The Ethan Allen Institute has joined the nuclear industry chorus in proclaiming a renaissance for nuclear power in America. This time, the hype involves small modular reactors, which only exist as blueprints.

Twenty some years ago, the nuclear industry and its supporters also proclaimed a nuclear renaissance. Cheap power was on the way for the United States. Massive subsidies, loan guarantees and upfront money from utility ratepayers were put in place to pave the way for ambitious construction programs. Today, not one watt of electricity has been generated as a result of more than 20 years of massively expensive construction programs.

Since the last nuclear revival began in the U.S., there are two reactors under construction. For all the talk and money, only two reactors are being built. The unfinished reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia are years behind schedule and way over budget. The reactors are now projected to cost $35 billion. In South Carolina, two reactors at the VA Summer site were canceled after the utility and its customers spent nearly $9 billion dollars trying to build next-generation nuclear power plants. Some executives from the utilities that were building the ill-fated power plants are serving prison time for their role in defrauding the public. So much for that renaissance.

So, when we hear of advanced, cost effective, problem-solving, nuclear power on the way, it is important that we learn from recent experience with the technology. Nuclear power is not cheap. Nuclear power is not clean. The nuclear industry is rife with corruption. Nuclear power blueprints and construction are no guarantee the public will ever see a benefit.

Chris Williams


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