We are very concerned about continuing to burn fossil fuels to meet our electric power needs. Doing so is causing global warming and disastrous climate change as well as destruction of the environment including strip-mining and “fracking.” It is estimated that annually air pollution kills thousands and more than 100 billion dollars are spent to treat associated cancer, lung disease, and respiratory illnesses.
We also have local concerns. After a lifetime spent taking the Nashua River from an open sewer to a beautiful river enjoyed by all and helping to create greenways and other conservation areas in the River’s Watershed, we are suddenly confronted by the intrusion of a high pressure gas pipeline.
In 2013, Groton got 44% of its electricity from carbon-free nuclear reactors; up from 40% in 2012. Without this contribution from nuclear we would be stuck with making up the 44% from carbon-emitting fossil fuels. On the other side of the coin, if we had twice the current nuclear power contribution, Groton’s electricity would be totally carbon-free with the extra 12% currently coming from hydro, solar and wind.
To avoid global warming and consequential dramatic climate changes, nuclear power must make up a large part of the mix of power sources.
Methane, i.e. “natural” gas has a solid track record for killing lots of people. No deaths or health problems have been caused by the 104 US nuclear reactors (including Three-Mile Island).
In a nuclear, wind powered, and solar world we can avoid burning carbon-emitting natural gas to heat our homes.
Efficient, electrically-powered heat pumps can be used for heating.
Also, in a win-win deal called “Megatons to Megawatts,” 10% of total US electrical power now comes from our nuclear reactors using recycled Russian bombs.
The bad news is that many of our current nuclear power plants were built over four decades ago and will be retired as their licenses and extensions run out. The good news is that five new reactors are being constructed in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
We believe that increases in user efficiency and use of renewables for power generation may someday be able to shoulder all of US electric power needs. Several thousand more Cape Cod Wind Farms would be needed for the wind farm contribution. An essential missing link that is yet to be invented is high capacity electricity storage for when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing.
In the meantime nuclear power remains the only current means of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.
Hugh and Marion Stoddart
Groton, June 2014