New report details impact of nuclear energy in southeastern U.S.

February 20, 2024, 3:46PMNuclear News

A seminal new report by the Southeast Nuclear Advisory Council and E4 Carolinas has identified the significant economic impact of the nuclear industry within the southeastern United States. The report, The Economic Impact of the Nuclear Industry in the Southeast United States, provides a baseline for future research into the crucial role nuclear power plants play in shaping regional economies and facilitating the shift to clean energy.

The details: The study, which was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, was the result of collaboration between industry leaders, educational institutions, and energy nonprofits. It analyzed the regional- and state-level economic impact of the nuclear industry in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

A “fertile crescent” for nuclear, the five-state region generates approximately 37 percent of its electricity from nuclear power plants. The study investigated direct and indirect economic impacts of nuclear plants, suppliers, and other facilities serving the nuclear industry.

According to the report, nuclear power plants in the region have an estimated annual economic impact of $42.9 billion. This corresponds to 152,598 jobs and $13.7 billion in labor income. The study also estimated that future investments in nuclear power plants in the region would yield a two-to-one economic output-to-input ratio.

Better jobs: Building and operating nuclear power plants creates high-paying and long-lasting jobs. On average, the report says, wages in the nuclear industry outpace the regional average by 65.5 percent. These jobs also have a high multiplier effect, meaning nuclear jobs create more jobs elsewhere. The nuclear industry generates $3.7 billion in tax revenue across the five-state region, which contributes to local communities and schools. In addition, it stimulates additional indirect employment within the region.

What they're saying: “This report demonstrates two clear findings: the existing civilian nuclear industry provides a massive economic impact for the southeast region, and by supplying $3.7 billion in tax revenues, is a critical element in overall state and local finances,” said Jeff Merrifield, cochair of the Southeast Nuclear Advisory Council, chair of E4 Carolinas, and a partner at Pillsbury Law. “Additionally, with the largest nuclear workforce in the U.S., the southeastern United States, represented by the five states in the report, will be a vital supplier of jobs and technologies to enable the next generation of advanced nuclear energy technologies,” he added.

“Nuclear energy is experiencing a much-welcomed revival as many states and communities across the nation reevaluate their energy landscapes to address growing energy demand and emission reductions targets,” said Kathryn Huff, the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy. “New nuclear energy projects could bring considerable benefits to host communities in the form of jobs, tax incentives, and air quality, improving overall quality of life.”

The bottom line: The southeast is uniquely positioned to take advantage of emerging nuclear technologies coming down the pipeline, according to the report. It also recommends that states center nuclear energy in their economic development plans. As demand for clean energy increases, the southeastern United States can serve as a vital hub for the global nuclear industry.

"This comprehensive analysis showcases the undeniable benefits that the nuclear energy sector brings to the southeast," Craig Piercy, CEO and Executive Director of the American Nuclear Society said. "This is yet more proof that building and operating nuclear power plants strengthens regional economies, creates high-paying and long-lasting jobs, and generates large amounts of benefits, including tax revenue bases for states, local communities, and schools. It highlights the essential role of nuclear power in our nation's energy future, contributing to both economic growth and the transition to clean energy."

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