PALM BEACH, Fla., June 7, 2002 — Former Senator J. Bennett Johnston of Louisiana, citing uncertainties in U.S. natural gas production, told a gathering of nuclear power and electric utility chief executives that a healthy American economy is directly dependent upon a renewed commitment to nuclear power for electricity generation.
“The only realistic way for the United States economy to continue to prosper is to embrace more coal-fired plants and initiate a return to more nuclear plants,” Johnston said in the keynote address at an executive conference held by Framatome ANP, Inc. “I have been saying for years that a strong role for nuclear power is inevitable in our future. It looks like the future is closer than we thought.”
Johnston noted a recent report by Houston-based Simmons and Co. that natural gas production is expected to decline this year. If the forecast is correct, Johnston said, a drop in the natural gas supply could be difficult for the economy to contend with.
“The Simmons report indicates that a decline in natural gas supply of only one to three percent will be almost impossible to deal with in this country,” Johnston quoted from the report. “The biggest risk imbedded in a supply drop is that a new drilling boom might merely stabilize gas supply at the new lower level.”
On the other hand, he noted, there are no such fluctuations or uncertainties in the availability of nuclear power. Johnston said the nuclear power industry is poised to address the electricity demand needs of the next several decades. He pointed to the record-high capacity within the industry of more than 91 percent, record low production costs, early license renewal activity among a number of major utilities and pending Congressional approval to reauthorize the Price-Anderson Act, which limits the liability of nuclear- plant operators in the event of major accidents.
He also indicated he believed that later this summer, the Senate will follow the House of Representatives’ overwhelming 306-117 vote and approve Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a national repository for spent nuclear fuel in this country, an initiative the nuclear power industry has sought for decades.
His comments were made at Framatome ANP’s EFECT 2002 conference, which gives senior executives from the nuclear power and utilities industries an opportunity to candidly address current events. EFECT stands for “Executive Forum for Emerging Challenges and Trends.”
The conference, held every two years, was convened this year at The Breakers in Palm Beach. EFECT is considered globally as one of the top senior management retreats within the nuclear power industry. The EFECT 2002 meeting attracted more than 80 senior executives from throughout the United States and nine foreign countries.
In addition to Johnston, other top speakers at this year’s forum included former Senator George Mitchell; Oliver Kingsley, Senior Vice President of Exelon Corporation; and Stuart Varney, an economic analyst for CNBC.
Johnston was introduced by Tom Christopher, President and CEO of Framatome ANP, Inc., who said in his welcoming address that the American nuclear industry has a unique challenge over the next 10 years. In 2001, the industry achieved a dramatic increase in efficiency to lead the world with a plant capacity level of more than 91 percent nationwide. The challenge will be to maintain high capacity levels while also upgrading and modernizing the country’s 103 nuclear plants over the next decade as they go through the license renewal process.
Christopher also introduced Vincent Maurel, president of Framatome ANP of France, who outlined to the conference how Framatome is uniquely positioned to become a “window on the world” for utilities seeking license extensions in this country. He said Framatome’s extensive experience with plants throughout the world can be used to help find solutions for American companies as they seek those license extensions.
Johnston served four terms in the U.S. Senate, including service as chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. He was the primary sponsor of the Nuclear Waste Policy of 1982, and he authored the Energy Policy Act of 1992 that contained the landmark nuclear licensing reform provisions. Since leaving the Senate in 1997, Johnston established a strategic government relations consulting firm in Washington that is involved in the electric power industry, international trade, nuclear energy, defense activities, science and emerging technologies.
Framatome ANP (Advanced Nuclear Power), an AREVA and Siemens company, is a nuclear supplier. Framatome ANP’s focus includes comprehensive engineering; instrumentation and control; nuclear services; heavy component manufacture; modernization; fuel assemblies for many reactor designs, including those designed by other vendors, and the development and construction of nuclear power plants and research reactors.
Framatome ANP is headquartered in Paris with principal subsidiaries in the U. S. and Germany.
AREVA holds a 66 percent share of Framatome ANP and Siemens retains 34 percent. Framatome ANP has a total global workforce of 14,000 people and posts annual revenues totaling about $2.5 billion.
For further information, visit: http://www.framatome-anp.com .
AREVA, a provider of nuclear energy and connectors, includes COGEMA, FRAMATOME ANP and FCI. The group has more than 50,000 employees and is located in 30 countries. For further information, visit http://www.arevagroup.com .