(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Shaw Group Inc. (NYSE:SGR) Chairman 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 Mr. Bernhard, Shaw’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, during a keynote address at last week’s 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,” Mr. 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, Shaw’s chairman cautioned that “we need to be honest” about their ability to meet U.S. electricity needs.
“Wind and solar will play a part, but they will not replace baseload sources of electric generation,” he said.
Given that reality, Mr. Bernhard said that nuclear must continue to play a significant role in meeting U.S. electricity demand that is projected to grow 1.1 percent annually through 2030.
Moreover, because of the limitations facing alternatives, Mr. Bernhard said that any serious effort to curb greenhouse-gas emissions must include a significant amount of carbon-free nuclear power.
Beyond its environmental benefits, Mr. Bernhard told the Power-Gen audience that a nuclear renaissance also would help drive the economic revitalization promised by President-elect Obama during the election campaign.
Mr. 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.”
Shaw's chairman cited a number of economic benefits that would be generated by a national commitment to build a new generation of nuclear power plants:
* Each nuclear construction project would directly employ approximately 4,000 craft workers.
* Once completed, a nuclear plant’s operation and maintenance would generate 400-700 permanent jobs paying an average of 36 percent more than local wages.
* The typical nuclear plant annually generates $430 million in sales of goods and services in the local community and $40 million in total labor income.
“The fact is that few initiatives can achieve the ‘hope and change’ promised by our incoming president like the nuclear renaissance: jobs for the middle class, economic growth, energy independence and a cleaner environment,” Mr. Bernhard said.
The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a “safe harbor” for certain forward-looking statements. The statements contained herein that are not historical facts (including without limitation statements to the effect that the Company or its management “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “plans” or other similar expressions) and statements related to revenues, earnings, backlog, or other financial information or results are forward-looking statements based on the Company’s current expectations and beliefs concerning future developments and their potential effects on the Company. There can be no assurance that future developments affecting the Company will be those anticipated by the Company. These forward-looking statements involve significant risks and uncertainties (some of which are beyond our control) and assumptions and are subject to change based upon various factors. Should one or more of such risks or uncertainties materialize, or should any of our assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary in material respects from those projected in the forward-looking statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. A description of some of the risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from such forward-looking statements can be found in the Company’s reports and registration statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Form 10-K and Form 10-Q reports, and on the Company's Web site under the heading "Forward-Looking Statements.” These documents are also available from the Securities and Exchange Commission or from the Investor Relations department of Shaw. For more information on the Company and announcements it makes from time to time on a regional basis, visit our Web site at www.shawgrp.com.
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