WASHINGTON—A majority of Americans believe nuclear energy will play an important role in meeting the country’s electricity needs, and they support policies being considered as part of national energy policy legislation for building new nuclear plants, according to a nationwide survey.
The U.S. Senate is considering legislation that would meet the nation’s energy needs through increased energy production, conservation and efficiency. Nuclear energy already generates 20 percent of U.S. electricity, and supplies the largest percentage of electricity in seven states, including Vermont, South Carolina, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. The U.S. House of Representatives approved comprehensive energy legislation in April and a similar bill is being considered by the full Senate.
Of the 1,000 adults surveyed by Bisconti Research Inc./NOP World :
83 percent said nuclear energy will be “important” in meeting America’s electricity needs in the years ahead. Half of those surveyed characterized it as “very important.”
80 percent of the respondents said the U.S. Department of Energy and electric utilities should work together to develop new state-of-the-art nuclear power plants to meet growing electricity demand. “Strong” agreement has increased by 18 percentage points over the past year, to 55 percent.
64 percent support providing financial incentives for these advanced design nuclear power plants. This assistance could include provisions similar to those currently being considered by the U.S. Senate, such as loan guarantees and/or tax credits.
79 percent agreed that nuclear energy’s importance in meeting clean air regulations should be recognized in state and federal energy and environmental policy. Nuclear power plants generate large amounts of electricity without emitting any air pollutants or greenhouse gases, making these facilities among the most valuable resources in meeting the Clean Air Act and in emerging programs to reduce greenhouse gases.
Public support for nuclear energy is based on attributes that consumers consider most important in how their electricity is produced – clean, reliable and affordable. Also, 66 percent of those questioned said they believe nuclear plants are a safe source of energy.
“Planning for the future has become a basic value in considerations about energy policy,” said Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research Inc. “Nuclear energy has always been viewed as a fuel of the future, but the perception that nuclear energy will play an important role has strengthened in the past few years.”
A record 70 percent favors the use of nuclear energy as one of the ways to produce electricity. This favorable attitude was observed among all demographics groups, including registered voters (72 percent), self-described environmentalists (71 percent), Democrats (66 percent), Independents (67 percent), and Republicans (82 percent).
NEI President and CEO Skip Bowman said the Senate’s energy policy legislation emphasizes fuel diversity and energy efficiency as cornerstones of sound public policy on energy.
“The legislation will create new jobs and make America more secure and less dependent on foreign energy,” Bowman wrote in a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate. The legislation “recognizes the important role the existing 103 nuclear plants play in the national energy mix, while setting the stage to permit the industry to increase the supply of safe, clean, affordable and reliable electricity this country will need in the years to come.”
The poll was conducted from May 5 through 9 by Bisconti Research, Inc. of Washington, D.C., with NOP World. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.
To review a copy of the complete poll, please visit the Library of the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Web site at http://www.nei.org .
 Telephone survey of 1,000 adults nationwide by Bisconti Research Inc/NOP World, May 5-9, 2005, margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org.