Keeping the Lights on at America's Nuclear Power Plants

Keeping the Lights on at America's Nuclear Power Plants

Authors: Jeremy Carl, David Fedor
ISBN: 978-0-8179-2095-1
Publication Date: 8/1/2017

In Keeping the Lights on at America’s Nuclear Power Plants, Jeremy Carl and David Fedor discuss American nuclear power plant closures in light of major economic and policy challenges. They show how cheap natural gas, electricity market flaws, and a failure to capture the public imagination threaten America’s near- and long-term nuclear viability. American nuclear power plants are closing at a historically unprecedented pace, offering just a short window for the development of public or political will to stop the bleeding.

Recognizing the nuclear industry’s dilemmas, the authors argue that nuclear energy is widely misunderstood. They discuss how many of the nuclear industry's benefits are not well captured by today's deregulated electricity markets or local ratepayers and survey how to keep nuclear a part of the new national conversation about America’s energy future—a conversation that does not always include nuclear.

For all these challenges, the authors argue that permanently opting out of the nuclear enterprise would be a mistake. Making the case for continued nuclear investment, they show how keeping the lights on at America’s nuclear plants can bolster American technology leadership, security, and commitment to curbing pollution and carbon emissions. They offer a menu of policy options designed to spur meaningful action at state and federal levels, change the industry’s status quo, and reintroduce nuclear to America’s energy conversation.

Admiral James O. Ellis Jr., USN (ret.) and George P. Shultz offer a foreword to the book that discusses nuclear power's speial role in American—and global—energy security.

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David Fedor

David Fedor is a research analyst on the Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. He has worked in energy and the environment across China, Japan, and the United States. Formerly at the Asia Pacific Energy Research Center and Stanford’s Collaboratory for Research on Global Projects, Fedor has also consulted for WWF China, the Asian Development Bank, and the Korea Energy Economics Institute. He holds degrees in earth systems from Stanford University.


Jeremy Carl

Jeremy Carl is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources and a research Fellow with the Program on Energy and Sustainable Development at Stanford University.

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Review: Commentary Magazine - July 27, 2017
The whole monograph is worth reading… Keeping the Lights On should be on the reading list of any serious executive or legislative branch energy-issue policymaker, and the journalists who cover them.
Review by: Burton Richter, Stanford Professor and Director Emeritus of SLAC - July 25, 2017
An outstanding study on why nuclear electricity is important and how to keep it going in today’s crazy quilt of subsidies.
Review by: Admiral James O. Ellis, USN (ret.), Hoover Institution Distinguished Fellow - July 25, 2017
As Benjamin Franklin said: 'You may delay. Time will not.' During this unexpected period of energy abundance, it is important to carefully and collaboratively create a deliberate U.S. energy strategy and fully understand what role nuclear power could or should play in it. The character and tone of the discussion and debate must be worthy of the gravity of the issue. Jeremy Carl and David Fedor’s clear explanation of the value proposition of today’s nuclear plants—and ideas for how to address the challenges—is a remarkable and long-overdue guide towards that end.
Review by: John J. Hamre, CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies - July 18, 2017
Retaining America’s leading role in commercial nuclear energy is vital to our national security. Our leading position as a nuclear power generator allows us to also lead in shaping the non-proliferation order that protects our security. This book serves as a useful guide to various policy options facing today's civilian nuclear enterprise.
Review by: Peter B. Lyons, former US Assistant Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Energy - July 18, 2017
Building on work at Stanford University, the authors discuss the immense benefits that the United States realizes from its current world leadership in nuclear energy and related technologies, and paint a grim picture of the impending loss of that position through failure to reform today’s electricity markets. A comprehensive set of reform options at the industry, state, and federal levels are presented.
Table of Contents


Diagnosing the Situation Today
Policy and Regulatory Options
- State Regulators—Compensating Nuclear Plant Benefits
- State Regulators—Internalizing Other Costs
- State Legislators—Compensating Nuclear Plant Benefits
- State Legislators—Internalizing Other Costs
- Regional Grid Operators
- Federal Agencies
- Congress
Improving Nuclear’s Value
- Owners & Operators
Appendix A: US Civilian Nuclear Power Reactors
Appendix B: Recent Nuclear Plant Closures
Recommendations for Policymakers
Nuclear Power, Washington Politics, and Climate Math
License Extensions
New Nuclear vs. Existing Nuclear
Production Tax Credits So Far
Looking Ahead to Policies for New Nuclear Technologies

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