Thursday, March 21, 2013

One Nuclear Energy Student Makes the Case for Cost Recovery Laws

Diego Garcia (left) and Gators for long-term energy planning.
Earlier this week, a Florida State Senate committee held a hearing on the state's nuclear cost recovery law. Paul Genoa was on hand to deliver testimony on behalf of NEI, but today I'd like to focus on another individual who testified on Monday.

His name is Diego Garcia. He's a senior at the University of Florida currently and is double majoring in nuclear engineering and political science. He's also president of the campus chapter of the American Nuclear Society. That's him in the picture with a few of his classmates who showed up at Monday's hearing.

So why should we listen to Mr. Garcia? Put simply, nuclear cost recovery laws have been put in place all over the country in order to allow electric utilities to engage in the sort of long-term planning that's desperately needed on the electric grid. And when we're talking about facilities that could potentially be producing emission-free power for up to 60 years, it's safe to say that Diego and his young compatriots at UF have some genuine skin in the game.

Here's an excerpt from his testimony that I found particularly compelling:
It is easy to understand why the debate about nuclear power plant financing has become a topic of debate. I share the same values of accountability and oversight that many have been discussing. However there is much more to the issue than meets the eye; aspects that I have only been able to understand through my full-time studies of energy and the energy markets.


CO2 burning power stations are much faster and cheaper to build upfront. Nuclear power plants have significantly higher costs because of the magnitude of the infrastructure and the stringent regulatory standards that ensure safety, security and environmental protection. However, the subsequent operating costs (including fuel costs) for nuclear energy are low, making it economically competitive alternative to fossil fuel plants over the life of the plants. The problem of cleaner air is an economic one too. It is laws like the nuclear cost recovery clause that allow our state to move toward 0 emissions and a more stable energy market.

Nuclear energy is the only CO2 –free form of reliable electricity that can provide customers with stable electricity costs for decades. Because of its low operating cost and high reliability, nuclear power is not vulnerable to the price spikes that both oil and natural gas-fired plants can impose on customers. The nuclear cost recovery clause allows the private sector and ratepayers to be able to pass the hurdle of upfront costs in order to provide reliable, affordable, and clean-air energy solutions for our state.
We talk a lot about the future of the nuclear work force here at NEI, and safe to say, we're very anxious to see Diego graduate this Spring and take a job working in our industry. As far as we're concerned, he can't get here quickly enough.


EntrepreNuke said...

Good job getting out there and bringing some rational thinking to the hearing, Diego.

jimwg said...

Be also nice to challenge the assumption that nuclear energy can't be protective enough by dare asking, is nuclear reactor safety already $$$ overbuilt already??

James Greenidge
Queens NY