Nuclear Matters unveils study touting the benefits of Michigan nuclear plants

Michigan’s four nuclear energy plants contribute more than a half-billion dollars to the state’s gross domestic product (GDP), in addition to other economic and societal benefits, said a new study conducted by economists at global consulting firm The Brattle Group.

The report comes at a time when many of the nation’s nuclear power plants are trying to weather low power market prices. Brattle estimates the contribution of the Michigan nuclear power plants to state’s economy and to limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Combined, the state’s four reactors – American Electric Power’s Cook Units 1 and 2 in Bridgman, DTE Energy’s Fermi 2 near Monroe, and Entergy’s Palisades in Covert Township – provide Michigan householders and employers with about 4,000 MW of emissions-free electricity and nearly 32 million megawatt hours (MWh) of annual electricity generation.

The Brattle research, done on behalf of the advocacy group Nuclear Matters, concludes that Michigan’s nuclear industry accounts for 3,200 in-state full time jobs (direct and secondary) and provides almost $23 million in net state tax revenues annually. Average annual carbon dioxide emissions would be about 25 million tons greater absent the generation from these nuclear plants. This is worth an additional $1 billion annually if valued at the U.S. government’s estimate for the social cost of carbon.

“The economic and environmental benefits of nuclear energy are often undervalued in national and state energy policy discussions,” said Dr. Mark Berkman, co-author of the report and a principal at Brattle. “It is even more critical to consider the significant value of U.S. nuclear plants in a landscape where nuclear facilities are threatened in some areas of the country.”

“This report stresses the need for nuclear energy to ensure that Americans can continue to reap the indisputable benefits that these plants bring to the table,” said Nuclear Matters co-chair, former U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. “The public and policymakers are seldom offered such starkly obvious public policy choices as working to ensure existing nuclear energy plants continue to operate.”

“Reducing carbon emissions is one of our country’s top priorities, especially in light of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently finalized Clean Power Plan,” stated Nuclear Matters co-chair, former U..S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind. “And yet, in this carbon-constrained world, existing nuclear energy plants receive no value for their ability to generate an astounding amount of carbon-free, reliable energy. The answer to one of our biggest environmental and economic challenges lies, in part, in nuclear energy. Without nuclear power, it would be impossible to achieve our carbon reduction objectives.”

“Manufacturing is the largest sector of the Michigan economy and electricity is a critical input to producing Michigan-made products,” said Mike Johnston, Vice President of Government Affairs at the Michigan Manufacturers Association. “These nuclear power plants play an important role in delivering reliable base-load electric generation not only for Michigan manufacturing, but also the residents of Michigan. As policymakers debate the energy future of our state, particularly in the face of new federal regulatory mandates that will shut down large portions of our coal-based generation in Michigan and nationally, it is vital that nuclear power is properly valued and remains a pillar of Michigan’s strategically diverse energy mix.”

Nuclear energy in Michigan also helps keep electricity prices lower than they would otherwise be. In fact, Michigan consumers would pay $37 million more annually (in 2015 dollars) and over $300 million more over the next ten years (on a net present value basis) without these plants, Brattle found.

Nuclear energy provides almost 20% of the United States’ electricity and more than 25% of electricity in Michigan.

Nuclear Power Plants’ Contribution to the Michigan Economy” was prepared for Nuclear Matters by Brattle. A national report that estimates the value of the entire nuclear industry to the U.S. economy, “The Nuclear Industry’s Contribution to the U.S. Economy,” was released earlier this year. The national report concludes that the United States’ nuclear energy plants contribute $60 billion annually to national GDP, among other findings.

The mission of Nuclear Matters is to inform the public about the clear benefits that nuclear energy provides to the nation, to raise awareness of the economic challenges to nuclear energy that threaten those benefits, and to work with stakeholders to explore possible policy solutions that properly value nuclear energy as a reliable, affordable and carbon-free electricity resource that is essential to America’s energy future.

Supporters of Nuclear Matters include a range of companies and organizations, including: Ameren Missouri, Arizona Public Service Co., AREVA, Black & Veatch, Centrus Energy Corp., Dominion, Duke Energy, Energy Future Holdings Corp., Entergy, Exelon Corp., FirstEnergy Corp., Nebraska Public Power District, NextEra Energy, Omaha Public Power District, Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern Co., Tennessee Valley Authority and Westinghouse Electric.

The Brattle Group analyzes complex economic, finance, and regulatory questions for corporations, law firms, and governments around the world. We are distinguished by the clarity of our insights and the credibility of our experts, which include leading international academics and industry specialists.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.