The U.S. without Nuclear Power
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander is the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. He recently announced a year-long series of hearings to address our energy needs. His recommendations are, ref. 1:
1. Build more nuclear electric power plants.
2. End the nuclear waste stalemate.
3. Stop Washington from picking energy winners and losers in the market place. The wind electricity tax production credit has been in place for 22 years. This years subsidy will cost taxpayers more than $6 billion. The subsidy to large wind farms is so generous that in some markets wind producers can literally give their electricity away and still make a profit. After 22 years and billions of dollars in subsidies wind only produces 4% of our electricity.
4. Push back against excessive regulation of the nuclear industry.
5. Fuel more free market innovation with government sponsored research and encourage energy diversity.
Senator Alexander reported a number of key findings.
1. Up to 25 of our 99 nuclear reactors could close by 2020. Currently the 99 nuclear plants supply 20% of our electricity.
2. Nuclear produced electricity is cheap, reliable and safe. We’ve never had anyone die in a nuclear accident at any of our commercial reactors or on our naval fleet.
3. Nuclear power provides about 60% of country’s carbon-free electricity.
4. Japan’s electric rates increased by 56% since they began shutting down their reactors in 2011. Japan’s industry leaders have requested an early restart of the country’s nuclear power plants. If Japan doesn’t keep the reactors operating their economy will wither because young people will move abroad.
5. In Germany it is estimated that $1.2 trillion (U.S. dollars) will be needed to replace nuclear plants with wind, solar and the accompanying infrastructure. It is expected that the shift to renewable energy will lead to increased electricity prices. Over the past five years electricity prices have jumped by 60%. Germany has among the highest household electricity prices in the European Union. Increased electricity costs will endanger the industrial base of the Germany economy. While closing their nuclear plants, Germany is buying nuclear power from France, buying natural gas from Russia and has started to build new coal fired electric power plants. By 2020 it is expected that nearly 55% of its base load electricity will be purchased from other countries.
With regard to our need for more nuclear electric power plants, Sen. Alexander supports building 148 new 1,250 MW nuclear electric power plants. A point of interest in the book “Renewable Energy: A Common Sense Energy Plan”, the energy plan calls for building 150 new nuclear electric power plants to partially meet our future electricity demand. To fully meet our electricity demand an equal number of natural gas fired electric plants are also needed.
1. Alexander, Lamar, “The United States Without Nuclear Power” and how to prevent it. Press Release,