Nuclear power gives Illinois more than just energy

Thomas Leffler’s column, published Aug. 31, about the importance of nuclear energy makes a number of sound points regarding nuclear’s role in domestic electricity production.

But here in Illinois, the story is even more compelling. This is the birthplace of nuclear energy. We are the largest producer of nuclear power in the nation, with six active generating stations accounting for nearly half of the electricity produced here. And with the pending closure of antiquated coal-fired plants in Chicago, that proportion will rise.

Since nuclear power came on the scene the industry has engaged in massive continued investment in improving the productivity, safety and reliability. Even with the most recent investments as a result of lessons learned at Fukushima and the huge post-9/11 security upgrades, nuclear is still one of the lowest cost ways to generate power.

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llinois has a reliable and highly competitive electricity market. We do not face the brownouts or power interruptions that other states endure, and our cost per kilowatt is lower than the national average. This is a competitive advantage in seeking to attract major technology centers. The IT industry uses huge amounts of power and simply can’t afford premium prices or an unreliable source.

Nuclear also provides for thousands of very high-paying and highly skilled jobs in Illinois. The state’s nuclear fleet generates billions in economic impact every year.

The University is home to a renowned nuclear physics program and, along with Argonne and Fermi National Laboratories, helps make Illinois a center of progress and innovation in making nuclear safer and more cost effective.

The Illinois Clean Energy Coalition advocates our society’s continued progress towards generating electricity without producing carbon emissions, while ensuring that energy remains cost effective to power our economic future. In pursuing this balance, we believe that Illinois’s nuclear fleet is a tremendous asset.

*Douglas O’Brien,*

executive director of Illinois Clean Energy Coalition