WASHINGTON—Federal energy policy must send signals to the marketplace that encourage large capital projects such as power plants and refineries as well as exploration of new energy sources, NEI’s Joe Colvin said at a national energy summit.
The meeting of business and policy leaders was hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber Foundation to explore federal policy initiatives that will boost domestic energy production. Congress and the Bush Administration are fashioning national energy policy to increase energy production and promote greater energy security.
"The market must get clear signals from policy for large energy projects to move forward," said Colvin, NEI’s president and chief executive officer. "We don’t need policy to picks winners and losers in technology. It has to get our focus on long-term issues and allow predictability for long-term decisions and capital investment in new electricity production."
Nuclear energy produces more than 20 percent of U.S. electricity. More than 100 commercial reactors have generated record amounts of electricity during the last two years, 755 billion kilowatt-hours in 2000.
Greater efficiency and production at U.S. nuclear plants since 1990 equates to having added 23 new 1,000 megawatt power plants to the electricity grid–enough electricity to serve 30 percent of all new power demand during that period. Energy companies also are operating nuclear plants at record levels of safety.
"The increase in nuclear generation over the past two years would have been enough to meet the power needs of all residential consumers in California in 1999," according to data released recently from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). In fact, record production and safety levels are prompting the vast majority of energy companies to renew nuclear power plant licenses for an additional 20 years, contrary to predictions by EIA.
"The industry we had in the 70s and 80s is not the industry we have today," Colvin said. "We operate the world’s largest nuclear energy industry. We are the global leaders today and we will be the global leaders in the future. Companies are looking seriously at building new nuclear plants in the near future to meet new electricity demand."
With America’s electricity appetite expected to grow by 50 percent by 2020, Colvin said low production costs and clean air benefits will position nuclear energy as a market leader for environmentally conscious consumers. Nuclear power plants already produce two-thirds of all emission-free electricity in the United States.
"The emission-free nature of nuclear energy is an important benefit for the nation," Colvin told summit participants. The ability to produce vast amounts of electricity and protect the environment "has been a tremendous success story for our industry. Because we don’t produce greenhouse gases and because of tremendous gains in efficiency, nuclear energy must be part of an energy policy that stresses domestic production and protects the environment."
Colvin and other speakers encouraged the Bush Administration to promote energy education so that policymakers and consumers recognize the need to expand domestic energy production. "We’re looking for leadership from the Administration to educate the public about energy and how energy is produced," he said.
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 .