Skip to main content

Pennsylvania Boasts America’s First-Ever State Legislative Nuclear Caucus

If you believe that a lot of action is taking place at the state level when it comes to policy affecting nuclear energy, you’re right, and the latest news comes out of Pennsylvania. State Senators Ryan Aument (R-36) and John Yudichak (D-14) along with Representatives Becky Corbin (R-155) and Rob Matzie (D-16) last week announced the formation of the Pennsylvania Nuclear Energy Caucus -- a bipartisan, bicameral caucus of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to focus on nuclear energy issues. Theirs is the first nuclear caucus in a state legislature in the history of the United States.
Caucus co-chair Representative Becky Corbin's district includes the Limerick Nuclear Generating Facility.
“This caucus will give members of the General Assembly an opportunity to become more educated about nuclear energy’s economic and environmental value and provide another voice in other important discussions, including electric power reliability, affordability and safety,” said Senator Aument.

Pennsylvania is home to five nuclear stations, making it the second largest nuclear capacity state in America. The electricity produced from Pennsylvania’s nuclear sources represents nearly 37 percent of the Commonwealth’s total power production, helping make the state the second largest producer of electricity in the nation and the top net exporter of electricity. Given the importance of Pennsylvania’s nuclear energy assets, it’s understandable that state lawmakers would take notice at so pivotal a time for industry.

Nuclear plants today are facing significant, durable financial headwinds, attributable to an abundance of cheap natural gas and depressed electricity demand. In many areas, the local nuclear power plant is the economic anchor of the community. These four state lawmakers know well the value of the nuclear plants in their communities.

Once a reactor begins operating, it will employ 700 to 1,000 skilled workers who will operate the plant for 60 to 80 years – likely the remainder of this century. When a nuclear plant closes, the negative economic consequences of the shutdown cascade. Our nation’s nuclear power plants truly are irreplaceable assets, a cornerstone of our national energy infrastructure, and once shut down are permanently lost.
NCSL energy program staff, Kristine Hartman and Dan Shea, co-authored the white paper on state options to preserve the nuclear fleet.
At yesterday’s first Pennsylvania Nuclear Energy Caucus event legislators filled the room for a briefing provided by the National Council of State Legislators. Just last month NCSL released a white paper titled “State Options for Keeping Nuclear in the Energy Mix.” NCSL researchers briefed the new Caucus on core findings in the state capitol.

The Q&A portion of the Caucus’ first event was a highlight. There was a wide array of diversity of energy policy opinions expressed by all the legislators present, some asking about advanced reactor licensing, others looking forward and some looking back asking about federal oversight and the legacy of used fuel. A unifying theme was a broad recognition among all the policymakers of the value and contributions of nuclear energy to the Commonwealth. That recognition is very much at the forefront of what this Caucus seeks to affirm and draw more attention to.

The above is a guest post from Christine Csizmadia, director of state governmental affairs and advocacy at NEI. Follow Christine on Twitter at @CCsizmadia.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…