WASHINGTON—In a major speech on energy policy today at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s national small business conference in Washington, President Bush called for a form of risk insurance in the licensing process for new nuclear power plants. The proposal is designed to increase confidence among the business and financial communities that potential regulatory delays that are beyond industry’s control in licensing new nuclear power plants will not be an impediment to new plant construction. Below is a statement from Skip Bowman, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer:
“The nuclear industry applauds President Bush for his leadership and his willingness to embrace new ideas in order to secure a strong energy future for the American people. The nation’s electricity sector requires significant investment stimulus and protection against unavoidable licensing delays. The president’s proposal to include incentives for new nuclear power plant construction in a broader package of energy sector policies is obviously welcome and vital to meeting our future energy needs.
“We strongly support his call for a form of risk indemnification insurance to help overcome uncertainties in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s new licensing process for new nuclear power plants. Given the fact that many energy companies already are participating on a cost-sharing basis with the Department of Energy to test the NRC’s new process for issuing early site permits and combined construction and operating licenses, we hope that the regulatory certainty that we seek will be established, and that the risk insurance program that the president is proposing never will be needed.
“This is an example of how the federal government can act as a catalyst for advanced energy technologies that are clearly in the national interest and will be of great benefit for generations to come. The president’s proposal complements other forms of limited economic incentives for new nuclear plants that are under consideration in energy legislation taking shape in Congress. These limited incentives will be in place only for the first several new-design nuclear power plants that our nation needs to help assure future energy diversity and security.
“There is widespread recognition that nuclear energy offers an emission-free source of electricity that can be readily expanded to meet our needs for reliable, baseload power and reach our clean-air goals. The expected increase of America’s electricity demand by 50 percent over the next 20 years, along with increased awareness of our global environment, means that new nuclear power plants must be part of our energy future. We look forward to working with the president and Congress to pass an energy bill that achieves the dual goals of sustainable economic growth and environmental stewardship.”
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.