Despite the best efforts of anti-nuclear activists, who appear to be stuck on stage one of the Kubler-Ross Model of recognizing that they have suffered a loss, people are working hard to solidify the foundations needed for a sustainable nuclear industry restoration.
At a recent one day conference held in Cincinnati, 100 potential suppliers gathered to find out more about the opportunities associated with Duke Energy and Areva’s plan to build a new nuclear power plant at the Piketon, Ohio site where the Department of Energy operated a large uranium enrichment facility.
As Areva described it, they are not building a plant, but building an industry that can supply all the necessary components, materials, and services needed to support a fleet of plants. Projections currently range as high as 50 units for the EPR, but there is no fixed cap on that number. People who are involved in industries as diverse as drywall, electronic components, and automatic flow control valves can get pretty interested when they read paragraphs like the below in their local business journals:
To do it, Areva will need hundreds of suppliers employing thousands, to provide everything from drywall to pipes, valves and other equipment for each plant. The Columbus meeting is the second of four Areva is holding around the United States to develop supplier interest.
While actually construction of the Piketon project could be years away, Jacques Besnainou, Areva Inc. president, said his company will need suppliers to help with geology surveys and other design details starting next year once the DOE funding is approved.
Areva says each of its next-generation pressurized water reactors will create up to 11,000 direct and supplier jobs during component manufacturing and plant construction. Each of the plants is expected to employ 400 permanently.
“We’re not building a plant, but an industry,” said Tom Silva, an Areva vice president, told the companies at the conference at the Columbus Hyatt Regency Hotel. “We’re interested in a long-term relationship and partnership. We’re looking at purchasing for multiple plants at one time.”
The excitement and interest in such announcements can be especially strong at a time when a routine US Government jobs report computing that the American economy “only” lost 11,000 jobs in a month and the unemployment rate dropped by 0.1 percent to a “mere” 10.1% is reason for a stock market celebration.
As a former small business general manager, I can understand why so many firms from Ohio showed up to hear about potential sales and partnership opportunities. It is most decidedly NOT FUN to struggle to make payroll or to have to make painful decisions to reduce staff at a time when you know that your good people may be unemployed for a very long time if you let them go.
I’ll admit it – I am a cheerleader for reviving what can be a solid base for job growth through producing an important enabling product required in our modern society – clean, reliable, affordable electricity. I hate the term “green” job; what I think we need are “blue” jobs that employ people who are making valuable products that make all other members of the work force more productive.