In a previous post I covered the partisan split that still exists in public polling over nuclear energy.
“Currently, 39% of Democrats versus 60% of Republicans and 53% of independents favor nuclear energy,” according to the latest Gallup polling on the issue.
But that hasn’t stopped a bipartisan consensus from forming in the federal government around next-generation advanced nuclear energy and the vital role it will play in maintaining a reliable energy mix for a clean energy future.
New nuclear’s momentum: Republicans and Democrats in Congress, as well as the Biden administration, agree that advanced nuclear is integral to maintaining energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially as the legacy nuclear fleet ages and retires.
Congress approved $2.5 billion in funding in the bipartisan infrastructure bill to support the Energy Department’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration program, and the Democrats intend to do more with their reconciliation bill, which would provide technology-neutral clean energy tax credit to generators that could be used for advanced reactors.
If the supposedly gridlocked and polarized Congress can come together in support of one of the only forms of reliable, zero-carbon power, then why can’t the Colorado General Assembly do the same?
It’s certainly not for lack of trying.
An olive branch was extended this past session when Senator Bob Rankin (R.) was joined by House Minority Leader Hugh McKean (R.) in introducing a bill to get the conversation surrounding small-modular reactors (SMRs) started in the state.
Senate Bill 073 would have directed the state to conduct a study investigating the feasibility of using small modular nuclear reactors as a carbon-free energy source for Colorado. Despite strong interest in the technology in areas of the state, and despite a general consensus that nuclear energy will be an indispensable asset for a low-carbon future, the supposedly climate-conscious Democrats in the Senate sent the bill to “kill committee” where it ultimately failed due to partisan resistance.
And while President Biden’s administration continues to take tangible steps to support the nuclear energy industry, Colorado’s chief executive would rather play up unreliable wind and solar power.
From the Denver Gazette:
Conor Cahill, a spokesman for Polis, said energy from wind and solar energy is “more affordable and do not require the decades long planning process that nuclear energy requires.”
The fact is that nuclear energy is about three times as reliable as wind and solar, something state and local governments would be wise to consider as traditional baseload plants continue to be shuttered prematurely. It’s something the nation’s electric utilities are certainly weighing, and they appear to be far more bullish on the prospects of advanced nuclear energy than our Governor.
UTILITIES BETTING BIG ON SMALL MODULAR REACTORS: The new nuclear generating capacity that a group of electric utilities are planning to add through 2050 would amount to a doubling of current U.S. nuclear output, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, a nuclear policy group.
NEI polled the chief nuclear officers at its various member utilities, who together said they have plans to add more than 90 gigawatts of nuclear power to the grid via small modular reactors. Most of that capacity is planned to be online by mid-century, NEI said.
The Environmental Left in Colorado must not have received the memo: any realistic zero-carbon future must include nuclear power.
National leaders in both parties have come to terms with this fact. Colorado Democrats should get on board and start supporting innovations in the technology and exploring ways to make those projects a reality in the Centennial State.
It’s better late than never.