Letter: Nuclear energy is important to Illinois

On March 31, the American Nuclear Society held a webinar hosted by the University of Illinois-Champaign Nuclear Engineering Department. The discussion included how important nuclear energy is to Illinois.

Illinois ranks No. 7 in clean energy, only ranked below states with big hydro power generation. Some 56% of Illinois’ electricity is from nuclear, which produces 85% of Illinois carbon-free power. The potential closure of the Byron and Dresden reactors would set off a carbon bomb according to James Koteck of the Nuclear Energy Institute.

Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, ANS President, said keeping Illinois, and the nation’s nuclear fleet operating is important, however just as important is transitioning into the next generation nuclear reactors. These reactors are designed with improved passive safety features, industrial heat process capabilities, with potential new nuclear medicine applications, desalination, and electrolysis for hydrogen as well.

State Sen. Sue Rezin has three nuclear plants in her district. She stated that losing $125 million in tax revenues would take 35 years to replace. The highly skilled workforce would be lost and likely leave the state. She has sponsored the Climate Union Jobs Act (CUJA), which among several ideas promotes Carbon Credits. The CUJA along with the Clean Energy Jobs Act, and a third proposal are now being discussed in the legislature.  With only five weeks left in the spring session, there is a lot of work to do in hammering out a bill which would keep Illinois nuclear plants operating, the highly skilled workforce employed, the tax revenue stream intact, and the carbon-free power generation sustained.

Roger Blumquist a  nuclear engineer told his story of reading about the danger of nuclear energy in school, but when he went into the Navy and was in a nuclear submarine he discovered that what he learned was nonsense. There is no safer electrical generators anywhere.

Call, write and email your state representative and state senator. Tell them you want reliable, affordable, clean nuclear energy.

Nicholas  C. Kockler