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Showing posts from July, 2014

On Nuclear Power Plants and Water Use

Earlier this week, a pair of studies were published claiming that the world would soon face a critical shortage of drinking water, perhaps as soon as 2040 due to water consumed by power plants. I've come to view studies like these with a certain degree of skepticism given that they're often published by groups with an axe to grind.

This week was no different, as I couldn't help but notice that one of the studies was being proffered by Benjamin Sovacool, a long-time anti-nuclear activist, as well as the Vermont Law School, folks that we've tangled with before.

With that in mind, I reached out to NEI's Bill Skaff, our resident expert on nuclear energy and water use. Here's what he had to say.
We know of no reputable climate change modeling that finds any potential U.S. drinking water scarcity to be the result of power plant operations. In fact, electricity makes possible the purification and pumping necessary to produce potable water. Moreover, electricity will …

Why U.S. Needs Nuclear As Part of "All of the Above" Energy Strategy

The following is a guest post by Glenn McCullough, Jr. He served as Mayor of Tupelo, Mississippi and was Chairman of TVA from 2001 - 2005. Currently he is Chairman of the board for NuVision Engineering in Pittsburgh. Follow him on Twitter, @GlennMcCJr.

On January 10, the Weather Channel broadcast an extraordinarily rare headline: “Coldest Temperatures of the Century for Some.” It was referring to the "Polar Vortex," that swept into states as far south as Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia in the early days of the new year.

On the flip side, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pegged 2012 as the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States. That summer, 99 million Americans experienced at least 10 days of temperatures above 100 degrees.

Here’s the point: extreme weather happens. Whether it’s a deep cold or a stifling heat, Americans deal with varying temperature changes throughout the year. It would be nice if the only thing those shif…

Reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank is Vitally Important to Small Business

The following is a guest post from Seth Grae, president and CEO of Lightbridge Corporation, a leading innovator of nuclear fuel designs and provider of nuclear energy consulting services.

There is a notion among some members of Congress that one way to shrink the U.S. government is to allow the U.S. Export-Import Bank to cease to exist at the end of September by refusing to reauthorize it. Allowing the Ex-Im Bank to die would actually increase the federal deficit by about a billion dollars per year and would be devastating to small businesses across the country. Overall, about 85% of Ex-Im’s transactions support US small companies.

Lightbridge Corporation (NASDAQ: LTBR) is a small company that has a world-class team of experts advising governments that are starting or expanding nuclear energy-generation programs. We have the opportunity to see the bid specs these countries use in procuring nuclear power plants. From what we’ve seen, if the US loses the Ex-Im Bank, US reactor vendors wi…

Global Energy Infrastructure: Teaching Students the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

The following guest post comes from Elizabeth McAndrew-Benavides, senior manager of workforce policy and programs at NEI.

Supporting American students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers was the goal of this latest joint volunteer effort. Employees from the Nuclear Energy Institute and members of the DC Chapters of Women in Nuclear and North American Young Generation in Nuclear facilitated NAYGN's Global Nuclear Fuel Cycle game for 280 middle and high school students at the Technology Student Association's (TSA) annual conference.

“It was energizing to see the students and volunteers from the various organizations engaged in this thought provoking, interactive game with roots in the nuclear industry and STEM,” said Suzanne McKillop, a member of DC WIN.

TSA hosted 6,800 attendees at their 2014 national conference from June 27 through July 1 in Washington, D.C. TSA is the only student organization devoted exclusively to the needs of stud…

Nuclear's Contribution to a Positive Future

The following post was sent to us by Southern Nuclear’s Joshua Andrews for NEI’s Powered by Our People promotion. Powered by Our People is part of the Future of Energy campaign that NEI launched earlier this year. This promotion aims to communicate innovation in our nation’s nuclear facilities in the voices of the people working at them. 

Joshua Andrews is a nuclear engineer in the Nuclear Fuel Supply group at Southern Nuclear who has been in the nuclear industry for three years. 

For more on this promotion, take a look at the featured content on our website and follow the #futureofenergy tag across our digital channels. 

Why I enjoy working in nuclear 
My job allows me to make decisions that will directly and positively impact the lives of people I care about and the entire footprint of our service area. There will always be a need for electricity, so I can’t think of a more meaningful way to secure a positive future for myself and my family then to ensure that nuclear is seen as the mo…

Why Closing Indian Point In Summer is Like Shutting Down Mariano Rivera

Let's turn back the clock to May 9, 2001 and visit the Bronx to play a game of "what if?"

The defending World Series Champions, the New York Yankees, are locked in a tight pennant race early in the season, trailing the hated Boston Red Sox by just a half game in the standings after beating the Minnesota Twins 2-0 at home. The win was locked up thanks to the efforts of Mariano Rivera, widely acknowledged to be the best relief pitcher in the game.  

As Yankees manager Joe Torre arrives for his postgame press conference, his demeanor doesn't reveal that he's about to drop a bombshell that will rock the baseball world. Looking to add a throwaway quote to a story, one reporter asks Torre to reflect on what Rivera's pitching has meant for the team.

"What else is there to say? Without Mariano, we don't win the World Series in '98, '99 or 2000. He's at the heart of everything we do around here. Which reminds me, as of tomorrow, we're shutti…

Aligning the Nuclear Energy Industry on Social Media

I have the privilege of speaking about NEI's alignment activities on social media at the 2014 U.S. Women in Nuclear Conference this Tuesday. I'll be joined on the Social Media in Action panel by Curtis Roberts of AREVA, Suzy Hobbs Baker of PopAtomic Studios and Paul Harwood of Twitter, with Susan Downs of PPL Susquehanna serving as moderator.

We are just a handful of the communicators in the nuclear energy industry who recognize the necessity and value of engaging with stakeholders through social media. The web has evolved into a social space where platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube allow multidirectional, unfettered conversations to occur across physical boundaries and social constructs. As a result, the marketplace of ideas has never been easier to access.
Nuc-le-ar nuc-le-ar nuc-le-arrrr! (Rufio chant in prep for #USWIN2014) @WomenInNuclear@popatomicstudio@paulgharwood@sadowns369@AREVAus
— Tara Young (@taryou) July 26, 2014 With increased access, of course, c…

Why the CERES Study on Clean Energy is Fatally Flawed

Yesterday Ceres, a non-profit organization that advocates for "sustainability leadership," issued a study called, "Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy Deployment: 2014 - Ranking 32 of the Largest U.S. Investor-Owned Electric Utilities on Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency."

While we're happy to see some of our member companies get credit for their efforts in these areas, we were puzzled when four utilities with significant nuclear generating assets - Entergy, Dominion Resources, SCANA and Southern Company - were listed near the bottom of the rankings. After all, these are companies with balanced portfolios that use zero-emission nuclear energy to help bolster both grid reliability as well as hedge against price volatility and potential supply disruptions.

Yesterday afternoon we put the question directly to Ceres on Twitter:
.@CeresNews Failure to credit utilities w/#nuclear assets for keeping air clean is deliberately misleading & disservice to public…

Energy Scalability and Carbon Reduction

The following is a guest post from Scott Peterson, NEI's Senior Vice President of Communications.

The New York Times, in an April editorial, wrote that “given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy.” (The Times also supports the use of nuclear energy in a low-carbon energy portfolio.)

A new report by IHS CERA on the value of diversity of sources in the electric sector demonstrates why we cannot pin the future of America’s energy on any single fuel or technology. As with many things in life, diversity is vital and all no- or low-carbon power sources are essential as we move into a carbon-constrained energy future.

The U.S. Department of Energy projects that U.S. electricity demand will rise 28 percent by 2040. That means our nation will need hundreds of new power plants to provide electricity for our homes and continued economic growth. Maintaini…

5 Surprising Facts About Nuclear Energy

In putting together our new website section on nuclear energy's unmatched reliability, we uncovered some facts that the folks who aren't familiar with our industry might find surprising. Feel free to share them, and the below infographic, on social media.

1. Nuclear power plants are the most efficient source of electricity, operating 24/7 at a 90 percent average capacity factor.

2. A nuclear plant refuels once every 18 months, in spring or fall, replacing one-third of the fuel each time—so just-in-time fuel deliveries are never an issue.


3. One uranium fuel pellet creates as much energy as one ton of coal or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

4. A typical nuclear plant generates enough electricity for 690,000 homes without creating air emissions.

5. Nuclear energy generates more electricity than any other source in Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.

Dominion’s Lisa Hilbert: Why a Fresh Perspective Keeps Nuclear Safe and Reliable

The following post was sent to us by Dominion’s Lisa Hilbert for NEI’s Powered by Our People promotion. Powered by Our People is part of the Future of Energy campaign that NEI launched earlier this year

This promotion aims to communicate innovation in our nation’s nuclear facilities in the voices of the people working at them. 

For more on this promotion, take a look at the featured content on our website and follow the #futureofenergy tag across our digital channels.

Lisa Hilbert has worked in the nuclear energy industry for 24 years. She is currently the manager for nuclear outages and planning at Dominion’s Surry nuclear power station 17 miles from Newport News, Va. She began her career in the company’s mechanical engineering department, and held positions in operations, corrective action and nuclear oversight before joining the company’s Outage & Planning team.

What I do and why I enjoy doing it
Outage & Planning coordinates the preparation and execution of all scheduled wo…

Nuclear Energy’s Unmatched Reliability

The following is a guest blog post by NEI’s Mitch Singer. Today, tomorrow and Thursday, we’ll be taking a closer look at how nuclear energy facilities function as the backbone of the electric grid, operating at full power when demand is at its highest in summer and winter. Click here to see why nuclear energy’s reliability is unmatched in the electric business. Later, take some time to better understand the value of "Always On Power," and then see "How Nuclear Power Plants Prep," for times when demands is at its height.

As we enter the height of the summer season when sweltering heat waves challenge utilities to keep pace with hundreds of millions of air conditioners running at full blast, it’s comforting for Americans to know that relief from stifling heat will be there when they need it.

The system is so reliable that we take for granted that, when we step inside our homes or workplaces, we’ll be met with a refreshing flow of cool air. Until it isn’t there. Some…

Higher and Higher: EEI Uncovers The Cost of Electricity in Germany

Here’s the bottom line on Germany’s drive to switch from nuclear energy to renewables: [T]he lessons learned in Europe prove that the large-scale integration of renewable power does not provide net savings to consumers, but rather a net increase in costs to consumers and other stakeholders.There’s more:Moreover, when not properly assessed in advance, large-scale integration of renewables into the power system ultimately leads to disequilibrium in the power markets, as well as value destruction to both renewable companies and utilities, and their respective investors.This is from a report prepared by energy consulting firm Finadvice (a Finnish company, though its web site and the report are in English) for the Edison Electric Institute and Finadvice’s European clients. Neither EEI nor Finadvice have any particular brief for nuclear energy (in this context) and are interested in studying the transition primarily as a case study in quickly ramping up renewable energy sources. Nuclear…

5 Myths About the Export-Import Bank

Later today, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) will be holding a briefing for House members on the Ex-Im Bank. Recently, the majority staff at Hensarling's committee published their list of "5 Things to Know About the Export-Import Bank." We think the title of the blog is something of a misnomer. Instead, the piece should have been titled, "5 Myths About the Export-Import Bank."

Here's our point-by-point rebuttal:

1. The Ex-Im Bank doesn’t create jobs.

Why this is wrong: The Ex-Im Bank supports just 2 percent of all U.S. exports, which from 2007 to 2014 amounted to $240 billion of export assistance. In terms of jobs, that’s support for 1.5 million U.S. employees.

According to the Bank, every $1 billion in export assistance supports 6,390 U.S. jobs. Countless testimonials by large, medium, and small businesses state that their ability to export would simply not occur without the Bank's assistance.

2. T…

Idaho National Labs: Taking Nuclear Energy into the Digital Age

The following blog post was submitted by Idaho National Laboratory’s Caleb Robison for NEI’s Powered by Our People promotion. Powered by Our People is part of NEI’s campaign called Future of Energy, which NEI launched earlier this year. This promotion aims to communicate innovation in our nation’s nuclear facilities—in the voices of their workforces.

Caleb Robison is an experiment system engineer who has worked at the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory for the past nine years. He also mentors the next generation of nuclear professionals by participating in INL’s internship program.

We can’t wait to highlight your facility’s innovators and their part in the #futureofenergy across our digital channels from July to September. Take a look at the featured content on our website.


Caleb Robison works at the lab's Advanced Test Reactor (ATR), where he prepares safety documentation for new experiments, coordinates experiment schedules with reactor operations cycles and prov…

NEI's Lipman Testifies on Future of International Civilian Nuclear Cooperation

The following is a guest post from Dan Lipman, Executive Director, Policy Development and Supplier Programs at the Nuclear Energy Institute. Prior to his stint at NEI, Dan was responsible for managing the global deployment of new power plants at Westinghouse. While there, he led new plant projects in Korea and the deployment of 10 new AP1000 EPC contracts in China and the U.S. 

Later this morning, I will be testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on The Future of International Civilian Nuclear Cooperation. Having spent several decades around the world working for Westinghouse, I've seen first-hand how international nuclear commerce can help support American influence abroad as well as create jobs and economic growth back home
NEI believes that the global expansion of nuclear energy infrastructure provides the United States a unique opportunity to meet several national imperatives at the same time:  (1) increasing U.S. influence over nuclear nonproliferation policy …

Being a Nuclear Engineer at AREVA

The following post was created by Abbey Donahue for NEI’s Powered by Our People promotion. Powered by Our People is part of NEI’s campaign called Future of Energy, which NEI launched earlier this year. This promotion aims to communicate innovation in our nation’s nuclear facilities—in the voices of their workforces. For more on this promotion, take a look at the featured content on our website and follow the #futureofenergy tag across our digital channels.

Abbey is a Design Project Engineer for Areva TN and has worked in the nuclear industry for five years. Abbey is also the professional development chair of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN). Follow her on Twitter, @chatteyabbey.

“What do you do?” Like many places, in Washington, D.C., it’s a question that comes up in just about every conversation. “I’m an engineer at a nuclear energy company,” I reply. The most frequent reaction is an “Oh” that varies in intonation and accompanying expression. At times it reflects…

Facts on the Spent Fuel Pool at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5

Last night, Fox News picked up a report from Russia Today concerning a leak in the spent fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi Unit Five.
Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was forced to switch off the cooling system at Reactor Unit 5, after engineers discovered it had been leaking water. If the system is not repaired within the next nine days, temperatures are expected to soar, Russian news site RT reported Sunday. As our readers might recall, our go to guy on Fukushima and spent fuel is Tom Kauffman, a former reactor operator from Three Mile Island. Here's what he wrote to me after I shared the Fox News link with him:
The used fuel has cooled to the point that even if all the water was lost, radiation levels would increase due to a loss of shielding, but there’s no way the fuel produces enough heat to damage itself let alone incinerate. A good rule of thumb: Even in a densely packed fuel pool, 107 days after fresh used fuel is placed in the pool, there is insuff…