The Council on Foreign Relations has an interesting interview up with James E. Rogers, Duke Energy’s CEO. Right at the start, interviewer Roya Wolverson notes that Duke is the country’s third largest producer of carbon emissions and stands to be a “loser” in any climate change legislation. Rogers takes that on directly:
We know the transition is going to be expensive. We know it's not going to be easy, because every technology that generates electricity needs advances to be an equal contributor in a low-carbon world. We know that it won't be quick. But we believe that the transition needs to be fair and the cost impacts to consumers need to be smoothed out over a period of time so it's not disruptive to U.S. businesses or families.
And as you might expect, the nuclear takeaway is significant, and Rogers is right on top of current events:
But the difference in the jobs [at solar and wind plants vs. nuclear plants] is quite different, because if you're wiping off a solar panel, it's sort of a minimum wage type of job, [with] much higher compensation for nuclear engineers and nuclear operators. If our goal is to rebuild the middle class, nuclear plays a key role there, particularly if coal is out of the equation.
And, he hasn’t much time for the anti-nuclear advocate’s occasional “no need for base load energy” argument:
Job one for me is affordable, reliable, clean, 24/7, 365 days a year. So, given the technologies that we have today, nuclear is the only 24/7 product we have--unless you do natural gas, which has 50% of the carbon footprint of coal. And its price is quite volatile.
And the bottom line on nuclear energy:
If you asked me today based on current technologies--and assuming we have no advances in technology with respect to decarbonization of coal--I would say nuclear would trump coal because it produces zero greenhouse gases, it provides power 24/7, and, probably most importantly, it probably produces more jobs than even solar or wind on a per-megawatt basis.
We could go on stealing Wolverson’s work all day, so do go over to the site and read the whole thing.