The Electrical Worker online
July 2024

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Nuclear's Comeback

Just a few years ago, the future of nuclear looked bleak. Plants were shutting down nationwide, and there was little will in Washington or state capitals to do anything to help save this crucial but struggling industry.

But looking at the energy landscape today, we can see how much things have turned around.

In 2024, nuclear plants are no longer closing. They are opening back up.

As you can read on the cover of this month's Electrical Worker, a shuttered nuclear power plant is going back online for the first time in history.

The recommissioning of the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Michigan is a breakthrough moment for the nuclear industry, which is in the midst of an incredible comeback. Earlier this year, Unit 4 of Plant Vogtle went online, the first new nuclear facility in a generation and the largest producer of clean energy in the nation.

We're also seeing the next generation of nuclear power — small modular reactors, which can be built in areas unsuitable for larger facilities — take the first steps to becoming a reality.

And we're not just building, staffing and refueling these plants. Now we're making the fuel, too. The Centrus facility in Ohio, employing Portsmouth Local 575 members, is producing the first advanced nuclear fuel in the U.S. right now.

The leadership of President Joe Biden and a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers on Capitol Hill and in the states committed to reviving and expanding the nuclear power industry have helped make all this possible.

Lawmakers in states like Illinois, New York and Michigan have adopted legislation that has not only saved their state's nuclear fleets but also provided money for expanding them.

On the federal level, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act have invested billions of dollars in securing America's nuclear power industry.

There is a growing consensus that the U.S. cannot meet its climate or economic goals without nuclear power. It is a reliable and efficient source of clean energy, and its continued operation and expansion are crucial for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ensuring energy security. It also provides stable, high-paying union jobs and contributes significantly to local economies.

Simply, nuclear power is the most efficient and reliable generator of carbon-free energy. Unlike other clean energy sources, nuclear energy is a baseload energy that keeps running regardless of weather.

Through the unwavering dedication of IBEW members in the nuclear industry, we've helped forge a new national commitment to this industry. This is why it is not just important, but it is our civic duty this November to vote and ensure the continued success of the nuclear industry.

Leaders like President Biden, who has made investing in good, union nuclear jobs a priority, play a crucial role in shaping the future of the nuclear power industry. Their support is essential for the industry's revival and expansion, and we need to do our part by supporting them through our votes.

Nuclear is back, but it is on us to keep it moving forward.


Also: Noble: Thank a Lineman Read Noble's Column

Kenneth W. Cooper

Kenneth W. Cooper
International President