New Projects, Nuclear

Americans need new nuclear energy, says power exec

16 June 2004 – America cannot afford to continue to turn its back on a source of electric energy that is low cost, dependable, safe, domestically fueled and can protect our air — nuclear energy — an executive of one of the nation’s leading nuclear power operating companies said Tuesday.

“Thirty nuclear plants are being built today in 12 countries around the world — most using American nuclear power technology as their foundation — and not a single one of those new plants is in the United States,” said Gary J. Taylor, president and chief executive officer of Entergy Nuclear.

“In America, we have a de facto moratorium on nuclear energy, intended or not.”

Entergy Nuclear, a unit of New Orleans-based Entergy Corporation, is the second largest U.S. nuclear operator with 10 units and the largest operator in the Northeast.

“Our national economy and our national energy security would benefit from the federal government and the U.S. Congress deciding on and acting to support policies that promote more nuclear energy,” he told an Executive Forum on Emerging Challenges and Trends, organized by Framatome ANP, a French power reactor service vendor.

“The most important issues are how we can maintain our quality of life and protect our environment,” Taylor said. “Nuclear energy must be a greater part of our generation mix. Nuclear generates about 20 per cent of America’s power.

“France, by comparison, generates about 75 per cent of its power with nuclear energy. As a result, France has no significant carbon dioxide emissions from power plants — that’s the greenhouse gas — and the Kyoto Protocol is a non-issue there.”

Taylor said China, coping with the world’s fastest growing power demand because of its rapidly growing economy, is well under way with the world’s largest nuclear power plant construction program. China plans to construct 34 new nuclear plants, and about half of them are already being built.

Nuclear power now supplies more than half the power in six U.S. states — Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina and Vermont. As a result of deregulation of power markets and other market- and policy-based uncertainties, no nuclear power company can afford to take the financial risk of building new nuclear plants.

Taylor said the American people are ready for their government to get serious about nuclear energy — and want the U.S. Congress to agree on an energy bill that would kick start new nuclear plants.

A national survey of 1000 Americans in April by Bisconti Research showed 65 per cent thought nuclear energy “should be one of the ways” to provide electricity. After the California power shortage in 2000, positive sentiment jumped to 65 per cent. After the 9-11 terrorist attack, favorable attitudes dropped to 63 per cent but in April were back to California power shortage levels, the highest since the question has been asked going back to 1995.

Taylor said the federal government has underfunded nuclear energy research for over a decade. For the past ten years, Congress has appropriated less than $60m a year for research in nuclear energy while fossil energy and energy efficiency each has received $600m a year. Solar and renewables like wind energy have received $320m a year.

The nuclear businesses of Entergy Corporation are headquartered in Jackson, Miss. Entergy Nuclear is the second largest and fastest growing operator of nuclear power plants in the nation. It operates five reactors at four locations in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana under regulatory jurisdictions and five reactors at four sites in Massachusetts, New York and Vermont. Entergy Nuclear also provides management services to the Cooper nuclear station in Nebraska and is the nation’s largest provider of license renewal and decommissioning services to the nuclear power industry.