No sooner do I get off a post about the challenges the “nuclear industry” faces when it comes to strategic communication than Areva, the French giant, launches a blog dedicated to promoting its North American operations. It went live this morning. One of the first posts, by an Areva communications executive, says there are 60,000 potential new jobs in nuclear energy in the U.S. Somewhat understated is the point that these 60,000 high-paid, high-skilled, long-term jobs will never materialize unless congress rethinks the dogma that blocked funding for these jobs.
I refer of course to the deliberate exclusion of funding for nuclear projects in the stimulus bill the president signed on February 17 (see article). Twenty-six project proponents applied for $122 billion in loan guarantees under the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The original amount set aside for loan guarantees was $18.5 billion.
Not only did the February 17 stimulus package omit further support for nuclear projects, but the current $18.5 billion in loan guarantees might be in jeopardy because it requires proponents to have received a license from the nuclear regulator by September 2009. The regulator won’t issue any licenses before 2010.
In putting together its blog, Areva North America approached a disparate group of North American bloggers and asked for advice. For the bloggers concerned, that was a pretty radical first.
What does it say about the North American nuclear industry that a French company was the first to try to promote a dialog about nuclear energy on the continent? Areva is among the most successful reactor manufacturers, and its home country has the most “nuclearized” electric power industry. The French, generally, smile on the atom.
What progress could Canada make on job creation, industrial development, and greenhouse gas reduction if the Canadian public supported nuclear energy the way the French public does.