The following op-ed from David Holt, President of Consumer Energy Alliance, appeared on the National Journal website here, in response to the discussion question “Does nuclear fit the bill?”
October 23, 2009 It is indeed encouraging to see Congress turning more attention towards nuclear energy as a source of affordable domestic energy. Greater use of nuclear energy is absolutely a necessary step to becoming a more environmentally responsible, energy-producing nation. Nuclear energy is not only the most readily available form of clean-air electricity, but it is also the most sustainable and cost-effective. Of all forms of clean-air electricity, nuclear energy has the smallest impact on the environment. If we invest in this form of power now, we will see benefits for years to come.
In any discussion of climate change, nuclear power is a must. Just like other major sources of clean-air electricity, such as hydroelectric power, wind energy and solar energy, nuclear power plants do not emit any carbon or greenhouse gases. And nuclear energy is the only large-scale, clean-air electricity source that can be expanded widely to produce large amounts of energy. In fact, it makes up nearly 74 percent of the nation’s clean-air electricity.
As we potentially work toward a new generation of nuclear plant development, it is important to note that average nuclear production costs have already declined more than 30 percent in the past 10 years to 1.87 cents per kilowatt-hours, and new and more complex forms of technology are continually being explored to make this cost even lower. Currently, it is the lowest-cost producer of baseload electricity.
We believe that any legislation that addresses climate change and decreased dependency on foreign oil should also encourage increased use of nuclear energy as part of an overall push toward a balanced domestic energy program and should expand tax incentives for construction of new nuclear plants and nuclear electricity generation. It should also provide $2 billion over 10 years from federal energy research, development, demonstration and deployment budgets for demonstration of one to two new advanced nuclear facilities.