Nuclear Energy is Finding New Support

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Energy Fairness has been vocal in our support for nuclear energy over the years, especially in regards to our nation’s only nuclear construction project, Plant Vogtle. Recently, it appears that lawmakers are finally taking note of the benefits of nuclear energy. 

Back in March, a bipartisan group of 15 U.S. Senators reintroduced legislation to instate the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA). NELA would aim to offer incentives and set new federal goals for advancing nuclear technology research. The bill was originally introduced by a smaller group of senators last year, but was never voted on. 

NELA will allow the government to enter into 40 year purchase power agreements (PPAs) with nuclear power providers, basically ensuring that any new nuclear plant would be able to sell its power for 40 years. This would help to reduce some of the uncertainty that comes with building a new nuclear plant. NELA would also direct the Department of Energy to create a 10 year strategic plan for research and development of advanced nuclear reactors and create a nuclear leadership program to train the next generation of nuclear engineers.

New advanced nuclear reactors would build upon the traditional light water reactors that are used today. Nuclear energy has been on the decline in recent decades, which is a shame for efforts to fight climate change, because nuclear is an extremely reliable, long-lived source of clean electricity. 

NELA has received quite a bit of high profile support recently, with Bill Gates praising the bill saying, “I can’t overstate how important this is.

“To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to reach near-zero emissions on all the things that drive it—agriculture, electricity, manufacturing, transportation, and buildings—by investing in innovation across all sectors while deploying low cost renewables,” Gates tweeted. 

“Nuclear energy is one of these critical technologies. It’s ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that’s available 24 hours a day,” he continued. 

Also, just last week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV)  a letter urging the committee to advance NELA.

“In light of the challenges posed by climate change, innovative nuclear energy technologies hold great promise to provide reliable, affordable, safe, and carbon-free electricity to power America forward,” Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in the letter. “As such, the Chamber urges the Committee to favorably report S. 903 to the full Senate.”

“NELA would bolster America’s historic leadership in nuclear energy by developing next-generation nuclear energy resources,” the letter continued. “While other countries have developed competing nuclear industries, our domestic development and use of nuclear generation has stagnated. NELA would tip the balance back in our favor.”

This piece of legislation could go a long way toward returning the U.S. to leadership in the advancement of nuclear energy and making our power grid cleaner and more efficient. Let’s hope more of our lawmakers stand up and take note.