Could Nebraska and Iowa go nuclear as part of shift away from fossil fuels?
As the world shifts away from fossil fuels, Nebraska and Iowa utilities are among those preparing for the possible use of nuclear power to supplement renewable energy.
New technology is being tested that proponents say could make nuclear power plants safer, more flexible and more affordable than traditional nuclear plants. Additionally, state and federal governments are reworking regulations and incentives to encourage the revival of nuclear power.
However, critics say the new technology is unproven and presents fresh risks of cost overruns, nuclear accidents and opportunistic terrorist actions.
Utilities increasingly see transitioning away from fossil fuels as necessary to remain competitive on costs, stay ahead of regulations and address global warming.
“It’s an important thing to do from a business perspective,” said Tom Kent, president and chief executive officer at Nebraska Public Power District. NPPD operates the only active nuclear plant in Nebraska and Iowa. “Carbon has business risks as we look to the future.”
An Associated Press survey of the energy policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia found that a strong majority — about two-thirds — say nuclear, in one fashion or another, will help take the place of fossil fuels. The momentum behind nuclear power could lead to the first expansion of nuclear reactor construction in the U.S. in more than three decades.
Nebraska is among the states engaged on the issue.
“I think you’ll see nuclear — assuming the next generation of nuclear proves affordable,” Kent said. “In terms of future resources, the economics of building new nuclear is part of what we would look at.”
Kent said he anticipates that nuclear will prove itself — or not — within the next 10 years.