Friday, August 30, 2013

The Smart Money Is on Nuclear

This week's announcement that Vermont Yankee would be shut down in 2014 was sad news to bear for our industry. Here at NEI, we covered the negative impact on the local economy that this closing will have, and our CEO Marv Fertel's comments expressed how disappointing it is when a well-run and highly productive nuclear plant gets shuttered because of skewed markets.

Caroline Cochran 

It was easy to feel discouraged by this, especially knowing all of the hard work put forth by the talented employees and tireless supporters of Vermont Yankee. That's why it was both inspiring and uplifting to read the following message to industry communicators from Caroline Cochran, a nuclear engineer, blogger and advocate.
I wish we were fighting a battle of facts, but clearly that's not what this is. This is a battle of hearts and guts and cool and public opinion. That’s why what you all are doing is so important. Organizations like PopAtomic Studios and The Breakthrough Institute are great because they make nuclear energy accessible and fun, and help people understand that it’s critical for our environment.

I've seen it over and over again talking to person after person in all types of settings. I work in marketing now and speak with thousands of people monthly -- the change is coming. Young people are pro-nuclear. They think it’s cool. They also think it’s important for our future. Many visionaries and big names are pro-nuclear too: Bill Gates and Richard Branson, and Elon Musk is really coming around.

I was just at the largest annual inbound marketing conference, and everyone I talked to there loved the idea of nuclear. These aren’t engineers, these are young techies and social media types. The types that love TechCrunch and Wired and blogs. I was also just in D.C. meeting with the heads of several agencies and offices. There is momentum coming from there as well.  The New York Times and the old guard will have a change of heart…eventually!

Don’t lose heart guys. The smart money is on nuclear. The people that really care about our future care about nuclear.
On behalf of nukes everywhere, I want to say thank you, Caroline. This is exactly what we needed to hear. We are heartened by your message and will continue to spread the word that nuclear energy is crucial for powering our future.


jimwg said...

Good article, but I just can't share Caroline Cochran's hopeful vision. If polls were REALLY true that supposedly most Americans are for nuclear energy then why the heck is it so blasted hard just keeping them open much less built? In a very cold Darwinian way, you almost can't blame the glee anti-nukers have every time a nuclear plant closes its shutters. After all, anti's have long been given a free wide-open unchallenged media-groomed savanna to run amok and pluck clueless sheep by while the lion sleeps in the bushes. You'd think after TMI that the nuclear community would've taken a cue from Tylenol and launched an aggressive damage-control and public education program to pump up the nuclear science quotient in this country. Instead its foolish fatal complacency hoped the TMI panic would blow over and people would forgive and forget Doomsday nightmares. Royally wrong. We got a 30 year nuke building stall and five nukes announced closing this year, boiled down largely as a result of soured enthuse by electric utilities hammmered by political and community pressure. How many are waiting in the wings for next year? How many hints does the nuclear community need to implement massive and continuous nuclear education projects on the media and the web? Tupperwear party nuke teach-ins won't cut it. You have to enlighten en masse in live pop channels. It can be done if every establishment and organization and union with nuclear and atomic in its name dropped a little in the passed cup and got a PR firm cracking on the issue for starters. Just like the one Tylenol hired long ago. Stop reacting to media anti-nuclear features in their comments columns and pro-actively publish some! Get in the antis face for once!

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Anonymous said...

All of the plants which closed did so for a combination of technical and economic reasons, most of which were brought about by old age. No amount of PR would have fixed the steam generator replacement issues at San Onofre and Crystal River and no amount of good will would change the high O&M costs of agiing, small single unit plants like Vermont Yankee and Kewaunee. I would expect several more small single unit stations to close over the next few years if natural gas prices stay low. Also, I would not be surprised if a large unit closed if there was a serious mechanical failure that was costly to repair. The closer these plants get to the end of their operation lives the less they are worth and the more they cost to maintain. At some point the costs outweight the benefits and they are shut down. The NRC and people's opinions affect this to a degree since excessive regulation drives up costs, but it's far from the only factor.