Skip to main content

Striving for a Better Life

img2NEI, the nuclear industry and a stack of community colleges have a program to offer certification in several nuclear energy specialties. The program has been notably successful – you can read more about it here – but it’s always a treat when local press picks up on it. And that’s what the Miami Herald has done:

Forty-one-year-old Tomas Alvarez left Cuba in December 2007 to settle in Homestead. While working for American Airlines as a skycap for four years, he learned to speak English. Now he has earned an associate’s degree from Miami Dade College and should soon start a new job as a nuclear technician with Florida Power & Light, one of the state’s largest employers.

Alvarez received his training through the Clean Energy Institute, a cooperative program organized by MDC and FPL. Graduates of the program are trained as technicians and offered a yearly starting salary of about $55,000 to $57,000.

Writer Stephanie Parra hit a goldmine with Mr. Alvarez, showing  upward mobility, opportunities for immigrants and the fruits of striving for a better life. These are themes applicable anywhere, but they are especially resonant in the Miami area, so what better way to demonstrate these than the program offered at the Clean Energy Institute.

The idea here is not only to offer certification but jobs, as FP&L happens to have several nuclear facilities in its portfolio and a graying work force at those facilities. Consequently, the program has an excellent record of placing graduates.

The nation is experiencing a critical shortage of skilled nuclear workers. A significant number of workers are, or will soon become eligible for retirement,” said James Auld, who serves as the industry and community training coordinator for FPL. “To address the aging workforce, Florida Power & Light, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Miami Dade College collaborated to develop a skilled worker pipeline program.”

And unions! If you want to know what the motor has been to raise workers into the middle class, that’s it.

Although we shouldn’t neglect Mr. Alvarez:

For Alvarez, the program also offers a way to provide for his wife and son.

“I have my wife and son still in Cuba, but I am very happy because not only I do I get my profession back, but I also will be able to support my family when they arrive shortly,” he said.

It’s all good.


We don’t hone in on NEI all that much because we assume our readers know what it is and what it does. Reading a string of corporate press releases, whatever the context, can be deadly. So log-rolling on the blog is kept rather minimal. But there’s a theme today:

Ten years ago, nuclear plant security already was formidable and presented a clear deterrent against potential threats. Still, because of the 9/11 attacks, security was elevated to an unprecedented level.

That’s NEI President and CEO Marv Fertel, who uses the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to review what nuclear facilities did under the shadow of that terrible day.

Since 2001, the nuclear industry has spent more than $2 billion on security enhancements, including the addition of thousands of highly qualified security officers. This layer upon layer of formidable security includes physical barriers, followed by state-of-the-art detection technology, followed by sophisticated protocols for plant access, followed by added surveillance capabilities, and backed by a protective force of thousands of highly trained, well-armed officers.

These are neither Blackwater types shooting up a wedding party nor the friendly old fellow in a uniform down at the drugstore. These officers are formidably well trained but not loose cannons. They drill on various scenarios that could beset a facility and have well worked-out procedures to cope with various hostile situations.

Fertel talks about other elements of facility protection, but it’s right that he reserve central focus for the security forces. These are tough jobs with a stress level few of us would envy. And yet there they are, dong the job.


Hmmm, anything else? Well, NEI has put together a group of pages about the nuclear energy industry’s response to September 11. It wasn’t designed to support Mr. Fertel’s piece in the Daily Caller, but it does a fair enough job of doing so anyway. Start here and explore away.

A downtown nuclear plant? No – it’s Miami-Dade College.


John Wheeler said…
NextEra / FPL should be praised for their support of these community college programs at Miami Dade CC (near Turkey Point) and Indian River CC (near Port St. Lucie). They are a model for the industry.

One of the key components of their success is the utility has committed to hire a certain number of program graduates in each of the next several years. This provides the schools with assurance they will have jobs for their graduates, and incentive for the students because they know the best performers will get the jobs.

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.

Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…