U.S. Nuclear Plants a “Vital National Asset”

By Will Davis

Lost to us now; Kewaunee Nuclear Plant, shut down permanently in May, 2013.

Lost to us now- the Kewaunee Nuclear Plant, shut down permanently in May, 2013.

This week, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) announced the approval and publication of its latest position statement, which addresses the existential threat faced by the nation’s commercial nuclear power plants.

It’s no secret that a number of plants today are threatened (plants such as Davis-Besse in Ohio, for example) and that a number have shut down (Kewaunee, Vermont Yankee) or are scheduled to shut down because of economic factors.  The loss of these complex but steady-performing, reliable and grid-stabilizing power plant assets has been recognized by the Society and measures to prevent this from continuing are addressed in Position Statement 26, “U.S. Commercial Nuclear Power Plants: A Vital National Asset.”

The statement lists and details, three major recommendations by ANS.  These are, in brief, the following:

1.  Federal and state policies should be enacted to level the playing field between nuclear power and other clean energy generation technologies.

2.  State laws and electricity market rules should be adjusted to support nuclear power by the enactment of policies at the federal and state levels, as needed.

3.  Support for nuclear power should include a greater role for the federal government.

It’s obvious that if these steady performing plants nationwide are lost, that we won’t get back the things  that we lose along with the closing – good paying high-tech jobs, major contributions to surrounding communities’ economies, reliable and stable support of the grid, not to mention clean (low CO2) around-the-clock energy, and more.  That’s why it’s so important to do whatever it takes, now, to keep these plants running.  You can find out how to help in your own state by looking up the Nuclear in the States Toolkit, V 2.0 on the ANS website.  Not only will you find out about markets and incentives, you’ll find out what might work for your particular state in the Toolkit.

We need to face the fact that “advanced” or Gen-IV nuclear is not yet ready to fill the gap in clean energy technology.  The plants we have, and a precious few under construction, are it for a number of years yet.  Until then, we need to preserve the nuclear energy base we have now (and that’s primarily PEOPLE, not just equipment, sites and plants, procedures and practices).  While some very capable people toil away on the challenges presented to advanced nuclear, whether they be technical, regulatory or economic, everyone can pitch in to try to save what we have now so that there’s a homestead for advanced nuclear to join in with when it’s ready. Please take a moment to look at the position statement, and then the Toolkit.  We can all do a part, from a little to a lot.

Threatened: Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio.  Zero Energy Credit fight is on, but will there be movement before FirstEnergy is forced to sell or shut down its nuclear fleet (Davis-Besse, Perry, Beaver Valley)?  Now is the time to act.  (Photo c FirstEnergy.)

Threatened: Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio. Zero Energy Credit fight is on, but will there be movement before FirstEnergy is forced to sell or shut down its nuclear fleet (Davis-Besse, Perry, Beaver Valley)? Now is the time to act. (Photo courtesy FirstEnergy.)

Click for a complete list of the Society’s Position Statements.


ANS member Will Davis

Will Davis is a member of the Board of Directors for the N/S Savannah Association, Inc. He is a consultant to the Global America Business Institute, a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and he writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is also a consultant and writer for the American Nuclear Society, and serves on the ANS Communications Committee and the Book Publishing Committee. He is a former U.S. Navy reactor operator and served on SSBN-641, USS Simon Bolivar.

About Will Davis

Will Davis is the Communications Director for the N/S Savannah Association, Inc. where he also serves as historian, newsletter editor and member of the board of directors. Davis has recently been engaged by the Global America Business Institute as a consultant. He is also a consultant to, and writer for, the American Nuclear Society; an active ANS member, he is serving on the ANS Communications Committee 2013–2016. In addition, he is a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is a former US Navy reactor operator, qualified on S8G and S5W plants.

2 thoughts on “U.S. Nuclear Plants a “Vital National Asset”

  1. Tom LaGuardia

    Will,
    I agree on all your articles on the need for continued support for nuclear power. The new plants are still in the design/licensing phase, but the operating plants are demonstrating their clean, reliable energy delivery. We need to make the public aware that the so-called “Clean Energies” of solar, wind and natural gas (NG) are not the answer to future power generation. When solar and wind are not generating, natural gas plants are expected to make up for the shortfall in power. NG plants emit almost 60% of the CO2 of a coal fired plant, and about the same amount of NOX as a coal plant. Plus, the unburned methane is 100 times more polluting as CO2, a fact rarely publicized by the media.
    I strongly believe that NG prices will rise as the US exports liquified NG (LNG) overseas where the going price is $8 -10 per thousand cu ft, as opposed to the $2 we pay in the US. There are five LNG export facilities being built on the Gulf Coast, and one almost in operation. There are 91 new LNG carriers in the shipyards, and 361 in operation. With the enlarged Panama Canal, these LNG carriers can make the trip to the Far East in 24 days instead of the former 64 days going around South America. It won’t be long before the market will shift to overseas consumers and the price of NG in the US will rise. When it gets to $6 per thousand cu ft, nuclear becomes competitive again. I believe, as others have predicted this can happen within the next five years. The US nuclear utilities have to hang in there for the price to rise. In the meantime, states have to support the diversity that NPP offer until the market recovers.

  2. brad linscott

    The U.S. must renew it’s efforts to develop and install a large number of nuclear electric and thermal plants. The small nuclear electric modular plants have great potential and need to be given priority.

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