Is the Nuclear Power Industry Economical?

The economic benefit of the nuclear power industry, as a whole, should be a focus of the ongoing evaluation of the industry, ref. 1. Unfortunately the national debate about the value of nuclear power does not typically include its value to the national economy.

In March 2014, a bipartisan organization was established to support nuclear energy, called “Nuclear Matters.” The organization’s website, at >www.nuclearmatters.com>, provides compelling economic data about the nuclear power industry in the U. S. For example, the industry provides about 100,000 jobs through direct employment. It’s domestic procurement of goods and services is obtained from 22,500 vendors and amounts to about $14 billion. The industry pays a total of $8.3 billion annually for local, state and federal taxes. A typical nuclear plant employs 500-700 people at an average wage rate that is 36% above the prevailing local wage rate. And finally, it is noted that 36% of the industry’s workforce will be eligible to retire in 2016, providing tens of thousands of job opportunities for new workers.

Let’s compare the employment benefits of wind turbines, coal and nuclear electric power plants, ref. 1.

1. The 1000 MW, rated Nuclear Plant requires 500 jobs, at an average salary of $31./hour and yields a total yearly salary of $32. million.
2. The 1000 MW, rated Coal Plant requires 187 jobs, at an average salary of $28./hour and yields a total yearly salary of $11. million.
3. The 1000 MW, rated Wind Farm requires 50 jobs, at an average salary of $35./hour and yields a total salary of less than $1. million.

By comparing the above information, 1 thru 3, nuclear energy is the most employment and salary-intensive source of electricity production. It should be noted that wind turbines produce only about 38% of their rated power, per year, because of wind availability. In contrast nuclear electric plants operate about 90% of the time at rated power. The nuclear power industry supports over 700,000 permanent jobs nationally. Nuclear generation is and always has been clean and carbon free. The future closure of coal fired electric plants, starting in 2015, will result in unemployment for thousands of workers. The stagnation of nuclear electric production has sadly closed the door for new employment growth in an industry that offers high paying jobs. The fallacy of the current administration energy policy is that it has advocated wind energy and has discouraged the growth of the nuclear industry. Growth of nuclear electric generation is needed for energy independence.

The economic benefits and creation of jobs driven by the nuclear power industry need to be at the forefront of the energy policy discussion in the United States.

Ref. 1. Byus, Linda C., “The economic value of the U. S. nuclear power industry”, Nuclear News, Published by the American Nuclear Society, Sept. 2014.