Shaw Group Urges Commitment to Nuclear Power

The Shaw Group Inc.'s J.M. Bernhard Jr. called for a national commitment to build up to 50 nuclear power plants by 2030, telling a gathering of power industry leaders that the jobs, clean electricity, and energy independence created by a "nuclear renaissance" offer a unique platform to achieve the "hope and change" pledged by President-elect Barack Obama.

"If this nation and the Obama administration are truly serious about controlling global warming, nuclear power must maintain its 20 percent share of U.S. power generation," said Bernhard, Shaw's chair, president, and chief executive officer, during a keynote address at the Power-Gen International 2008 trade show in Orlando, Fla. "That will require the construction of 45 to 50 new nuclear plants by 2030, while also maintaining operation of the current fleet."

Such a commitment, he said, would have the support of most Americans. "Almost 70 percent of Americans favor the construction of new nuclear plants," Bernhard said. "That level of public opinion has never been higher."

One reason a nuclear renaissance is vital, he explained, is that alternative forms of generation are years away from providing reliable, plentiful, and affordable carbon-free electricity. While wind and solar are receiving a lot of attention as sources of clean energy, Bernhard cautioned that "we need to be honest" about their ability to meet U.S. electricity needs.

Bernhard said a nuclear renaissance "would create an industry-driven jobs program unrivaled since the great infrastructure projects of FDR's Works Progress Administration. But unlike those Depression-era programs, the nuclear renaissance won't be fueled with deficit financing by the federal government. Rather, it will be paid for with private capital and built by private citizens."

The full keynote address is available at