On Sunday, February 21, I gathered a group of well experienced nuclear professionals to talk about the impact of President Obama’s February 16, 2010 speech announcing loan guarantees for Southern Company to build two additional units at its Vogtle Nuclear Station.
Margaret Harding, Kelly Taylor, John Wheeler from This Week in Nuclear, Dan Yurman from Idaho Samizdat and I talked for about an hour about our cautious optimism. The optimism is hard to overcome; the caution comes from the understanding that there is a lot of hard work left to do.
Between us, we have more than 100 years of professional experience with the technology; none of us believe that it is easy or “cheap”. We do believe that it is far better than all other competitors and that it is less expensive – if done correctly – than any other alternative when all costs are considered.
We also talked about the potential of smaller nuclear power plants to overcome some of the well known limitations of the “extra-large” plants that some utility companies and established nuclear plant vendors believe are the only way to make the technology “economical”. That view is a fallacy, perhaps engendered by the fact that large companies have to do large things in order to move the needle. They like instilling the belief that only large organizations can move forward with nuclear energy – even if they move with the agility of dinosaurs.