HOUSTON—The Nuclear Energy Institute is hailing as "welcome and warranted" the International Energy Agency's call today for policies that will strengthen nuclear power's leading role in the United States' energy system. The International Energy Agency issued its recommendations in support of nuclear power as part of the "1998 Review of Energy Policies of the United States" that it released during the World Energy Congress here.
The 150-page report (www.iea.org) states that the United States should "maintain the nuclear option, inter alia, by supporting appropriate educational opportunities and (research and development) programmes." Nuclear energy provides nearly 20 percent of the nation's electricity needs.
"The International Energy Agency's advocacy of pro-nuclear policies is welcome and warranted," said Angelina S. Howard, senior vice president for the Nuclear Energy Institute. "Nuclear energy is crucial for achievement of the nation's economic and environmental goals. The technology has a bright future and is a highly competitive source of power in the emerging world of electricity competition. But the opportunities that are at hand to maximize nuclear energy's role for the nation's economic and environmental well-being can best be fully realized if federal and state policies adjust to the realities of a competitive marketplace."
The report released by IEA, an autonomous, Paris-based body that carries out energy cooperation among 24 counties belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), contains seven nuclear recommendations, as follows:
maintain the nuclear option;
ensure that Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety regulation is cost-effective "without prejudicing the high safety levels already achieved;"
ensure "early progress toward an interim retrievable storage for spent nuclear fuel" using funds already collected from ratepayers;
expedite progress on the characterization of Yucca Mountain, Nev., the site that is under scientific study as a possible permanent repository for used nuclear fuel;
ensure that decommissioning funds are set aside in adequate amounts and given privileged protection;
ensure that regulations do not impede the "efficient transfer" of nuclear power plants to new ownership; and
remove the "discrimination against foreign investment" in civil nuclear facilities.
At a news conference in which the IEA report was released, Robert Gee, deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy, concurred that "nuclear energy ought to continue to remain a viable option," and said the Clinton Administration supports measures "to see how we can extend the existing lives of our nuclear capacity."
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.