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Showing posts from July, 2005

The NEI Clip File

Here are some of the news clips we're reading at NEI today.

The energy bill is the first thing on everyone's mind, with the Senate approving the legislation by a vote of 74-26:

The Senate action a day after the bill breezed through the House completed the first major overhaul of the nation's energy policies in 13 years. The White House said in advance of passage that Bush looked forward to signing it into law, possibly next week.

...The bill provides $14.5 billion in tax breaks and potentially billions more in loan guarantees and other subsidies to encourage oil and gas drilling, improve natural gas and electric transmission lines, build new nuclear power reactors and expand renewable energy sources, especially construction of wind turbines.

Its cost, put at $12.3 billion after revenue offsets, is nearly twice the $6.7 billion price tag the White House had sought.

...The bill's cost was overridden by its widespread political support, in part because it includes something fo…

Energy Bill to the Senate Floor

Roll call vote scheduled for 10:45 a.m. More later . . .

UPDATE: C-Span 2 is carrying the vote. Click here for Real Media, or here for Windows Media. For more detail on H.R. 6, click here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Plenty of us are packed into conference rooms or watching on our computers waiting for history to be made. More soon . . .

REAL-TIME UPDATE, 11:45 a.m. EST: Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) has raised a budget point of order -- a procedural move designed to stop the bill before a final vote. Next, the Senate will vote to waive the point of order, with 60 votes required to move to a final roll call vote. Our folks in Government Affairs anticipate that we'll get those 60 votes, and move to a final roll call vote in the next hour. Stay tuned.

REAL-TIME UPDATE, 12:53 p.m. EST: The Senate has voted 71-29 to waive the budget point of order and is now voting on passage of the Energy Bill Conference Report. We'll post the final count right here.

UPDATE: The Senate voted 74-26 to pa…

Another Blogger For Nuclear Energy

In Scotland, blogger Neil Craig has decided to point out some hard energy truths to the editors of his local newspaper, the West End Mail:
Your 13th July edition contained an item about a lobby group, the Sustainable Energy Partnership, approving our local MP's support of micro-generation (essentially covering our rooftops with windmills).

55% of Scotland's electricity is provided by 2 nuclear plants, the more extensive of which, Hunterston, is to close in 2011.

Windmills only provide 0.3% of our power & micro-generation , as the name suggests, can do only a small fraction of even that. This is not a serious solution.

Nuclear is reliable, non-polluting, CO2 free & at 2.3p per unit (or less for new reactors) easily the most economical power source.

According to Help the Aged figures 24,000 pensioners die each year in the UK from fuel poverty.

If we do not replace our current nuclear plants with at least equal capacity we are going to have massive blackouts & even more dea…

The NEI Afternoon Clip File

Here are some of the news clips we're reading at NEI this afternoon.

Of course, the energy bill is the primary newsmaker today. Here's the Associated Press report:
The bill was approved 275-156. Congress now awaits action by the Senate, probably on Friday. The White House said President Bush looks forward to signing it into law.

...The 1,725-page bill, the product of weeks of compromise between widely different versions approved by the two chambers earlier this year, would provide $14.5 billion in energy tax breaks, much of it to traditional energy companies. It also provides money for promoting renewable energy sources and new energy technologies and measures to revitalize the nuclear power industry.The Wall Street Journal takes up the nuclear angle:
The energy bill nearing passage in Congress could be the best news the nuclear-power industry has seen in many years. The question now is whether it will be enough good news to produce what the industry and the Bush administration bo…

Bangor Daily News: "Nuclear Power is Coming Back"

An editorial titled "Nuclear Power Is Coming Back" appears in today's edition of the Bangor Daily News. Here are the highlights:
This nation cannot go on squandering its limited natural gas supplies on unlimited burning of gas for electricity production when nuclear power is so much more economical. Nor can Americans afford to burn more and more coal when nuclear power plants are much cleaner and emit no global warming gases.

...If we hope to have the additional electricity and even maintain the percentage of power we are now receiving from emission-free sources, more nuclear plants will be essential. But if we want to improve the percentage of clean power, it will take a lot more nuclear capacity.Furthermore:
Somehow Americans need to understand how fortunate we are to have nuclear power available - how clean, safe and reliable, as well as efficient, it is. For they will never guess it from the negative media coverage nuclear power has received in recent years and the lon…

'New Math' and the New Economics Foundation

Recently, the New Economics Foundation, published a study examining energy choices in an age of global warming. But when you take a closer look at the study and its methodology, it's easy to surmise that the authors already knew what their conclusions would be before they ever started crunching the numbers.

Here’s NEF’s summary of nuclear in the study:
Nuclear power is being promoted as the answer to climate change and energy insecurity. But, as a response to global warming, it is too slow, too expensive and too limited. And in an age of terrorist threats, it is more of a security risk than a solution. Instead, the characteristics of a flexible, safe, secure and climate friendly energy supply system apply to renewable energy. In comparison, it leaves no toxic legacy and is abundant and cheap to harvest both in the UK and globally.Let's start with the assertion that nuclear is “too slow, too expensive and too limited” to help battle climate change. The study states on page 35:
The…

The NEI Morning Clip File

Here are some of the news clips we're reading at NEI this morning. Things are looking good on the energy bill front, as the House is poised to approve it when once it comes time for a final vote:
The House was set Thursday to approve an energy bill packed with $14.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives and hailed by Republicans as a major change in U.S. energy policy.

The bill will pass "overwhelmingly" in the House, predicted Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican and author of much of the 1,700-page legislation.

The Senate is expected to approve it Friday, just before Congress recesses for its summer vacation. President Bush has indicated he will sign the energy bill, which he called one of his top priorities in 2005.

"The enactment of this bill is needed to put us on a path to greater energy and economic security," said Treasury Secretary John Snow. "It will help American workers, families and businesses by increasing energy efficiency and conservation and re…

The NEI Afternoon Clip File

Here are some of the news clips we're reading at NEI this afternoon.

The energy bill continues to make headlines. The Albuquerque Tribune writes that Sens. Domenici and Bingaman, both from New Mexico, are feeling positive:
"It helps us move the country in the direction of our energy needs," [Bingaman] said.

..."I anticipate strong bipartisan support in the Senate," Domenici said in a statement. "I am particularly proud of the conservation and efficiency measures in this bill. We do everything we could think of to diversify our energy supply and develop new energies that don't rely on fossil fuels." Farmers are also satisfied with the bill, reports The Daily Nonpareil:
"It's very landmark legislation for rural America," Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters Tuesday. "Renewable fuel standards sets a 7.5 billion gallon mandate for ethanol and biodiesel. The tax package includes farmer-friendly provisions, including tax incentiv…

Energy Bill: nuclear energy provisions secure our energy future

The Next Generation Nuclear Plant project funded by the nuclear provisions in the energy bill is vital to nuclear energy’s growth. As communities accept the construction of plants in their communities, it becomes clear that nuclear power’s growth is inevitable. This growth along with investments in other alternatives can serve our current and future electricity demands

Communities like Oswego have readily accepted the prospects of new nuclear reactors in their backyards because the existing plants in that community have provided jobs, and an economic boom that was merely present before nuclear plants existed in those towns.

Also, considering projected power outages due to power grid failure and the forecast of depleted energy supply, the construction of more nuclear plants can defeat these operation failures. The bill invests $11.5 billion in tax incentives to develop the power grid, and sequester pollutants through the purchase of advanced pollution-control equipment. Also consider tha…

On My Soapbox for the Energy Bill

With increasing levels of incredulity I've been skimming the crush of press releases and articles quoting a few fringe environmentalists regarding the energy bill. The common thread in such statements is a condemnation of provisions that provide financial incentives to the energy industry to increase capacity and develop and utilize advanced technologies.

They decry the "waste" of taxpayer money.

So I ask:

Is it a waste to invest in a diverse energy portfolio that limits our dependence on any one generation source and thus supports national security?

Is it a waste to support developing technologies that will decrease polluting emissions and increase security and safety? And as an aside, I will repeat a fact that extremists often exclude; Every energy technology receives research and development support from the federal government.

Is it a waste to ensure that the generation capacity is available to support our growing population and economy?

The recent heat wave in large sw…

Anti-Nuke Alert: Nuclear Energy Poll

Thanks to one of our readers for passing along the fact that National Geographic is running a poll asking the question, "Would You Live Near a Nuclear Power Plant?"

We're way down, but I smell some ballot stuffing. To get to the poll and vote, click here and go to the link marked "POLL" on the left hand margin. And while I am urging you to vote, I'm also urging you to keep it clean -- which means no automated ballot stuffing, ok?

Now get over there and vote.

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Focus On the Energy Bill: Peaking power plants or baseload power plants?

The Christian Science Monitor has published an article entitled: Cost of electricity rising like summer heat. In the article, they summarize the difference to a utility (and the consumers) whether electricity demand is met with baseload plants or peaking plants, which are more expensive, often higher in emissions, and are designed and built to run only for short periods of the year when demand is highest. But this summer has been so hot that to meet the soaring demand, many utilities have had to turn to more expensive power plants, known as "peak generating plants." Instead of relying on coal or nuclear fuel, many of these power producers use more expensive oil or natural gas to power their turbines. The article also includes an illuminating quote the demonstrates conservation at its absolute worst. "The reason we are calling on the president is our concern about the impact of high temperatures on people's health, and we know that many low-income and elderly people…

Focus On the Energy Bill: What Choices Do We Have on Clean Air?

Even among the most educated, there seems to be some debate over whether human activity, specifically the emission of greenhouse gases (or GHGs) is having an impact on global warming. Never absent from the discussion are the "“hockey stick"” graph, movement of algae in the oceans, and "natural" temperature variations. On one end of the spectrum are those who tell us it'’s already too late. On the other end are those who tell us that our global impact is nil. Then there are the climate "agnostics" who aren't willing to say one way or the other.If you are anything like I am, you probably fall into the category of "“cautiously aware."”On one hand, the optimistic in me says that no matter how hard we try, we cannot have an impact on our global environment.On the other hand, the realist in me says that the emission of several billion metric tons of carbon into the air each year, which has been neatly sequestered beneath the ground for a stagg…

Focus On the Energy Bill: Contact Your Legislators

Not willing to place a phone call to your Senator or House Representative in support of the energy bill? No problem. Click here to access enAct, a Web-based tool that helps you send emails to your elected officials on Capitol Hill.

Don't waste time, do it right now.

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Focus On the Energy Bill: The View From Montana

From today's Great Falls Tribune:
A House-Senate panel Tuesday approved a sweeping new federal energy bill, which U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said includes key tax incentives for energy development in Montana that will also lessen American dependence on foreign oil.

"This energy tax package will help provide reliable, affordable energy for jobs, homes and Montana business," Baucus said. "I'm committed to working together to get this plan to the president."

Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., who serves on the committee that wrote the legislation, called the bill "bipartisan" and "balanced."

"It will help us use Montana's vast natural resources, while at the same time encourages greater conservation and efficiency," Burns said. "This bill will succeed because it recognizes that our future depends on a ready supply of affordable energy coming from coal, wind, natural gas, hydrogen fuel cells, and nuclear, to name a few."Tech…

Focus On The Energy Bill: The Value of New Nuclear

Our friend Rod Adams was up late last night doing some celebrating:
With a unanimous vote yesterday, the Board of County Commissioners for Calvert County, Maryland decided to submit a resolution and letter of support endorsing the NuStart Energy Development Corporation's consideration of the Calvert Cliffs site for one of their proposed new reactors. Board of County Commissioners Submits Resolution in Support of NuStart Energy's Calvert Cliffs Expansion Proposal.

I just finished my own quiet - it is, after all, only a bit after 4:00 am and the rest of my family is still sleeping - cheer and fist pumping when I read that press release.

(snip)

Unlike most of the rest of the power plants that dot the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, the plant does not have a smoke stack that pours out thousands of tons of pollutants every day. From a purely selfish point of view, I also know that expanding the plant there will help to keep my electrical power rates under control, esp…

Focus on the Energy Bill: Bring Some Perspective to Energy Policy

Here's the opener to an Associated Press story, as reported in the Louisiana Daily Comet:Six states are competing to land the country's first new nuclear energy plants in three decades. Environmental groups said they'll try to stop the facilities from opening, no matter which states are selected.Just that much of the article caught my eye, and I was intrigued to read on. I reflected on New England states' efforts to curb power plant emissions, sometimes above and beyond federal enforcement, because they and their leadership are concerned over the health of their citizens and their children. [See here and here, for examples.]

If states are even eager enough to consider competing for new nuclear development, do you think they're eager for rising electricity costs for their constituents? Of course not! Read your power bills closely - the costs are going up faster without new nuclear construction than would be if we had the choice for more inexpensive baseload power, th…

From the NEI Clip File

Here are some of the news clips we're reading at NEI today. The big news today is the energy bill that congress will soon vote on. The New York Times reports:
WASHINGTON, July 26 - After coming up short for years, Congress is preparing to enact a broad energy plan that would provide generous federal subsidies to the oil and gas industries, encourage new nuclear power plant construction and try to whet the nation's appetite for renewable fuels like ethanol and wind power.

Energy Bill Highlights: The mammoth energy policy measure, whose final details were hammered together in nine hours of negotiations that went into the early morning hours Tuesday, also gives the federal government new power to override local objections to facilities for handling growing imports of liquefied natural gas and takes a swipe at China's bid for Unocal. (Related Article)

"It is a darn good bill, and it is going to help this country, and the sooner we get it done, the better," said Represen…

Focus On The Energy Bill: Hydrogen

One of the most important research and development projects in this year's energy bill center around the use of hydrogen as a replacement for gasoline in vehicles. This week in U.S. News and World Report, the magazine took a closer look at the Honda FCX, which Richard Newman says compares favorably to hybrids and other economy cars:
[T]he FCX makes a persuasive case for the technology. The electric motor's clean, quiet ride is a reminder that the internal combustion engine, the automotive standard for a century, need not be the end of the road. And it's satisfying to look in the rearview mirror and know I'm leaving no toxins behind.For more on this topic, visit Green Car Congress and Hydrogen Power News.

UPDATE: Here's more from Hydrogcicle.

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New Agreement On Climate Change?

From yesterday's edition of The Australian:
AUSTRALIA has joined the US, China, India and South Korea in a secret regional pact on greenhouse emissions to replace the controversial Kyoto climate protocol.

The alliance, which is yet to be announced, will bring together nations that together account for more than 40 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

To be known as the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate, the grouping will aim to use the latest technologies to limit emissions and to make sure the technologies are available in the areas and industries that need them most.Technorati tags: , , , , ,

Happy Trails . . .

To my colleague Brian Smith, who will be leaving NEI at the end of the week to join the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). During the early days of the blog, Brian was really the only writer I could count on, and his posts on North Anna and the D.C. Department of Energy remain two of the most referenced in the NEI archive.

All the best, buddy.

Nuclear Energy Winning War Of Public Opinion

Polish scientist Przemyslaw Mastalerz on the futrue of nuclear energy:
The heavy opposition against electric power generation in atomic plants appears to be fading away with growing realization that atomic plants are safer than plants fired with coal because of the high death rate in coal mines. In addition, electricity from atomic plants is cheaper and its supply is more reliable than in the case of wind turbines and solar cells. In the past decades, when the fear of radiation prevailed, no new atomic power plants were built and the demolition of existing ones was considered but this seems to be over now. The fear of radiation is also decreasing with growing realization that low radiation doses are harmless or even beneficial to living creatures.Thanks to Greenie Watch for the pointer. For NEI's latest public opinion data, click here.

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Another Blogger For Nuclear Energy

Add Robert Synnott to the growing list:
Nuclear is the way to go. Moderately clean, moderately cheap, and nowadays very safe; far more people die from the effects of a large coal power plant over its lifetime than died as a direct or indirect result of the Tchernobyl explosion . . . France is an ideal case study of good implimentation; 70% of its power is nuclear, and its never had a significant accident. Japan is similar.

(snip)

And oddly, people seem unaware of the numerous ways we are dependant on the nuclear industry . . . Most smoke alarms use Americium, a nuclear reactor byproduct. Similar byproducts are used in many other devices, including machines for measuring metal thickness accurately and other important manufacturing devices. Nuclear byproducts are often used in radiation therapy in medicine, as well as for sterilising food. Radiothermic generators are used in some implanted devices, as well as in spacecraft. A few satillites (notably the Soviet US/A heavy radar satillite) u…

Rod Adams vs. Amory Lovins

Over the past week or so, our friend Rod Adams has been debunking the claims of Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI):
Participation in the anti-nuclear industry can be a pretty lucrative way to make a living. Maybe I should change sides? Not. Stay tuned.Start here, then click here and here to see what I'm talking about. As many of you might recall, my colleague David Bradish took a hard look at RMI's claims a few weeks ago, and they simply didn't pass muster.

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Anti-Nuke Alert: Fight For Nuclear's Place in the Energy Bill

I just got an important note from my colleague Lisa Shell on how everyone can express their support for the energy bill right now:
Anti-nuclear groups have organized a massive call-in to the U.S. Senate to oppose the nuclear provisions in the energy bill that is currently in joint-committee negotiations. Details about the anti-nuclear call-in are on the Nuclear Information and Resource Service website.

To make sure our PRO-nuclear voices are heard by our legistlators before they cast their votes, NA-YGN is conducting a pro-nuclear call-in effort scheduled for the entire day of Wednesday, July 27. The bill may be on its way to a floor vote by the end of the week.

The phone numbers to call are:

Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Toll-Free Numbers: 1-888-355-3588 or 1-877-762-8762

To find out who your Congressional representatives are, click:

http://www.house.gov/writerep/
http://www.senate.gov/

Keep your message clear and to the point! Staffers field hundreds of calls a day so don’t worry if you…

Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

James Miller will become president of PPL Corp. on Aug. 1. He will also continue in his role as the company's chief operating officer, a position he has held for about a year. In addition, Miller will join PPL's board of directors. Also joining the board, effective Sept. 1, are Craig Rogerson, president and chief executive officer of Hercules Inc., and Keith Williamson, president of the capital services division of Pitney Bowes Inc.

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From the NEI Clip File

Here are some of the news clips we're reading at NEI today. The Wichita Eagle is checking in on the energy bill:
House and Senate negotiators are awaiting completion of an $11.5 billion tax package before giving final approval to an sweeping compromise energy bill that Congress hopes to send to President Bush by week's end.

...The broad legislation includes measures to spur construction of new nuclear power plants, promote ways to reduce pollution from coal and provides a boon to farmers by requiring refiners to double the use of corn-based ethanol in gasoline to 7.5 billion gallons a year by 2012.

It also would...[provide] loan guarantees and other subsidies for clean energy technologies and new nuclear reactors. It would authorize a $1.8 billion program to promote clean coal technologies.With the NuStart consortium getting closer to an announcement of where they might build a new nuclear power plant, the six sites under consideration are lobbying hard to become one of the two …

Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

American Electric Power has named a new senior vice president for environment and safety. Dennis Welch will assume this position on Aug. 1. Welch comes to AEP from Yankee Energy System, an operating subsidiary of Northeast Utilities, where he has been president and chief executive officer since 2001.

Michael Gaffney has been named site vice president at Kewaunee Power Station, which Dominion Generation purchased from Wisconsin Public Service Corp. on July 5. Gaffney has spent 32 years working in nuclear operations, most recently as director of nuclear safety and licensing at Dominion's Surry Power Station.

Derek Bonham will retire from the TXU Corp. board of directors for health reasons. Bonham, who has served on the board since 1998, will remain until a replacement is found.

From the NEI Clip File

Here are some of the news clips we're reading at NEI today. The House-Senate conference committee is busy at work on the energy bill - one that includes a package of incentives critical to the industry:
The proposals call for taxpayers to share the cost of licensing the first generation of new plants, offer loan guarantees and set caps on industry liability in case of an accident, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

In addition, the White House wants to protect investors against regulatory delays by defraying the cost of some delays. Some proposals would give the nuclear industry protection against fluctuations in the price of electricity.

Nuclear power advocates say nuclear power would cut the country's dependence on foreign oil, may seem more attractive as oil prices increase and cut the production of greenhouse gases that can cause global warming.Keep an eye on this space for the latest developments on the progress of the conference committee, which we hear is going to be w…

Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

Gregory Rueger, chief nuclear officer of PG&E, will retire Aug. 31 after 33 years with the company. Rueger was also senior vice president of generation.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources unanimously approved three Department of Energy nominations on July 21. Pending Senate confirmation, Jill Sigal will become assistant secretary of energy for congressional and intergovernmental affairs. She has acted in this position since January 2005. David Hill will be DOE general counsel, after serving as deputy general counsel for energy policy since March 2002. James Rispoli is slated for assistant secretary of energy for environmental affairs. He is currently the director of DOE’s Office of Engineering and Construction Management.

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Heat Wave Drives Fear of California Blackout

Just off the wire:
California looked set to escape without power blackouts on Thursday, allaying earlier fears sparked by record breaking demand in the southern half of the state and a series of power plant breakdowns, a spokesman for the state's Independent System Operator said.

But the ISO said Friday could see new problems as temperatures rose in the northern half of the state.

The state agency warned earlier on Thursday that rotating blackouts were possible, but demand for power started to dip from record breaking levels late in the afternoon.I think this might be a good time to mention that our CEO, Skip Bowman, will be giving a speech entitled, "Why America Needs Nuclear Energy Now!" on September 13, 2005 at LA Town Hall (click here to register). The luncheon speech will be held at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel. Hope to see you there.

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Correcting The Record With Marketplace

On Tuesday's edition of the public radio program Marketplace, Economist reporter Vijay Vaitheeswaran outlined a number of points (Real Player required) that he felt mitigated against a comeback for nuclear energy. As it turns out, the piece contains a number of claims that we've already addressed in one form of another here at NEI Nuclear Notes.

Here's a copy of an e-mail that NEI Vice President Scott Peterson sent to the program a few minutes ago, annotated with links to the source material where appropriate:
Short on facts, Vijay Vaitheeswaran erroneously tries to evoke the horrors of September 11 in his misguided commentary about the resurgence of nuclear energy across the world.

Within his wrongheaded rancor, one thing Vijay Vaitheeswaran didn't tell you is that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission holds nuclear power plants to the highest security standards of any American industry. And, U.S. nuclear plants received the only "A" grade in a security report rele…

Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

Alliant Energy Corp. announced July 12 the appointment of Dean Oestreich to its board of directors. Oestreich is president of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.

Also as of July 12, Theresa Stone and Steve Jones are the newest members of Progress Energy's board of directors. Stone is chief financial officer and executive vice president of Jefferson Pilot Corp. and president of Jefferson-Pilot Communications Co. Jones is dean of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Update: The White House has announced that President George W. Bush intends to name Paul Golan acting director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which is responsible for the Yucca Mountain repository project in Nevada. Golan has been deputy director of the office since April 2005.

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From the NEI Clip File

Here are some of the news clips we're reading at NEI today. During an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman stressed the importance of federal support for nuclear energy, as well as calling for a diverse energy portfolio to enhance American energy security: Bodman said the administration is working with conferees "to include federal insurance to protect new reactor projects from economic harm resulting from regulatory and legal delays."

He said he is optimistic that the conferees will include this new insurance plan. He said nuclear power executives considering new plants are less influenced by subsidies than they are by delays that can raise the cost of projects. Federal insurance "gives them a sense of comfort" to go ahead, he said.

In his prepared remarks, Bodman said the U.S. must make basic changes in its energy policy, starting with building more energy infrastructure, such as new electrical transmission facilities, oil refiner…