WASHINGTON—Nuclear energy must remain a leading source of electricity in New Jersey for decades to come if the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector are to prove successful without major upheaval for industry and consumers, according to a new report by a Boston-based engineering and environmental firm.
Even under the “low-growth” electricity demand scenario, all four reactors operating in New Jersey must keep producing electricity. And the two reactors whose licenses expire prior to the 2019 RGGI compliance date must renew their federal operating licenses for an additional 20 years to meet electricity demand and the state’s air quality goals, according to the report by Polestar Applied Technology Inc.
New Jersey electric companies must continue the operation of all four reactors, relicense two of those reactors and build a fifth reactor under the “high-growth” scenario, the Polestar analysis reveals.
Entitled “Reducing CO2 Emissions in New Jersey: The Imperative of Nuclear Power,” the study was commissioned by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), whose members include energy companies that operate nuclear power plants in New Jersey. NEI is the policy organization for the U.S. nuclear industry, representing nearly 280 companies from 15 countries.
It commissioned the study because 10 Northeastern states developed a plan under the framework of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions—chiefly carbon dioxide—in the electricity sector. The 10 states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia are “observing” the RGGI effort that began in 2003.
“This assessment shows the strategic importance of nuclear energy in meeting New Jersey’s commitment under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative if the state hopes to meet its carbon dioxide emissions limit by the 2019 deadline,” said Polestar’s Stephen Allen, the report’s principal author. “Continued operation of all four New Jersey reactors and license renewal at Oyster Creek and Salem 1 are imperative even in the low-growth scenario that factors in aggressive energy efficiency and conservation measures.”
Nuclear energy produces electricity without emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Four reactors produce more than half of New Jersey’s electricity, according to the Polestar report.
Nationally, 104 nuclear power plants operating in 31 states provide electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses. They provide more than 70 percent of all electricity generation that emits no air pollutants or greenhouse gases. Nuclear power plants avoid carbon dioxide emissions equivalent annually to the carbon dioxide emissions from virtually all passenger cars in the United States.
To date, the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant has filed an application for a 20-year license extension with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). License renewal applications for all three reactors at the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power stations are expected to be submitted to the NRC in 2009.
“New Jersey faces a particularly daunting challenge: Simultaneously reducing carbon dioxide emissions, complying with grid reliability standards and meeting growth in electricity demand,” Allen said. “It simply is not possible to achieve the desired carbon dioxide emissions reductions without nuclear power.”
NEI’s director of policy development, Paul Genoa, said that even under modest projections of New Jersey electricity growth for the next 15 years, the value of nuclear energy is clear.
“Nuclear energy is the state’s largest electricity producer and the only baseload power source that does not produce greenhouse gases or emissions that result in smog or acid rain,” Genoa said. “As the state strives to limit carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector, this report makes clear that New Jersey residents will benefit tremendously from long-term operation of nuclear plants, and even more so from new nuclear plant construction.”
Following up from yesterday’s media advisory, you can speak with the Polestar report’s principal author Steve Allen and NEI’s Paul Genoa today at 1 p.m. by calling 1-800-496-4518/Code: 529192.