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Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?

As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant site. I get to help the different teams execute the schedule safely and successfully. My day-to-day activities have a direct impact on “moving the needle” at Plant Hatch, and I leave work every day knowing I’ve accomplished something meaningful.

What is your vision for the future of nuclear in America? 

My vision for the future of nuclear in America includes an industry made up of a diverse operating fleet—from AP1000s and advanced BWRs to newer conceptual reactors. I think that by diversifying our industry with different vintage reactors, both old and new, our industry will be able to better navigate and withstand the constantly changing economic and political environments.

What is your favorite story of nuclear advocacy?

Social media is one of the most powerful tools available to us today, and I’m excited to see groups like NAYGN, NEI and Southern Nuclear taking advantage of that. Just last month, I signed a petition to the White House that NAYGN had shared on Facebook to “Keep America’s Nuclear Power Plants Working for Us.” The following week at work, I received emails from a BWR Owners Group and SNC’s Communications Director asking me to sign the same petition! It was exciting to see something that started with a single employee gain so much momentum through social media and beyond. 

How are you bringing innovation into the nuclear energy industry? 

Innovation is often hard to define; it is not always a “widget” you can lay your hands on. Sometimes it is simply a different way of thinking. One way my group and I are bringing innovation into the nuclear energy industry is by constantly asking ourselves why we are doing what we are doing. To stand still is to fall behind, and by being in a mode of constant self-evaluation, we are always pushing ourselves to the next goal and eliminating practices that add no value. 

What does Delivering the Nuclear Promise mean to you? 

For so many people across the industry, nuclear power is a “family” business—it was one of the reasons I chose this line of work. My father, brother and wife all work in the nuclear power industry. To me, Delivering the Nuclear Promise means that one day my children will have opportunities to work in the nuclear power industry. I hope to one day be able to pass on the same passion for nuclear power my father had to my children.

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon

Sharimar Colon has been working in the nuclear industry for three years and is currently an electrical design engineer. She and her team pursue innovation to drive efficiency at Farley Nuclear Plant in Alabama. 

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?

I work as an electrical design engineer responsible for design development of electrical systems and equipment for commercial nuclear power. I perform electrical system design evaluations based on nuclear codes, standards and licensing requirements. I enjoy working with a diverse and friendly group of engineers that are always willing to help. I also enjoy exchanging ideas to develop the best design products and the opportunity to learn every day.

What is your vision for the future of nuclear in America?

I see nuclear power becoming the dominant source of energy in America based on its ability to provide cost-effective and safe power production.

What is your favorite story of nuclear advocacy?

During a refueling outage, emergent issues require immediate actions to avoid delays. A design request proposed preparing a design change for the control circuitry of a pump. Various iterations of the design change were prepared, until an engineer questioned the approach in its entirety. The engineer pushed to perform more troubleshooting and determined that the issue was in a different part of the system, and that the proposed design change would not have fixed the issue. This is one of many examples of the importance of applying technical conscience and using resources effectively. 

How are you bringing innovation into nuclear energy industry?

In addition to my electrical design engineer duties, I was assigned the task of design working-list coordinator. I have been making the process more visible and robust. I implemented many initiatives to bring awareness to plant personnel of the list and its importance and have also developed different communication methods to make processing of the list more efficient. This increase in efficiency translates directly to lower operating costs by providing high-quality products that prevent the organizational strain caused by missed milestones. 

What does delivering the nuclear promise mean to you? 

Delivering the Nuclear Promise means using our resources in the most efficient manner so that nuclear is the dominant cost-effective energy source in America. I personally have supported this by performing designs that previously would have been contracted to an outside architecture/engineering firm. This has saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is this new way of doing business that will propel the industry forward.

Share this story of nuclear’s benefits with your network using #whynuclear. To learn more, go to nei.org/whynuclear.

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