The Nuclear Energy Assembly is the annual conference of the Nuclear Energy Institute. It brings together all the bigwigs of the industry, plus a lot of the littler wigs, to listen to speeches, pick up awards for innovations in the field, catch up with industry colleagues – you know, the kinds of things people do at conferences. We thought we’d share you some of the bits and bites from the speeches given the opening morning – it was a virtual parade of politicians and regulators saying realistic but upbeat things.
For example, here’s House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer:
“My message to you is a simple one: nuclear energy is part of the solution. I say ‘part’ because there is no one single solution to America’s energy needs. I will keep arguing that nuclear power has a vital place in that mix, and that it deserves our government’s support.”
And here’s House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Peter Visclosky:
“If you look at these (energy) issues on a factual basis, there is a large and important role for nuclear to play. What I would hope, and what I have expressed to the Secretary of Energy is two-fold: One, that there is a sense of urgency at the Department of Energy to move forward, and this certainly pertains to some of the nuclear issues we face today. My other message is that you need to make sure you manage large-scale projects effectively.”
Now, all right, these sound a lot like politician speak, but they are Democratic politicians, and their support for nuclear energy is pretty straightforward.
And get this! In a Roll Call story about Hoyer’s speech, Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman said:
“The Speaker recognizes that nuclear power will continue to be part of our nation’s energy mix. She looks forward to working with Leader Hoyer and other Democratic leaders as well as the committee chairs to craft a consensus energy package.”
But getting back to the industry, here’s some comments from Gary Gates, president and chief executive officer of Omaha Public Power District and the new chairman of NEI’s board of directors:
“Around the world, 61 reactors are under construction or about to start producing power,” Gates said. “The economy is tougher today than when we met last year, but the need for new nuclear plants remains strong. The planning horizons for some facilities may have changed, but we expect four to eight new plants to be in operation in the United States by 2016 or 2017.
“All of this activity will lead to more jobs, in the short term in manufacturing and construction, and in career-long jobs to operate the plants. We estimate that 15,000 new jobs have been created and over $4 billion has been invested in the nuclear industry over the past few years. Nuclear is one of the few industries to be creating jobs at a time when so many jobs are disappearing.”
More to come.