CEO: Nuke power goal not realistic

The Republican push to build 100 new nuclear power plants in 20 years is not a realistic goal, according to the chairman and CEO of a major electric utility.

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Jim Miller, the head of PPL Corp. of Allentown, Pa., said that although the target was admirable, “It’s hard for me to see how that number of plants could be accomplished.”

As part of their effort, Republicans would seek to speed up the process by which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves new plants. Even so, Miller said, it would be difficult for enough utilities to attract the capital necessary to build new plants at the pace Republicans want. Even if the money could be found, Miller says the global manufacturing capabilities — both in terms of component parts and skilled labor — cannot now support nuclear plant construction on that scale.

Republicans offered their plan in response to the House Democrat-crafted climate change legislation, which would cap carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. The GOP thinks the Democratic bill would hurt the economy.

Still, Miller did say Congress needed to provide more incentives for companies to build nuclear plants by increasing the amount of loan money backed by the federal government.