Skip to main content

Why Everyone Needs to #ActForNuclear

Fertel lays down the law at the DOE summit.
If Washington policy makers hadn't heard the news before, they should have it figured out now after yesterday's DOE summit (archive of live stream) -- a critical part of America's infrastructure, it's nuclear power plants, are under imminent threat of premature closure and the costs to the nation and the world could be enormous.

If you haven't already watched the summit video, do so right now, as DOE has helpfully archived all of the proceedings online. And when you have a chance, be sure to check out the #ActForNuclear hashtag on Twitter. As of yesterday afternoon, it was trending on Twitter in Washington, making it all but certain that staffers and their bosses all around the town were getting the message about what's at stake.

There were so many highlights, there isn't time to detail them all. But before you dive into the live stream, it would be a good idea to read NEI CEO Marv Fertel's speech that came in the first hour, right after introductions from DOE's John Kotek and opening remarks from Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz.
We thought the first plant shutdowns at Kewaunee and Vermont Yankee would galvanize action to prevent additional shutdowns.
  • We were obviously mistaken.
  • Please understand, however, that these early shutdowns are not just isolated events.
  • They are evidence of a larger systemic problem.
So this summit is part of a wake-up call—a wake-up call to drive action by the states … by the federal government … by the policy community and our political institutions … by anyone concerned about economic growth, environmental protection, jobs and reliability of electricity supply.
So, why should America #ActForNuclear? Again, here's Fertel:
Over the last several years, companies have shut down—or announced plans to shut down—eight nuclear reactors … about 6,300 megawatts of capacity … 6,000 direct jobs and at least that many indirect jobs … almost 10 percent of the Clean Power Plan’s 2030 carbon reduction goal.

We can see another 15 to 20 plants at risk of premature shutdown over the next 5 to 10 years.

If we were to lose all those plants, assuming they’re replaced with high-efficiency combined-cycle gas-fired plants, it would wipe out approximately one-quarter of the gains achieved by the Clean Power Plan … which represents about 45 percent of the U.S. commitment in Paris at COP21.

When Vermont Yankee closed, nuclear generation in ISO New England declined by 5.3 million MWh in 2015 compared to 2014 when Vermont Yankee was operating. This was offset by gas-fired generation increasing by 5.7 million MWh. Carbon emissions increased 5 percent in New England in 2015.

You’ve all heard that Exelon announced on its last earnings call that it cannot continue to sustain losses at its Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear plants in Illinois.

The company has lost $800 million over the last three years at those plants.

Illinois must reduce carbon emissions by about 30 million tons by 2030 under the Clean Power Plan … losing Quad Cities and Clinton would increase that compliance obligation by an additional 20 million tons.

Quad Cities—in fact, any large two-unit nuclear station—produces about as much electricity in a single year as all the utility-scale solar in America last year.
There's more, believe me, so much more to talk about. And we'll be putting together a Storify later today to knit it all together. But for now, I'll leave you with one Easter Egg. Go to the live stream and skip to the 52:30 mark to see one of the breakout stars of the summit, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Don't worry, we'll wait.

Thanks for stopping by. We'll have more later.

UPDATE: NEI's Tara Young has put together a narrative from Thursday's meeting using Storify. Please check it out.

Comments

There really needs to be a focus on preserving and expanding existing nuclear sites.

There's easily enough room at existing sites in the US to triple or even quadruple current nuclear capacity.

Marcel

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …