Nuclear becoming passé

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The latest energy policy fad at the General Assembly [Merritt Viewpoint, Jan. 6] is small nuclear units (modular nuclear power). It was coal gasification until Duke Energy’s financial disaster at Edwardsport.

Nuclear power has been equally financially disastrous. Last year, Morningstar (a Wall Street firm) declared the “nuclear renaissance” in the West “dead.”

Despite this, the General Assembly is now embracing modular nuclear units. But, in order for Indiana to deploy modular units, ratepayers and taxpayers will have to assume enormous financial risk. Like Edwardsport, these units have not reached commercialization and their cost and reliability is unknown.

It’s amazing that Indiana policymakers are paying attention to nuclear given current power sector developments.

Electric generation is increasingly decentralized and based primarily on energy efficiency, wind and solar photovoltaics, customer-owned power, demand response, and energy storage investments. Indeed, David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy (an independent power company), questions whether we’ll need an electric grid at all in the future.

Moreover, unlike nuclear power, wind and solar photovoltaics by many estimates will soon not need subsidies.

Grant Smith
senior energy policy analyst, Civil Society Institute; legislative chairman, Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter

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