Manchin: Nuclear Gets The Job Done 24/7

Manchin highlights nuclear’s role in providing reliable, affordable power, reducing global carbon emissions, and addressing climate change

March 25, 2021

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to examine the latest developments in the nuclear energy sector. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, highlighted the importance of maintaining the United States’ position as a global leader in nuclear energy.

“Nuclear power provides about 10 percent of the world’s electricity and prevents approximately two gigatons of carbon from reaching our atmosphere every year. But about 789 million people around the world still live without electricity. Nuclear energy can be part of delivering that electricity to lift people out of poverty and provide the opportunities that many have become accustomed to. The Tennessee Valley Authority was created to do that very thing during the Great Depression. This is a model that can inform our efforts both domestically and abroad. Russia and China have made a strategic effort to supplant our nuclear leadership over recent years. We must push back. With the necessary policy and funding we can maintain our nuclear supply chain, create high-paying manufacturing jobs, and reassert that U.S. leadership,” Chairman Manchin said.

Chairman Manchin also highlighted how important nuclear energy is in providing reliable, affordable power, reducing global carbon emissions, and addressing climate change. Chairman Manchin then raised concerns about the decreasing size of our domestic nuclear power plant fleet and the recent increase in plant closures.

“Without new construction or the preservation of the existing nuclear fleet in the U.S., achieving a sustainable energy system will be more challenging and expensive... Every year in the U.S., nuclear-generated electricity prevents more than 506 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere. If we are serious about meeting our climate goals without sacrificing reliability, we must protect our existing fleet. Why then is the U.S. fleet decreasing and why are we taking them offline?” Chairman Manchin asked.

“In my view, in the organized markets, we don’t recognize the full value that a nuclear plant brings. We have short term focused energy markets and a very short term three-year focused capacity market that doesn’t recognize that nuclear plants can operate for decades at 98% reliability. The markets just don’t recognize the full value. In order to correct that, it’s going to take action. Nuclear adds tremendous economic impact to the communities where they exist,” said Mr. Jeffrey J. Lyash, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tennessee Valley Authority.

“The issue has become that as the United States has appropriately deregulated the markets, we’re facing a market design failure. It’s a market design that doesn’t value the number one attribute that nuclear power gives: 24/7 baseload, emissions-free [energy] generation. That has a tremendous value, which nuclear operators are not compensated for in the market place. As a result, we’ve seen good operating plants producing power at very low costs shut down not in the TVA region but in the Midwest region when they were in a perfect condition to continue to operate. It’s really an issue that I hope Congress can work with the states to resolve,” said Mr. J. Clay Sell, Chief Executive Officer, X-energy.

“We’ve got to now find out every nuclear plant that’s on the chopping block and make the CEOs of those companies come here and tell us why they’re taking offline something that should never have been taken offline or even considered taken offline, and why we can’t make sure they can operate. We can do that, that’s our job here in Congress, for the sake of our country” said Chairman Manchin.

The hearing featured witnesses from the Tennessee Valley Authority, TerraPower, Uranium Producers of America, Uranium Energy Corporation, Atlantic Council’s Nuclear Energy and National Security Coalition, Hogan Lovells, and X-energy. To read their testimony click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.