NEI urges US to keep sight of nuclear

23 April 2015

As the US administration releases the first instalment of an ongoing program to draw up a roadmap for the country's future energy policy, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is urging the Department of Energy (DOE) to include an electricity generation portfolio - especially nuclear energy - in its long-term planning.

The first instalment of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) focuses on energy grid infrastructure and development.

NEI said the review must be broadened to include electricity generation and investment. It described the preservation of the country's operating nuclear plants and the creation of favourable market conditions for new ones to be built are "at least as important" as the grid infrastructure and transmission issues outlined in the DOE-authored report.

The first instalment of the QER focuses on needs and opportunities for modernizing the USA's energy transmission, storage, and distribution (TS&D) infrastructure, seeking to identify vulnerabilities in the system while proposing policy recommendations to replace, expand, and modernize infrastructure where appropriate. The study encompasses pipelines, storage facilities, waterways, railways, and other facilities, as well as the electricity distribution grid.

NEI vice president for policy development and planning, Richard Myers, said the US electricity sector risked losing fuel and technology diversity as dependence on natural gas generation increased and as other power plants reached retirement age. "These circumstances do not bode well for our nation's energy future [without] a coordinated effort to retain the full portfolio of energy options," he said.

The QER is part of the US administration's climate action plan, aiming to identify the threats, risks, and opportunities for US energy and climate security, to enable the federal government to translate policy goals into a set of integrated actions for the country's energy infrastructure. The NEI cautioned against separating the delivery of energy - the TS&D infrastructure - from its supply and production in a September 2014 submission to the QER.

Myers said that nuclear energy is vital for the administration to meet two of its top policy goals - maintaining a diversity of energy sources and lowering carbon emissions from electricity generation. "There is no question that America needs to increase its use of nuclear energy as we move deeper into the 21st century," he said.

The US administration's 'all–of-the-above' energy policy initiative and its commitment to reduce carbon emissions from the electric power sector would be at serious risk if existing reactors were shut down and construction of new nuclear capacity was not supported, Myers said.

"Our nation can take a step in the right direction by preserving existing nuclear energy facilities and preparing to build new reactors in the next decade. A continuing, growing contribution from nuclear energy will produce much of the baseload electricity needed at stable prices and help achieve desired reductions in emissions of carbon and other pollutants," he added.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News