State, national policy leaders assert nuclear energy’s benefits
NPRE 2016 Leadership Speaker Series
Speaking at the University of Illinois-sponsored informational forum, “Nuclear Power: What it means in Illinois,” and in light of a plan to close two generating plants in the state, a host of speakers including Congresswoman Cheri Bustos advocated for nuclear energy.
Exelon Corporation has filed intent to close reactors at the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear generating stations in western Illinois and central Illinois, respectively. Warning of job and tax base losses sustained from closures, many of the speakers extolled nuclear energy as a reliable energy source that is environmentally friendly, with zero carbon emissions.
Representing the Illinois 17th Congressional District that includes the Quad Cities, Bustos pointed out closures of the two plants would cost 4,300 direct jobs and have a negative financial impact of $1.2 billion. Bustos pressed upon Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and leaders of the state House and Senate to pass legislation to protect the plants. “We have until about December to make some kind of decision,” she said.
Lonnie Stephenson, International President of the 750,000-member International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, maintained nuclear energy must be part of a sustainable future. “Nuclear power is so vital,” he said. “We can’t as a nation keep our energy grid secure and online while reducing our carbon footprint without nuclear.”
The federal government is supportive of nuclear energy’s role, as well, said John Kotek, Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy. “President Obama and (DOE) Secretary (Ernest) Moniz have made clear that nuclear energy is an important part of America’s clean energy strategy, helping to provide dependable and affordable energy while reducing our carbon emissions.”
Kotek’s office is responsible for conducting research on current and future nuclear energy systems, maintaining the government’s nuclear energy research infrastructure, establishing a path forward for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and high-level nuclear waste management program, and a host of other national priorities.
Speakers also included Illinois State Sens. Donne Trotter, Chapin Rose and Neil Anderson, who have sponsored Senate Bill 1585 that promotes market-based solutions to keep the plants open. The bill would establish a Low Carbon Portfolio Standard (LCPS) that would help to reduce carbon emissions, increase renewable energy and maintain a stable and secure electricity supply in the state. The senators also showed concern for consumers over the impact of the plant closures on rising electricity prices. Trotter said talks are proceeding well to move the legislation out of committee.
Held to consider the economic and environmental impact nuclear power has upon the state, as well as the consequences of limiting the resource as an energy provider, Tuesday’s event was sponsored by the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), and North America’s Building Trades Unions.
The event held Tuesday, October 18, 2016, in Chicago was part of NPRE’s Leadership Speaker Series, intended to provide a forum for global leaders to present policies and platforms that shape the sciences of nuclear, plasma and radiological disciplines.
“Illinois is the birthplace of nuclear power,” said NPRE Department Head Jim Stubbins. “The state has been an international leader in the development and uses of nuclear energy. With about half of the electricity in Illinois coming from nuclear power plants, we should value and preserve them all for their major current and long-term contributions to energy and a low-carbon environment in Illinois.”
Other speakers at the forum were:
- Jeffrey Binder, Director, Applied Research Institute at the University of Illinois
- David Foster, Senior Advisor, DOE
- Matt Bennett, Senior Vice President, Third Way
- Maria G. Korsnick, Chief Operating Officer, Nuclear Energy Institute
- William Hite, General President, United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry, United States and Canada
- Petros Sofronis, Director, WPI International Institute on Carbon Neutral Research at the University of Illinois
- David Boyd, MISO External Affairs Team
- Susan F. Tierney, Senior Advisor, Analysis Group
- Tim Followell, City Administrator, Clinton, Illinois
- Henry Marquard, Director of Government Affairs, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce