Nuke industry, facing headwinds, launches multimillion-dollar ad campaign

A spokesman said the buy will cost twice the group’s normal annual ad budget but declined to provide a specific estimate. The ads will run in outlets including NBC’s “Meet the Press” and nightly news, Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” “PBS NewsHour,” The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Politico, The Economist, Time magazine, WTOP radio and many others.

“Nuclear energy is a reliable and affordable source of 24/7 electricity that emits no greenhouse gases. Nuclear energy already provides one-fifth of our electricity and new reactors are being built to power future generations. Providing more low-carbon, affordable electricity cannot be achieved without nuclear energy playing a significant role in America’s balanced energy portfolio,” one of the print ads states.

Another asks, “How can we generate more low-carbon electricity that is affordable while creating more American jobs?”

The ads, which will also have an online and social media component, are slated to run through the fall, an NEI spokesman said.

The industry is seeking federal re-licensing of existing plants, and financing and federal licenses for new plants. Recently utility giant Southern Co. won approval from federal regulators to add two new reactors to an existing plant in Georgia, and other approvals are expected to follow.

But despite GOP and federal support — the Obama administration has conditionally approved billions of dollars in loan guarantees for the Georgia project — the push to build new reactors faces a number of hurdles.

Climate change legislation, which would have given a leg up to low-carbon power sources by creating a cost for emitting greenhouse gases, collapsed in the Senate in 2010 and remains on ice.

The U.S. natural-gas drilling boom has helped push prices for the fuel to their lowest levels in a decade.

David Crane, CEO of the power company NRG Energy, told The Wall Street Journal in a story last week that the gas boom “killed off new coal and now it's killing off new nuclear.”

But the ads are aimed at convincing policymakers to take the long view about nuclear power.

“Our goal is to communicate the overriding need to focus on energy and environmental issues that will confront policy leaders in the next decade,” said NEI spokesman Scott Peterson.

The industry is also seeking to reassure the public about nuclear safety following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant that occurred after the disastrous earthquake and tsunami.

“We have not wavered in our commitment to safety at America’s nuclear energy facilities,” Peterson said. “Along with enhancing that safety, now is the time to have the discussion about the need to begin building new reactors to meet growing electricity demand and protect our air quality.”

The ads can be viewed here.