The nuclear energy industry says it’s in a tight spot.
The culprit is subsidies for renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, says Chris Guith of the Institute for 21st Century Energy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who is in Illinois to speak at the Economic Summit Forecast meeting of the Metals Service Center Institute in Schaumburg.
“If, as a matter of public policy, either the state of Illinois or the United States says that deploying more renewables is important to us, then that makes complete sense, and to some extent that’s what’s happened. But if you take a step back and think about why we are promoting renewables, it’s primarily because they’re emissions-free. And nuclear is also emissions-free,” he said in an interview.
But David Kraft of the Nuclear Energy Information Service, which warns of the dangers of nuclear power, says nuclear does pollute. “Not only do the renewables not have a smokestack, but they also don’t create 6,000 generations of high-level radioactive waste which have to be kept out of the environment. You can hardly consider that a clean energy source,” he said.
Kraft also says the nuclear power industry is gets 30 subsidies of one form or another, and it was the industry that asked for deregulation. Illinois has 11 nuclear power plants, 10¼ of which are owned by Exelon, the parent company of Com Ed.