NEI: Nuclear power provides ‘critical infrastructure’

U.S. policymakers understand the potential impact of losing nuclear plants/power, and states are gradually recognizing the benefits of nuclear power to consumers, the economy and the environment, according to Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) CEO Maria Korsnick.

America’s nuclear reactors provide an irreplaceable suite of benefits to consumers, the economy and the environment, Korsnick told roughly 150 Wall Street financial analysts last Friday at a briefing in New York.

Korsnick said nuclear power is the "backbone" of the U.S. power grid, providing sustained economic benefits, assuring grid reliability and supplying the country's largest source of low-carbon energy, Kallanish Energy learns.

“We see states, regions and the federal government taking actions to preserve our nuclear power plants. They recognize that these plants constitute critical infrastructure that is too valuable to lose,” Korsnick said.

The NEI chief executive identified two challenges to the U.S. nuclear industry: preserving its existing nuclear fleet, and creating policy conditions under which companies will build and develop new nuclear capacity.

"The grid of the future will include a growing role for intermittent renewable energy, so the nuclear reactors of the future will accommodate that reality. Some will make electricity around the clock. Others will produce electricity when it's needed, then produce other products when it is not. Some will supply the transportation market,” Korsnick said.

The country's existing nuclear power plants need to be preserved so the knowledge and expertise developed in support of today's fleet will assist the development of new reactor technologies, she said.

"We see this now,” Korsnick said. “We have four reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina. These designs use passive safety approaches to advance the state of the art in nuclear technology. This approach was informed by decades of operational experience and innovation."

In addition, combined construction and operating licenses for seven additional reactors have been issued by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with three more currently being evaluated, providing "valuable options" for future development.