By SEN. DANNY CARROLL
Energy in Kentucky has been and continues to be powered by coal as it produces 80 percent of the energy consumed in our great Commonwealth, but creating a balanced energy portfolio in Kentucky will be vital to our success in the future. To allow an additional source of reliable energy generation that would spur job creation and economic development in Kentucky, the House needs to pass Senate Bill (SB) 11 to lift our state's nuclear energy moratorium.
The U.S. Energy Department projects that domestic energy demand will rise by 22 percent by the year 2040 even with modest economic growth. Our country will need hundreds of new power plants of all types to meet this increased demand. To ensure a diverse supply portfolio, many of these new power plants will need to be nuclear.
A nuclear energy plant in Kentucky can strengthen our state and local economy through jobs, taxes, and direct spending. A typical nuclear plant generates $470 million per year in economic output, including over $35 million in total labor income, and pays $16 million to state and local taxes annually. These tax dollars will benefit our schools, roads, and other local means of infrastructure.
Nuclear plants are engines for job growth. Four new reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina are sustaining tens of thousands of well-paying jobs in those communities and across their respective regions. Upon completion, these facilities will provide affordable electricity and steady economic growth for decades. Energy policy is not a short-term endeavor. We must have a long-term plan and utilize any and all options available to us.
Estimations tell us that our current supply of coal and natural gas in Kentucky for baseload energy will provide for hundreds of years, but as we are all aware, these sources are subject to political and environmental influences that can dramatically impact their bottom-line cost. With that said, doesn't it make sense to add a third reliable source of energy? Because nuclear energy emits no carbon emissions, it would allow for increased use of coal by not expending any additional carbon credits. This bill is not about competing with coal; it is about complementing and supplementing our coal industry.
If Senate Bill 11 does pass the House of Representatives and is signed by Gov. Bevin, there would be no immediate expectation to build a nuclear reactor in Kentucky. But when the market eventually does dictate the need for a reactor, we want to be prepared. SB 11's immediate impact could be in the area of research and development and/or manufacturing. Either way there will be increased opportunities to attract business and industry to our state that might be sensitive to Kentucky's current energy policy.
I know how important coal has been in the history of Kentucky's energy, and I know that it will continue to be vital to the future of energy in Kentucky. As a legislator and a citizen of this state, I am committed to supporting Kentucky's coal industry in the future. I also support diversified means of energy and want to make Kentucky as competitive and successful as it possibly can be, which is why I have proposed to lift the nuclear moratorium in our state through SB 11.
There is a clear renaissance under way in the United States in nuclear energy with over 40 start-up companies currently researching and perfecting technologies that are safer and less expensive to implement. We cannot compete with other states unless we can ensure a future of inexpensive energy in our commonwealth. Nuclear energy must be a key component of those efforts!
I urge all Kentuckians to stand with me in support of nuclear energy and to help get SB 11 signed by Gov. Matt Bevin in 2017.
Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Paducah) represents the 2nd District encompassing Ballard, Carlisle, Marshall and McCracken counties. Sen. Carroll serves as the chairman of the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government as well as the co-chair of the Program Review and Investigations Committee. He also serves as a member of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, the Education Committee, the Budget Review Subcommittee on Education, the Health and Welfare Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Government Nonprofit Contracting Task Force.