Bill Gives Boost to Nuclear as Energy Option

Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) last Wednesday unveiled legislation seeking to promote nuclear power as a viable energy source by making it eligible to receive the same benefits as other zero emissions power generating facilities and spurring utilities to complete unfinished nuclear reactors, among other things.

"One fact which concerns all of the sponsors and supporters of the legislation is that as a nation we haven't built a new nuclear generation facility in this nation since the Carter administration," Graham said. "We believe one way to change that fact is to level the playing field for 'environmentally preferable' power generation."

Graham pointed out that under current law, all zero emissions power generation receives a tax credit from the federal government. "Nuclear energy, the only zero-pollution source of energy, should be eligible for the same benefits as other 'clean' power generation," the lawmaker stated. Graham also said that his bill, the "Electricity Supply Assurance Act of 2001," adds language to encourage utilities to complete unfinished reactors and to increase the performance of existing reactors. In addition, the legislation increases research and development into new nuclear generation plants and seeks to protect the country's ability to mine and manufacture nuclear fuel. Graham's bill is similar, though not identical, to legislation introduced by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM).

Graham's bill drew praise from Mike Tuckman, Duke Power's executive vice-president of nuclear generation. "While we have not yet studied all the bill's provisions in detail, we applaud its goal of ensuring nuclear energy's continued contribution to our electricity supply," Tuckman said. "We are delighted to see that Rep. Graham and other policymakers recognize the important role nuclear energy must play in ensuring the Carolinas, and our nation, have an adequate supply of electricity.". Duke Power is a business unit of Duke Energy.

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