Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Finding Opportunities to Advocate for Nuclear Energy

As a child growing up on a farm in a small town in rural southwestern Michigan, I never imagined that one day I would be an engineer, let alone work at a nuclear power plant. I grew up in the 1990s watching The Simpsons – probably the worst stereotypical view of nuclear plant workers – and wasn’t even aware of nuclear energy in a different context. I certainly wasn’t aware of the amazing benefits that nuclear provides to America.

Terry Groth
Terry Groth
That all changed when I began my nuclear career. I majored in mechanical engineering at Western Michigan University. During my last semester, I applied to work at several companies in different industries but none of them afforded me the opportunity to have a major impact on society like working at a nuclear power plant does with all of its environmental and economic benefits to the local communities.

Southwestern Michigan will always be home for my family and me. Our great state has four nuclear reactors – Palisades Power Plant, Fermi Unit 2 and DC Cook Units 1 and 2 – which cleanly and reliably provide nearly 30 percent of the state’s electricity. But with the low cost of natural gas right now and the recent closure of a few nuclear plants, it’s essential for nuclear workers and proponents to advocate on behalf of the industry.

We must take every opportunity to explain that nuclear is a clean air energy, reliable, affordable and efficient. These discussions can happen in front of an audience at a local community college, face to face in the grocery store, with a social media post or retweet or even during a break at my son’s baseball game.

Being a nuclear advocate means I’m educating others about what I believe in. It also allows me to secure my family’s future in the great state that I love. Michigan’s four nuclear units provide thousands of dependable, well-paying jobs, as well as millions of dollars for state and local economies through taxes and contributions. Our communities would be devastated if nuclear power was no longer an option.

I take my nuclear advocacy role serious enough that I want to help others promote nuclear energy. Because of this, I am happy to be a member of my plant’s North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) chapter. NAYGN works with the industry to align advocacy efforts around the country. It’s a great feeling to know that we’re a part of the hundreds of thousands of logged hours of activities to educate the public. It really makes you understand that yes, you as one person can make a valuable contribution to a more informed public. Into addition to NAYGN, the American Nuclear Society Young Members Group (YMG) also offers young professionals in our industry opportunities to engage in nuclear advocacy, professional development and advanced research.

I grew up as a 4-H member and the last line of our pledge was, “…for my club, my community, my country and my world.” I carry that pledge with me today, as a nuclear advocate; making sure the public is properly educated so my community, country and world are afforded all of the benefits of nuclear energy.

The above post was sent to us by Entergy's Terry Groth for NEI’s Powered by Our People promotion. It aims to showcase the best and the brightest in the nation’s nuclear energy workforce.

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