WASHINGTON—The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) today welcomed a Bush Administration budget proposal that recognizes nuclear power's unique role as an expandable, emission-free source of baseload electricity.
The fiscal 2003 budget released by the Administration includes a new $38 million Energy Department program called the 2010 Initiative. The Initiative is aimed at building new advanced-design nuclear power plants, several of which already are certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, by the end of this decade.
"The 2010 Initiative is an important investment in our nation's energy future. It holds tremendous promise for our nation's energy security," said NEI President and Chief Executive Officer Joe F. Colvin. "The nuclear energy industry salutes President Bush and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham for their vision and their commitment to the strength of our nation's energy infrastructure. We also encourage Congress to fully fund this exciting new program."
Nuclear power plants operating in 31 states supply electricity to one of every five homes and businesses in the United States. Buoyed by three straight years of record-high electricity production, the industry has begun to receive government approval to extend the operating licenses of existing plants for an additional 20 years, and has intensified planning to set the stage for construction of new nuclear power plants.
Last May, the industry unveiled Vision 2020, a goal to add 50,000 megawatts of new nuclear generating capacity to the U.S. electricity grid over the next 20 years. The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration estimates that, at an average increase in electricity demand of just 1.8 percent annually, the United States will need 393,000 megawatts of additional generating capacity between now and 2020.
The addition of 50,000 megawatts would maintain nuclear energy's share of electricity production at 23 percent, and keep the emission-free percentage of electricity production at 30 percent-helping to keep the air clean.
"As electricity demand continues to rise, nuclear energy will be even more important to American consumers," Colvin said. "The Administration's 2010 Initiative shows that policymakers and the public are demanding further increases in the share of sustainable nuclear energy to satisfy economic growth and protect our environment."
The industry is pursuing two parallel approaches to new plant construction, Colvin said. One path focuses on the three new reactor designs already certified by the NRC, or derivatives of those designs. The other focuses on development of advanced gas-cooled reactors that also would be standardized and modular in nature.
According to a budget summary issued by the Energy Department's Office of Nuclear Energy, the 2010 Initiative would complement licensing reforms like the early site permit application and the combined construction and operating license application. "For new U.S. nuclear power plants to be a reality by 2010, DOE must support key research and development and assist industry to demonstrate unproven NRC processes," the budget summary states.
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.