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Nuclear Energy Institute
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 12, 2003
Contact:, 202.739.8000 or 703.644.8805 (after hours and weekends)

Nuclear Power Plants Vital Element in President Bush’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiative

WASHINGTON—Citing its potential to achieve one-fifth of President Bush’s greenhouse gas reduction goals, the nuclear energy industry today joined a partnership of industries supporting President George Bush’s goal of reducing greenhouse gases.

“The nuclear energy industry will play a significant role in helping to achieve President Bush’s clean air goals,” said Joe F. Colvin, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) president and chief executive officer. Colvin was among several dozen association leaders and corporate executives who assembled with Bush Administration officials today to outline steps being taken in support of the voluntary program to reduce greenhouse gases that President Bush unveiled last year. The climate change initiative is termed: “Climate VISION,” or “Climate, Voluntary Innovative Sector Initiatives: Opportunities Now.”

“We are pleased to support President Bush’s initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help clean the air,” Colvin said.

Noting that the nation’s 103 nuclear power plants are by far the largest electricity source that does not pollute the air, Colvin said the industry can increase its electricity output by about 10,000 megawatts of capacity by 2012. The emissions avoided by this incremental increase—an estimated 22 million metric tons of carbon equivalent—represent approximately one-fifth of the President’s carbon-reduction goal, according to NEI’s analysis.

This additional 10,000 megawatts would come from several sources:

  • Power Uprates: Power production uprates at existing reactors can add the equivalent of 6,500-8,500 megawatts of capacity, in addition to those uprates already approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • Improved Productivity: Plants’ average capacity factor (a measure of efficiency) reached a record high in 2002 of about 91.5 percent. There is untapped efficiency still to be captured that could deliver 3,000-5,000 megawatts of additional capacity.
  • Plant Restarts: The Tennessee Valley Authority has announced its intent to restart Browns Ferry 1, a 1,280-megawatt reactor in Alabama, by 2007.

“The efforts of the nuclear power industry to meet the President’s 2012 goal build upon the nuclear industry’s clean air accomplishments during the past four decades,” Colvin said. He noted that the industry’s tremendous success in improving plant performance and efficiency added the equivalent of 25 new 1,000 megawatt power plants to the electricity grid since 1990. Nuclear power plants do not emit carbon, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulates or other air pollutants during the production of electricity.

Looking beyond 2012, Colvin said that new nuclear power plants will play a major role in sustaining the President’s commitment to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of the U.S. economy. “NEI has established an industry goal of building 50,000 megawatts of new nuclear energy capacity in the U.S. by 2020.” This additional 50,000 megawatts would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 100 million metric tons of carbon each year.

“By calling for increased reliance on nuclear energy in his National Energy Policy, President Bush clearly is committed to ensuring America’s energy independence and environmental protection. The industry shares his commitment to continue providing Americans with clean, reliable and affordable electricity from a source that doesn’t pollute the air,” Colvin said.

The Energy Information Administration reported last year that nuclear energy projects provided the largest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the federal government’s voluntary program to reduce, avoid or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear energy accounted for 47 percent of all carbon reductions even though nuclear programs constituted only 2.6 percent of the 1,882 projects reported by U.S. companies and other organizations taking part in the government’s program.

Nuclear energy provides 70 percent of the electricity that comes from generation sources that don’t pollute the air. It is unique in the nation’s future energy policy as the only expandable source of baseload electricity that doesn’t pollute the air.


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