Examining the problem for nuclear power shows value in informing the public.
Ann Stouffer Bisconti, PhD, is president of Bisconti Research, Inc., a public opinion and communications research company. Before establishing Bisconti Research in 1996, Dr. Bisconti was vice president of research and program evaluation for the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). She continues, under contract to NEI, the large-scale program of public opinion and communications research on nuclear energy she initiated in 1983. This body of research, with long-term trends on many questions, provides a unique database for understanding public opinion on nuclear energy topics.
As the price of electricity drops, due largely to abundant natural gas from fracking, some vital electricity resources are being lost and others are threatened.
It started with the shocking announcement in 2013 that Dominion planned to shut down the Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin, a well-performing 1,772 megawatt thermal nuclear power plant. The low price of electricity in the plant's market had made the plant non-competitive.
That's a permanent loss. Once a nuclear power plant goes into decommissioning, it can never be restarted. With other nuclear power plants following, the question has to be asked:
What should be done to create market conditions that prevent the loss of the nation's only zero-carbon large-scale baseload electricity source?
A nationwide public opinion survey this spring took a first step in engaging the public on this dilemma. The topic was addressed as part of a survey of a thousand U.S. adults, conducted for the Nuclear Energy Institute, from March 11 to April 11, 2016. Bisconti Research Inc. conducted the survey with Quest Global Research.