For the first time in its history of tracking the sentiment of the American public toward nuclear power, Gallup found that a majority of the American people (54%) oppose nuclear power. State legislators around the country, in an effort to combat climate change, are passing laws that incentivize the use of renewables, which carry unintended consequences. As a result, several nuclear power plants around the country are facing untimely closure. It is in this environment of uncertainty on the future of nuclear power that the NAYGN chapter of AREVA-TN took a trip to Annapolis, MD for a “State Hill Day” on February 23, 2016.
Collaborating with AREVA’s Government Affairs and Advocacy group, the AREVA TN Chapter and met with 12 Maryland lawmakers. The purpose of the meetings was to reestablish old relationships with lawmakers and their staffers whom the Chapter had met before, register positively in the mind of the new group of lawmakers the Chapter members may meet, understand the position of lawmakers working on renewable energy legislation, offer the Chapter as a resource that the lawmakers can reach out to in the future, get their interest for a follow-up meeting, and [most importantly] gain comfort in interacting with such consequential people.
The main topics of discussion were the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of the State of Maryland and the Clean Power Plan. The Chaoter expressed to the lawmakers that as members of the nuclear community and, by extension, proponents of green technology, AREVA TN view the RPS as favorable. As Maryland plans to increase the renewable percentage from 22% to 25% by 2022, nuclear energy is the most effective means of producing zero carbon. Currently, nuclear power produces more than 80% of Maryland’s clean energy and more than a third of its electricity. As such, the Chapter believes that nuclear power will improve the RPS significantly. Extensive studies have shown that nuclear power life-cycle emissions are less than other renewable resources. With respect to the Clean Power Plan, the Chapter shared with lawmakers their concerns about the accounting and credit of nuclear power toward reaching the goals. The ready availability, reliability, and immense quantity of energy produced from nuclear power plants are undervalued.
Members of NAYGN have a special role in the nuclear industry that other comparable organizations do not, in their respective industries. While other industries spend a great deal of effort and have specialized and concerted efforts to provide greater influence over stake holders through education and other means, the nuclear industry does not. As such, local NAYGN members can fill this gap by collaborating with their respective organization’s government affairs group to understand the issues of their states better. A legislative language does not have to have the phrase “nuclear energy” to impact the industry. Incentivizing other resources adversely impact the economics of nuclear. Over the coming years, the AREVA TN Chapter hopes to continue this ongoing relationship with Maryland’s lawmakers.
Written by: Hiruy Hadgu (Past President, AREVA-TN NAYGN)