The extreme cold weather we had recently has demonstrated the vulnerability of our electrical grid to an ever-increasing reliance on natural gas to produce our electricity. While all 99 nuclear reactors produced electricity reliably, natural gas in the east could not keep up with the demand for both electricity and heating. Prices for natural gas spiked, as demand exceeded supply. Once again, this has shown the importance of nuclear power for grid resiliency. The secretary of the Department of Energy has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to increase the rates of return on nuclear and coal power generation in order to protect the resiliency of the grid and as a hedge against the spiking of natural gas prices that will drive up the cost of electricity to consumers during these extreme conditions. The companies representing the gas industry have opposed this recommendation because they want all the benefits of price gouging the customers.
In addition, the nuclear plants don’t emit carbon dioxide when they are operating, which is over 90 percent of the time. They also provide high-paying jobs for the communities where they are located. Pennsylvania gets 37 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, so now is the time to save these reactors and not just adopt what seems like the cheaper solution of going almost totally to natural gas electricity, even though they still emit substantial gases that cause global warming. If we would just tax the emissions at a reasonable rate, then nuclear power could compete without FERC action.
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Edward Klevans, State College