaker support for new-reactor construction.

“There is a growing need for baseload generation and a need to find ways to address the climate challenge,” Rowe said.

“Each of the three candidates for president has taken a clear position on the need for action on climate change,” he noted. “We can only hope that will translate into realistic support for new nuclear generation.”

Rowe added, “It is simply not possible for rational policymakers to think we can solve our national goals for economic security, energy security or environmental security without a large block of new nuclear power plants.”

JoAnn Sperber

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