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My Turn: Nuclear must be part of our energy mix

  • Editorial review board with mayor Jim Bouley; Thursday, October 20, 2011. <br/><br/>(Alexander Cohn/ Monitor Staff)

    Editorial review board with mayor Jim Bouley; Thursday, October 20, 2011.

    (Alexander Cohn/ Monitor Staff)

  • FILE-In this May 3, 2011, file photo, the Seabrook nuclear power plant in Seabrook, N.H.  is seen. Vermont's second largest electric utility has reached a tentative deal to buy power from the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire for 23 years, officials from Green Mountain Power announced Tuesday, May 24, 2011. The fixed-price contract that, if approved by the Public Service Board, would begin in 2015, Initially it would be for 60 megawatts of power, decreasing to 40 megawatts.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

    FILE-In this May 3, 2011, file photo, the Seabrook nuclear power plant in Seabrook, N.H. is seen. Vermont's second largest electric utility has reached a tentative deal to buy power from the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire for 23 years, officials from Green Mountain Power announced Tuesday, May 24, 2011. The fixed-price contract that, if approved by the Public Service Board, would begin in 2015, Initially it would be for 60 megawatts of power, decreasing to 40 megawatts. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

  • Editorial review board with mayor Jim Bouley; Thursday, October 20, 2011. <br/><br/>(Alexander Cohn/ Monitor Staff)
  • FILE-In this May 3, 2011, file photo, the Seabrook nuclear power plant in Seabrook, N.H.  is seen. Vermont's second largest electric utility has reached a tentative deal to buy power from the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire for 23 years, officials from Green Mountain Power announced Tuesday, May 24, 2011. The fixed-price contract that, if approved by the Public Service Board, would begin in 2015, Initially it would be for 60 megawatts of power, decreasing to 40 megawatts.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

July’s stretch of blistering heat and humidity serves as a reminder that we live in a world with limits on our energy supply. As we tried to keep ourselves cool during a six-day stretch of 90-plus degree weather, we hit record levels of electricity use in New Hampshire.

Our state’s electricity plants were stretched to the limits of capacity. The New England region set a one-day usage record last week, and we flirted with records the rest of the week.

That type of demand requires our power supply companies to go full throttle on its electricity generators. Everything revs up, and all plants come online. That type of demand also raises the risk that if one thing goes wrong, the results can be catastrophic. Remember New York City in 2003? One link in our power chain broke, and millions lost power on a hot summer night in the northeast. Outages stretched into multiple states.

Our power grid is connected regionally to ensure that when demand rises, supply can match it. But what makes it strong is also its greatest weakness, especially when demand skyrockets.

As a mayor, I believe we need a smart dialogue about the future of our energy needs. Affordability is important, but reliability is absolutely essential. We have an ongoing discussion about hydropower coming from Canada via Northern Pass. But that’s only one piece of a bigger conversation.

For example, Seabrook Station, a nuclear energy facility, provides roughly one-third of the state’s electricity. No one talks about that today, but Seabrook is doing what the experts said it would do years ago. Nuclear energy, once a highly controversial subject and the focus of many protests and political debates, now provides 20 percent of our nation’s power.

I make this point about nuclear energy for two reasons: It’s already here in our own backyard; therefore it must remain a topic of our region’s energy discussion. We must continue to take responsible steps to ensure it’s part of our energy debate.

Demand for energy is rising, even outside of our peak summer temperatures. According to reports, our nation’s electricity needs will grow 22 percent in about 20 years.

There are other reasons to make sure nuclear energy remains an option. Look at the economics beyond providing power to our state: Seabrook’s facility employs hundreds of people. Jobs at U.S. nuclear energy facilities today pay 36 percent more than the average salaries in the local area. In addition, the plant’s owner pays millions in tax revenue and to the state and local communities.

Furthermore, this technology helps avoid local emissions from older, fossil fuel plants. That’s important because despite our state’s efforts to clear the air, we can’t control pollution levels alone. New Hampshire is downwind from Midwestern power plants whose pollution drifts and settles over us. Several of our counties have been designated as areas of “non-attainment” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This means pollution levels consistently exceed national air quality standards, even though we aren’t contributing to it.

New Hampshire’s older power plants are equipped with the latest emission reduction controls. That’s important. We get our power without so many harmful side effects of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide belching from local smoke stacks. But outside forces still dirty our air. Environmental impacts are an important factor in our energy debate, and we have to be aware of what we are all doing as we demand more power.

This is a conversation that starts locally, but just as the electricity grid is connected to the region and the rest of the nation; it is a dialogue that must include everyone. We can’t overlook what is working right now.

The bottom line is this: In order to meet future electricity demands, the U.S. will need to embrace a broad portfolio of American-produced energy solutions, and nuclear energy must be a part of the mix.

(Concord Mayor Jim Bouley is a member of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, a nonpartisan, national group that supports nuclear energy as part of the nation’s electricity supply.)

Legacy Comments15

The biggest threat to our nuclear power industry is the abundance of cheap and abundant natural gas. It can't compete with gas powered reactors in cost or life expectancy of said plants. The owners of Vermont Yankee have already put several nukes into early retirement because of natural gas. google it.

So let's skip the discussion of safety, cost and storage... for now. When the Mayor wrote this piece was he speaking as the mayor, a lobbyist or an individual? Regardless of which hat he was wearing, how does he separate his roles as the mayor and a lobbyist. And even if I take the Monitor at its word, that they added the title of Mayor to identify this Jim Bouley, in the article Bouley states the following: "As a mayor, I believe we need a smart dialogue about the future of our energy needs." When the city got rid of Quinn and voted for a weak mayor and a city manager they also took away the ability of the mayor (or any councilor) to speak for the city without the full consent of the council. If the mayor wishes to represent the city through his comments, then he has two option. He can ask the council for their approval or he can suggest a change to the city charter and return the city to a strong mayor form of government with a city administrator - Allan Herschlag

What did I miss? When and where did the Monitor give “its word that they added the title of Mayor to identify this Jim Bouley”?

Common_Grind, I spoke with the Monitor editor and asked her why Bouley was identified in an opinion piece, that to my knowledge was not a position the city council has endorsed. She replied that they added the title of mayor as a way to positively identify Jim Bouley. My concern as I stated is that Bouley identifies himself as the mayor in the op-ed piece and believes it is his role as our mayor to lead us towards the expansion of nuclear power. Our mayor / manager form of government does not allow for the mayor (or any councilor) to speak about policy without the full consent of the city council - Allan Herschlag

36 nations are just years away from introducing the newest reactor - ITER is a fusion NOT fission reactor - if you dont know what that means to the world of energy you need to look it up

Please read this book: "Radiation and Reason, The impact of Science on a culture of fear" by Wade Allison. [The Wade Allison in England, not the other Wade Allison at Harvard.] http://www.radiationandreason.com/ Professor Allison says we can take up to 10 rems per month, a little more than 1000 times the present "legal" limit. The old limit was 5 rems/lifetime. A single dose of 800 rems could kill you, but if you have time to recover between doses of 10 rems, no problem. It is like donating blood: You see "4 gallon donor" stickers on cars. You know they didn't give 4 gallons all at once. There is a threshold just over 10 rems. You are getting .35 rems/year NATURAL background radiation right where you are right now. Divide 5 rems by your present Natural Background Radiation. For Americans, Natural Background Radiation is at least .35 rems/year. Our Natural Background Radiation uses up our 5 rems/lifetime when we are 14 years old. Natural Background Radiation is radiation that was always there, 1000 years ago, a million years ago, etc. Natural Background Radiation comes from the rocks in the ground and from exploding stars thousands of light years away. All rocks contain uranium. Radon gas is a decay product of uranium. 1rem = .01 sievert = 10 millisievert

ZERO PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM FUKUSHIMA RADIATION. http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/08/fear-of-radiation-has-killed-761-and.html "Fear of Radiation (unnecessarily hasty evacuation and other measures) has killed 761 and radiation has killed none from Fukushima" 573 certified deaths were due to evacuation-related stress at Fukushima. Zero due to radiation. February 4, 2012
http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2012/2/4/japanese-authorities-recognize-573-deaths-related-to-fukushi.html ZERO PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM 3 Mile Island RADIATION. Fewer than 100 died from Chernobyl radiation. The Chernobyl reactor was a primitive Generation One machine without a containment building. American reactors have containment buildings that can contain any accident. Source: private communication from Oak Ridge National Lab. A nuclear power plant can not explode like a nuclear bomb. A reactor is nothing like a bomb. I would have to tell you how to make a bomb and how to make a reactor to explain why. The reactor at Chernobyl did not explode like a nuclear bomb because that is not possible. My degree: physics. My experience with nuclear bombs. In the 1960s we recycled spent nuclear fuel. See "Plentiful Energy, The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor" by Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang, 2011. Also see: http://bravenewclimate.com/2013/08/01/nuclear-waste-series-p4/ We get 99.9% of our radiation from natural sources, called Natural Background Radiation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_background_radiation The total radiation in Fukushima is less than our Natural Background. http://www.nature.com/news/fukushima-s-doses-tallied-1.10686

Mayor, Glad to hear you are thinking forward on our energy needs. However, it takes a long time to plan, permits, build, maintain (and all the waste and graft those has usually gone into those processes) to get a fission plant built and working. If we are looking out approx a decade - have you planning boards consider a methane hydrate plant. Along those lines - seems every time there is a public announcement that a plant or power plant accessory is planned -the price goes up 3-4 time between announcement and the unit being online. Have your team write better taxpayer protecting contracts, than we seen in the past.

blame the democrats on America's inability to produce abundant power

"The gap between nuclear rhetoric and nuclear reality has been a fundamental impediment to wise energy policy decisions for half a century now," writes former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford in the foreword to the just released "World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013," released last month. ""For various reasons in many nations, the nuclear industry cannot tell the truth about its progress, its promise or its perils. Its backers in government and in academia do no better." For a nuclear reality check and alternative to the industry's P/R, read the report at: http://www.worldnuclearreport.org/IMG/pdf/20130716msc-worldnuclearreport2013-lr-v4.pdf.

The overall morbidity and mortality of nuclear generated electricity on a per kilowatt generated basis is far less than any other technology, including wind and solar.

That's true, but nuclear is unique in that it has the potential to create a catastrophe. I'm sure you're familiar with those that have occurred. As you probably know, there have been deaths related to nuclear, although that number is relatively small. I'm sure you know there are other issues about nuclear that still need solutions. There always will be.

ZERO PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM FUKUSHIMA RADIATION. http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/08/fear-of-radiation-has-killed-761-and.html "Fear of Radiation (unnecessarily hasty evacuation and other measures) has killed 761 and radiation has killed none from Fukushima" 573 certified deaths were due to evacuation-related stress at Fukushima. Zero due to radiation. February 4, 2012
http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2012/2/4/japanese-authorities-recognize-573-deaths-related-to-fukushi.html ZERO PEOPLE HAVE DIED FROM 3 Mile Island RADIATION. Fewer than 100 died from Chernobyl radiation. The Chernobyl reactor was a primitive Generation One machine without a containment building. American reactors have containment buildings that can contain any accident. A nuclear power plant can not explode like a nuclear bomb. A reactor is nothing like a bomb. I would have to tell you how to make a bomb and how to make a reactor to explain why. The reactor at Chernobyl did not explode like a nuclear bomb because that is not possible. In the 1960s we recycled spent nuclear fuel. See "Plentiful Energy, The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor" by Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang, 2011. Also see: http://bravenewclimate.com/2013/08/01/nuclear-waste-series-p4/ We get 99.9% of our radiation from natural sources, called Natural Background Radiation. The total radiation in Fukushima is less than our Natural Background.

"According to reports"? - which reports? No doubt, those sponsored by the industry they are promoting. There are other studies that say just the opposite. Even if everything goes right and nothing ever goes wrong - which is never the case - there is still the problem of what to do with the staggering amount of radioactive waste that stays deadly to humans for thousands of years - and how to safely and securely transport it. When asked about nuclear power, Einstein replied, "It's a he** of a way to boil water." - which is how the power is generated - steam powered turbines. Where is the solar tech? We need to look ahead - not back.

I doubt many people will agree with you. When just a single accident at Seabrook could render our entire State an uninhabitable, radioactive wasteland for several thousand years, nuclear energy remains a top priority among things our society needs to eliminate from our world. Russia didn't think it could happen. Japan didn't think it could happen. But it did both times. You are naive if you think it can't happen here too. The potential harm caused by an accident is staggering, both for the size of area it can destroy and the number of millennia the problem lasts for.

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