Nuclear energy a job creator poised for growth, says conference keynote

VC Summer Plant Vogtle Watts Bar nuclear power plant Nuclear Energy Institute NEI new builds job creator

By Denver Nicks, Associate Editor, Nuclear Power International

In his keynote address to the 550 industry leaders in attendance for the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Nuclear Energy Assembly, NEI CEO Marvin Fertel hailed nuclear power as a job creator with a bright future.

Fertel pointed to the completion of basemats at the new reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina—which are 40 percent complete—as evidence that nuclear power has a key place in our national economy and energy future.

“These are the largest construction projects in their states, and they are driving direct employment for nearly 4,000 workers, twice that during peak construction,” said Fertel. “The projects also are creating ancillary jobs across America in component manufacturing, modular construction and other services. The projects in Georgia and South Carolina will support about 35,000 US jobs, according to analysis by Westinghouse and the Shaw Group,” he said.

Fertel said that as the economy rebounds construction of nuclear facilities is expected to expand beyond the five reactors under construction today in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

“Ten applications for construction and operating licenses and two for early site permits are under Nuclear Regulatory Commission review. We don’t expect construction on those projects to start until later this decade, but we do expect more new reactors to be built as electricity demand recovers.

Fertel pointed to industry policy priorities to improve nuclear power’s future, like advancing research and development into new reactor technology, including small modular reactors, maintaining focus on smart safety measures, including continuing to implement lessons from Fukushima, developing a sensible and workable national strategy for managing used nuclear fuel in the US, and enhanced US government advocacy of the nuclear energy trade worldwide.

“The global nuclear technology market is a major opportunity for US vendors and suppliers. The Commerce Department estimates the commercial opportunity over the next decade may be worth as much as $740 billion,” Fertel said. “If US suppliers were able to capture nominally 25 percent of this market, it would create or sustain up to 185,000 high-paying American jobs.”

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