Four new nuclear plants planned in Florida alone would bring 29,300 jobs, with wages estimated at $2.8 billion, according to the study by Oxford Economics.
With the heavy loss of jobs in the current downturn, nuclear power is one of the few bright spots in the economy. Reactor designers and manufacturers are expanding their facilities as well as their payrolls in anticipation of new business. Nuclear job growth has already begun in North Carolina, Tennessee and Pennsylvania and is expected to spread to other states, mainly in the Southeast.
So far utilities have filed for licenses to build up to 26 nuclear plants, calculating they will need to be the cornerstone of efforts to achieve energy independence and to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
Ultimately, the study forecasts construction of 52 new reactors, one new spent-fuel recycling facility and four uranium enrichment plants, resulting in total economic benefits of $61.5 billion. The new nuclear plants are expected to save $49 billion in imported oil and natural gas, while avoiding the atmospheric emission of 400 million tons of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas linked to climate change.
Judging by public opinion polls, there are indications that Americans are awakening to the multiple benefits from nuclear power's revival well-paid jobs, economic growth, energy independence and a cleaner environment. Seventy-four percent of Americans now favor the use of nuclear power, up from 63 percent in April, according to a poll by Bisconti Research, Inc. Nearly 70 percent agree that the United States "should definitely build new nuclear power plants in the future."
According to the jobs study, 268,000 jobs nationally would be created during the reactor construction period, with an additional 136,000 jobs during construction of the recycling and uranium enrichment facilities. Operation of the new reactors and fuel facilities would bring another 96,000 jobs.
"These are high-tech, high-value-added jobs that reflect high spending on research and development and fixed investment: jobs that the U.S. economy can ill afford to lose," the study says.
Florida ranks among the top beneficiaries from the construction of new nuclear power plants. The number of jobs created would be greater in only three other states South Carolina, Texas and Illinois. South Carolina is expected to be the site of a nuclear recycling facility.
At the heart of the nuclear renaissance is an unprecedented challenge. The U.S. electricity industry must invest up to $2 trillion in new power generation and transmission systems to meet an expected 25 percent increase in power demand by 2030. And it must achieve this while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Nuclear power accounts for 72 percent of the carbon-free energy produced in the United States, and it's a clean energy source that must play a major role in meeting our energy needs.