WASHINGTON, D.C.—The president of the AFL-CIO’s Building & Construction Trades Department believes that Congress should expand the federal loan guarantee program for clean-energy technologies and that other efforts – such as formation of a “clean energy bank” – also should be considered to develop critical infrastructure within the nation’s electric sector.
A major deficiency in the federal loan guarantee program to jump-start new clean-energy projects is that the loan guarantee volume of $18.5 billion for new nuclear projects “is not sufficient in either duration or dollars” to achieve the growth in electricity production from new nuclear power plants that the nation needs, labor union President Mark Ayers said at the Nuclear Energy Institute’s annual meeting in Chicago last week.
Citing nuclear energy’s value as a carbon-free technology, Ayers said, “Each day more and more interest groups are recognizing the need for nuclear energy in combating global warming trends.”
Ayers described the relationship between NEI and the Building & Construction Trades Department as one in which both entities “have consistently and successfully worked together for the advancement of a common set of interests and mutual goals. …We will be there with you to help pursue the adoption of a diverse American energy portfolio that places a high priority on the re-emergence of nuclear power.”
In the current Congress, Ayers said, “Our primary mission is to secure an extension of the loan guarantee program to ‘kick start’ the renewal of nuclear power generation in this country.” He also expressed the desire to explore ways to advance the concept of a “clean energy bank” that would help finance construction of capital-intensive energy projects, including nuclear plants.
Ayers outlined several proposals aimed at fostering a more collaborative relationship between the union’s 2.5 million members and the companies considering building as many as 30 new nuclear plants over the next 15-20 years. The proposals include: establishing multi-craft training centers located near or on nuclear plant sites; developing specialized training partnerships with vendors and suppliers to certify all workers; developing programs to train local work forces for in-house careers in the nuclear industry; and work force rotation on sites to obtain a well-rounded education and exposure to all operations of a nuclear facility.
“All of these proposals are designed to more effectively meet the construction, maintenance and operations need of the nuclear industry – an industry that is so heavily reliant upon the most highly skilled, safe and productive work force in the world,” Ayers said. “We will bring the industry’s best training and customized skills development for a reliable, 21st century work force.”
Building a new nuclear plant would result in the creation of 1,400 to 1,800 jobs during construction. Peak employment would be as high as 2,400 jobs.