No Third Nuke Is Not All Bad

Dear Bay Weekly:

Constellation Energy, the parent company of BGE, has indicated that because more taxpayer dollars were not offered in loan guarantees or rebates, it will quit the effort to build a third nuclear reactor at the current Calvert Cliffs generation site.

Last week Rep. Steny Hoyer said he will attempt to restart the failed process. If he fails, Southern Maryland will apparently lose thousands of temporary construction jobs that would have been needed for the project. Yet we will be spared the inevitable cost overruns and technical problems that are plaguing construction of similar reactors in Europe. And we also won’t be charged the increased electricity rates necessary to pay for such extravagance and risk.

Increased energy efficiency would reduce demand and our bills. My family has been investing in improving our home energy efficiency for years. We have increased caulking to seal leaks. As our regular light bulbs have burnt out, we have replaced them with super-efficient compact fluorescents. Most significantly, when we needed to replace an ailing clothes washer, we chose a state-of-the-art washer and dryer combination to reduce both energy consumption and water use. Even though electric rates have increased over this time period, our bills have not.

In addition, efficiency programs can also put people to work, creating jobs insulating homes, installing modern lighting systems and appliances, manufacturing energy-saving equipment, and many other valuable tasks.

To promote energy efficiency, the Maryland government has enacted one of the highest efficiency goals in the country. If we meet this efficiency level, we would surpass the potential increased energy of a new reactor at Calvert Cliffs — while saving Marylanders $1.4 billion on energy bills by 2020.

We also need to make smart investments in clean sources of energy like wind and solar. Offshore wind and solar power are both cheaper than the estimated cost of power from a new nuclear reactor, and they make much safer investments. We also don’t have to figure out what to do with heaps of radioactive waste.

We citizens have the power to take charge of our energy future with investments in safe, clean and economic electricity production and conservation measures. We should ask all our elected officials to do the same.

–Frank L. Fox, Mechanicsville