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Energy companies include nukes in response to growth

Posted May 1, 2008
Updated May 2, 2008

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— The Shearon Harris nuclear power plant could be growing, and engineering students see nuclear power coming back as a career option.

In February, Progress Energy filed applications with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to possibly build two new reactors at the plant. Power company officials said they are trying to keep up with growth in the area.

Progress Energy spokeswoman Kim Crawford said the company adds about 25,000 to 30,000 new customers in the Carolinas every year. She said the company expects to add a half-million new customers by 2026.

Jim Warren heads up the watchdog group N.C. Warn, which aims to reduce hazards that it says nuclear power and other polluting electricity production pose to public health and the environment.

“I think it’s a huge, unnecessary risk financially in terms of safety,” Warren said.

Warren said companies should focus on other energy projects.

“It’s squandering the precious time and money we need to devote to real climate solutions,” Warren said.

With the growth in the area, Crawford said, Progress Energy is going to need energy efficiency, renewables, alternatives and new generating capacity.

Dr. Ayman Hawari, a professor and head of the nuclear reactor program at North Carolina State University, said the nuclear industry is starting to move again. The number of students in the nuclear engineering program has more than tripled in the past six years, he said.

“In order to support the surge, we need the human resource, and we see N.C. State playing a role,” Hawari said.

The talk of building new plants has more students eying careers in the industry.

“It’s an option that maybe 10 years ago wasn’t as clear as it is now for incoming freshmen,” Hawari said.

The major power providers in the state have said three new nuclear reactors are needed to accommodate the growing energy need. In addition to Progress Energy’s possible two reactors, Duke Energy said it needs a new reactor to serve the Charlotte area.


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  • Longshanks May 1, 2008

    I just hate environmental groups who claim to have the public's best interest at heart, then rail against nuclear power (amongst other things). As smitty says, nuclear is far and above our best option for power in this area. The footprint for reactors is already at Shearon Harris, so what's the big deal? Nuclear is clean burning and puts out more power for it's size than any other power source. The only thing I can think of that's cleaner is hydroelectric or wind power, and that ain't happening around here. Put it this way--would you rather have a coal plant or a nuclear plant? I think the trade-off is pretty clear. Warren is just stirring the pot and needs to be ignored. If that happens, then maybe he will go away....

  • whatelseisnew May 1, 2008

    So now some actual leadership needs to happen. Either we get firm process on providing additional power source (and water by the way), or the next Governor needs to set a direction for a maximum number of people to live in North Carolina against the availability of resources. Otherwise, we may very well see a dry falls lake at the next drought and start dealing with power outages as happened out west. And by the way, any expenses that the power company incurs during this process gets passed to us through rate increases regardless of the actual building of any new nuclear plants. another thing we can thank the wonderful Democrats for in this state.

  • smitty May 1, 2008

    I've met Jim Warren, he's a crackpot. Nuclear is by far our best and cleanest option.