The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is streamlining some of its functions prior to naming its new president and CEO, a move which is being targeted by Oct. 1, the trade group said.
The changes, being made in advance of the retirement of longtime NEI President and CEO Marvin Fertel, will result in the departure of two senior vice presidents, NEI confirmed Aug. 12.
Fertel had announced in December 2015 that he would be retiring from the nuclear lobbying organization by the end of 2016.
“The Nuclear Energy Institute is restructuring the key areas of external affairs under one division,” Fertel said in a statement. “Three previously separate divisions – Governmental Affairs, Communications and Policy – are being combined under one senior person so that, upon my retirement at the end of 2016, NEI’s next chief executive can have a stable leadership team already in place,” Fertel said.
“I announced this news to our staff and made them aware that, sadly, our long-time senior vice presidents for governmental affairs, Alex Flint, and communications, Scott Peterson, will be leaving in the fall,” Fertel said.
“Alex and Scott are immensely respected among their colleagues and peers throughout the nuclear energy industry, and I can’t begin to express how important they have been to me during my career, particularly these past seven years as president and chief executive officer,” Fertel went on to say.
Alex Flint, the group’s top lobbyist, joined NEI in 2006 after serving as director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Peterson is the head of NEI communications, including media relations and coalition management. Peterson has been with NEI since 2004. Peterson previously was director of communications for the American Nuclear Energy Council, an NEI predecessor organization.
“The nuclear energy industry is facing one of the most transformational periods in its history,” Fertel said, adding that “2017 and 2018 lie ahead as a critical window for us. The new presidential administration will be in place, providing a valuable opportunity to change the dialogue on the importance of nuclear energy to our economic and environmental goals.”
“Given the change in leadership and looking at this pivotal period for our industry, we are acting now to better position NEI to have enduring impact in the political and policy arena,” Fertel said.
NEI will initiate a search for our new senior leader of external affairs very soon, the group said.
The moves come at a time when premature retirements have already been announced for several facilities in the existing 100 nuclear units in the domestic fleet. Many others are considered at risk because of market conditions. Only a handful of new units are in the pipeline.
In addition to the retirement of Fertel, who has headed the nuclear power trade group since 2009, Richard Myers, NEI Vice President for Policy Development, Planning and Supplier Programs, has also announced plans to retire by the end of 2016. Myers is retiring after a three-decade career in the nuclear industry.
In April, NEI announced that Revis James, previously an official with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) was joining NEI to succeed Myers as vice president for policy development and planning.
NEI’s has an approved staff headcount of 138 people, an NEI spokesperson told GenerationHub. When asked the spokesperson said no additional staff reductions are currently planned. “We are continually looking at ways to be most effective in the most cost efficient manner,” according to the NEI statement.