Yesterday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced at the National Press Club a document he entitled Blueprint for 100 New Nuclear Power Plants in 20 Years. It’s as full an explication of Alexander’s ideas as you could want to see.
Here’s the gist of it:
Republican United States Senators offer a different solution, a low-cost plan for clean energy based upon these four steps:
- building 100 nuclear power plants within 20 years;
- electric cars for conservation;
- offshore exploration for natural gas and oil;
- doubling energy research and development to make renewable energy cost competitive
The House plan will raise prices and send jobs overseas looking for cheap energy.
Nuclear energy and electric/hybrid cars make a great combination and answers to worries about the need for electricity for a mammoth new (if still potential) market. Although we’re not sure one would have to fight for offshore drilling if cars found another energy source, it shows Alexander keeping his options open.
Some elements gave us pause:
We want an America in which we are not creating “energy sprawl” by occupying vast tracts of farmlands, deserts and mountaintops with energy installations that ruin scenic landscapes.
We assume that’s wind and solar. If so, Alexander walks it back later:
Despite the weaknesses of solar and wind [well, he sort of walks it back], both still have definite contributions to make [and] therefore should be part of any energy plan.
But for the most part, he’s on solid ground, even on wind and solar. They really cannot provide baseload energy – that is, reliable and consistent energy – and nuclear energy can do that. That’s key for ramping down carbon emitting plants.
In the blueprint, Alexander looks at how we might bring about 100 nuclear power plants:
- It’s expensive but not paralyzing. Alexander offers a price of $700 billion, “less than the cost of the … stimulus,” and “nearly all the money will come from private investment.”
- It will mean “mean a rebirth of Industrial America,” because a market emerges for fabrication plants and other elements. Alexander notes correctly that there is already a ramp-up in manufacturing nuclear plant parts in this country.
- No NIMBY issues. With nuclear high in the polls, and higher in areas with a plant (all true), Alexander still hedges his bets a bit by noting that many of the 100 reactor could go to existing plants “without developing many new locations.”
We know that this plan cannot really gain a lot of traction in a Democratic-controlled Congress, but Alexander impressively tamps down ideology (well, there’s a bit in his preamble) to deal exclusively in what’s known and factual. That means his plan really can be a blueprint for Dems as well as Repubs who want to get up to speed on the issues.
One can disagree with his plan on premise or on points, but he does lay out the case intelligently and with good arguments. We read through a preliminary draft (where the quotes come from), so haunt his Web site to get a copy of the final version.
Senator Alexander’s been thinking about energy.