Here at Energy Fairness, we have consistently advocated for nuclear power for its many benefits and it seems that lawmakers everywhere are starting to take note. Just last week, Ohio lawmakers took decisive action to protect the state’s nuclear plants. The move comes on top of several such moves taking place across the country and around the world.
Ohio’s legislation makes good sense for the state which has seen a number of coal plants closing in recent years, sparking concerns that the state may become entirely too dependent on natural gas for electricity. The bill also phases out renewable energy and efficiency mandates that haven’t been cost-effective for customers
“Our goal all along has been to save the nuclear plants, save the jobs but also to keep the cost of energy down for the ratepayer,” say Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.
Natural gas prices have dropped dramatically in recent years, and it has become the fuel of choice for many electricity providers. However, a growing reliance on natural gas could become a problem if supplies are interrupted for any reason. We need a variety of power sources to ensure we keep the lights on and, as the world is increasingly figuring out, nuclear is a great option. It doesn’t create greenhouse gas emissions and nuclear reactors can run for long periods of time without interruption. They also make a great source of back up power for renewables such as wind and solar.
Over reliance on natural gas is an even bigger problem in Europe and Asia, where natural gas is mostly imported from overseas. Fortunately, quite a few countries are jumping on the nuclear bandwagon. For example, the Netherlands is moving forward with new legislation to grow nuclear energy in the country and Taiwan is expected to elect a pro-nuclear president next year which would likely restart the country’s stalled nuclear industry. In South Korea, surveys find that 70% of voters oppose the government’s phase-out of nuclear energy, which has increased electricity prices and air pollution. France, which currently gets more of its energy from nuclear than any other country in the world, has delayed efforts to phase out its nuclear plants from 2025 to 2035.
Closer to home, new legislation has been proposed by Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) to extend the life of U.S. nuclear plants from 60 to 80 years. The longer operating time could be critical for meeting carbon reduction goals which would combat the worst effects of climate change.
“In 2017, the U.S. nuclear power fleet produced enough emissions-free energy to prevent the release of 547 million metric tons of CO2 into our atmosphere,” said Senator Coons in a statement.
“I’m proud that this legislation will allow the Department of Energy to provide nuclear power plants with the requisite tools and research to increase their cost-competitiveness and develop the new technologies they require to operate efficiently.”
Having access to range of power sources, especially one such as nuclear that can run constantly while working to meet carbon reduction goals is a win for both consumers and the planet. Let’s hope this trend continues.