By Jarret Adams
Our 104 nuclear power plants play a critical role in helping America meet its demand for clean, safe and affordable electricity. They provide electricity for one in five American homes and businesses and are by far our largest source of electricity without greenhouse gases.
As we consider ways to meet our nation’s energy demands and increase our energy security while reducing our CO2 emissions, building new nuclear power plants makes a lot of sense. Each new nuclear power plant that we build also will create thousands of jobs and spur billions of dollars of investment in local communities. In this economic environment, who wouldn’t welcome new jobs and investment in their community?
AREVA has nearly 5,000 dedicated people working at 35 sites across the country to help rebuild America’s clean energy infrastructure. We are investing billions of dollars in the nuclear supply chain, including an enrichment plant in Idaho Falls, Idaho; a component manufacturing facility in Newport News, Va.; and the development of our U.S. EPR technology in Lynchburg, Va., and Charlotte, N.C. We are also actively looking in several states for locations to build new renewable generation and supporting facilities.
Several companies pursuing new projects have applied for a federal loan guarantee to secure financing because banks are reluctant to invest in major infrastructure projects such as nuclear power plants. A loan guarantee is not a direct subsidy, and the companies that apply bear the cost of the program. Taxpayer money is only used in the case of default, and the government conducts an exhaustive review of each application before it issues even a conditional guarantee to ensure this money is never touched.
AREVA is a leader in clean energy technology and has built 100 reactors around the world. Today AREVA is building four EPR reactors in Europe and Asia, and with each project we are improving our cost and schedule. When we build our first U.S. EPR plant, we aim to build it on time and on budget.
Some oppose nuclear energy on ideological grounds and will reject any argument for this technology. Other opponents of nuclear energy have been attacking loan guarantees because they feel it will reduce government support for renewables. This is off the mark.
Nuclear energy and renewables are complementary not competitors, and this is not a zero-sum game. Expanding both nuclear power and renewables is winner, because it provides clean power, creates new jobs and spurs much-needed investment in America’s infrastructure.