By Shanna Bobbins
It only took one week learning about nuclear science in my high school chemistry course to know I wanted a career in nuclear power. I was amazed to discover that such a small nuclear reaction could lead to enormous amounts of energy and generate electricity on a commercial scale. In the weeks following our nuclear science unit, I continued to explore the topic on my own, and that is when I learned about the numerous impacts nuclear energy has on communities and the environment, that goes well beyond producing power.
In the United States, markets don’t properly value nuclear energy for some of their most important benefits – they are carbon-free, resilient and secure. As a result, many plants are at risk of closing, especially in my home state of Pennsylvania. Residents need to understand that these plants add so much more value to their local and state communities than just large megawatt outputs. In Pennsylvania alone, nuclear represents over 40 percent of the total electricity generated and an overwhelming 93 percent of the carbon-free energy available. It supports thousands of jobs in my state, and provides tremendous economic value that we cannot afford to lose.
Advocacy for nuclear energy is more important now than ever because nuclear needs real, strong voices representing it in the difficult fight for preservation. I advocate for nuclear power because I’m proud to work at a facility that generates the most reliable and clean energy, and I believe too many people are indifferent to nuclear’s survival. Not enough people know all the benefits that nuclear power brings to the table, and, more importantly, what we would lose as a result of premature nuclear power plant closures. For perspective, nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania prevent 37 million tons of CO2, the equivalent of taking 8 million cars off the road. I want to be a part of the movement that reduces our carbon footprint – and nuclear energy is key to achieving this.
I’ve read a few anti-nuclear power articles lately that say it’s time to close these “old plants,” but I think that premise alone is one of the things that makes nuclear energy so unique. Some of these plants were built more than 40 years ago, but they are still operating at the highest level and could continue to do so for another 40 years, if they don’t close. This just goes to show how well maintained, efficient, and safe our nuclear power facilities really are. They are resilient and strong, just like their employees. This was proven when South Texas Project remained online during Hurricane Harvey and when New England was saved from brownouts when the polar vortex struck. At times when the sun is not shining and wind is not blowing, nuclear energy is there to support the grid, but if these plants close we are left with carbon-emitting sources. That’s not what I want for my friends, family, or fellow Pennsylvanians.
It’s disheartening to think we could close nuclear power plants because not enough people know the real impact of their loss. I want to fight to preserve our largest and most reliable source of clean energy. By getting involved in Exelon’s employee advocacy program, Generation Nation, I have gained the confidence to go out into my community and share why I choose to support nuclear power. This program and coalitions like Nuclear Matters, Nuclear Powers Pennsylvania and Clean Jobs for Pennsylvania ensure I receive the important policy updates and other industry news, so I am always well-informed. Nuclear energy is so much more than just power plants – it represents a community of hard workers and forward-thinking technology. I’m an advocate for nuclear energy, and I encourage you to be one too.
Shanna Bobbins is a system engineer at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and a proud advocate for nuclear energy.