“A Key Marker for US Nuclear Energy”

We’ve seen a couple very solid blog posts that we recommend reading. First, see “Ending the Nuclear Drought” from the Progressive Policy Institute think tank.

America’s long nuclear energy drought is officially over. For the first time in 33 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved a construction and operating license for a new nuclear reactor in the United States – actually two of them to expand Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle generating facility in Georgia.This is good news for U.S. electricity consumers, companies, and workers….

The NRC’s decision comes on the heels of another important development which bodes well for America’s “nuclear renaissance.” Last month, President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) issued its final report. It offers a new strategy for breaking the impasse on nuclear waste disposal, which has tied politicians in knots over the proposed Yucca Mountain facility for decades…

if the NRC can follow today’s action with a commitment to speeding up the approval process, some of those costs could be mitigated. In any case, it’s critical for the United States to recapture its technological leadership in energy, which includes the civilian nuclear power industry that was first invented here.

And Christine Todd Whitman and Patrick Moore write that “New Reactors Signal US Nuclear Energy Resurgence” and cover similar ground:

These next-generation reactors will power scores of businesses and homes -1.6 million in Georgia alone – and it will do so affordably and reliably. At about two cents per kilowatt-hour, the production cost for electricity at nuclear energy facilities is lower than all other major sources of power. By comparison, energy from natural gas-fueled plants doubles that cost at roughly four cents per kilowatt-hour.

Because of the stable, low price of uranium used to fuel the production of electricity at nuclear energy facilities, the price of electricity from nuclear energy varies little. Georgia residents whose power comes from the new reactors could realize up to $20 in savings on each utility bill by 2034. These two new reactors, Vogtle units 3 and 4, are expected to save Georgia customers up to $6 billion in lower electricity rates over the life of the units as compared to a coal or natural gas plant….

Plans for new reactors at Plant Vogtle mark a critical step forward to make America’s energy supply more secure, jumpstart the economy, and protect the environment, all while enhancing safety….The simple truth is that more abundant American-made nuclear energy is a vital part of our brighter energy future, but for many decades and many reasons, our nation failed to expand our energy security by building more nuclear facilities. States like Georgia have established the way forward for nuclear energy expansion. With the right policy support, more states should follow their lead to ensure a sustainable clean energy future for all.

In both quotes, the authors recognize that as a country we have just passed a marker, a milestone of sorts. That the new reactors destined for Plant Vogtle in Burke County, GA, represent more than just good economic and energy news for the residents of South Georgia. That in some important way, they mark good news and hope for the U.S. economy and clean energy supply overall.