Economists at a global consulting firm, The Brattle Group recently came out with a new report focused on the nuclear power sector in the United States. This report was prepared for Nuclear Matters, a company whose mission is to inform the public about the clear benefits that nuclear energy provides to our nation.
The Brattle Group concluded that the industry adds $60 billion annually to the country’s gross domestic product, including $103 billion annually in gross output and accounts for 475,000 full time jobs.
The report also finds that nuclear energy:
• Helps keep electricity prices low – without it, retail electricity rates could increase by about 6 percent on average. Keeping electricity prices low is the primary means by which nuclear power boosts the economy.
• Provides $9.9 billion in federal revenues and $2.2 billion in state tax revenues annually.
• Avoids 650,000 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOX) and over one million tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions annually, avoiding $8.4 billion in total costs for the two pollutants, according to the National Academy of Science’s cost estimates.
Without U.S. nuclear power, the report says, 573 million tons of carbon dioxide would be added to the Earth’s atmosphere. The value of that contribution is about $25 billion, the Brattle Group estimated.
Currently there are 62 operating nuclear power plants in the country, comprising 99 reactors in the United States, representing over 100,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity and almost 800 million megawatt hours of annual generation, according to the report. The industry provides approximately 9 percent of U.S. generating capacity, while providing 19 percent of the country’s total electricity generation.
The report says without nuclear power, demand for electricity generation would invariably be met by natural gas-fired power plants, which would increase from 26 percent to 39 percent of the total U.S. energy mix, using 2015 figures. “Large-scale renewable energy would probably not be significantly different; intermittent renewable generation alone is not a direct substitute for the baseload profile of nuclear,” the Brattle Group said.