By Greg Lormand, BCP President
The recent NEI Nuclear Energy Assembly (NEA) conference made me stop and think about my “Why?” Why do I work in nuclear energy? Why do I strongly support and believe that nuclear generation is part of our long-term energy solution?
It is best that I give you some background from the recent NEA conference to help explain.
The NEA conference focused heavily on the pressures that face nuclear generation and the potential risk these pressures put on potential plant closures, and the long-term viability of nuclear generation industry in the U.S. They discussed and showed market research on the general public’s lack of understanding of the value that nuclear generation brings to the table. The benefits such as carbon free generation, reliability, and security the public admires and wants, but when coupled with nuclear generation the favorability shoots downward. How can this be? Why would so many think so little of the best source of clean energy this world has. How do we change perspective, opinion, and ultimately decisions that will drive the acceptance, the want for more nuclear generation? One word…Advocacy. In other words, your story… your “Why?”
Advocacy has to occur at the individual level. It has to evolve from each individual’s story on why they work and in most cases why have they dedicated their lives to this industry. We must each tell our story and begin the process of converting doubters into fans of nuclear. This takes effort and in all likelihood, for the bulk of us, takes us out of our natural comfort zones.
Ken Schmidt, guest speaker, discussed the need that when trying to change opinions or create vocal fans, we need to have a good story. He discussed simply delivering to expectations, doesn’t leave others with a good story to tell; and that if others can’t tell a good story, they are not emotionally attached to us. A lack of emotional connection results in indifference, which results in no preference to choosing a preferred electric generation source. He argued that everything is a commodity. Everyone is good at what they do. We have to create a differentiator that leaves something with our connections that they can tell others, so that they can ADVOCATE on our behalf.
He asked us to ask ourselves three questions:
- What are people saying about nuclear generation?
- What do we want people to say about nuclear generation?
- What are we doing to get them to say it about nuclear generation?
To be truly effective, we each have to build advocacy in our connections. We must demonstrate, VISIBLE PASSION. Visible Passion is what translates to other people, attracts other people, and moves others to see behaviors and model behaviors.
So…what’s my “Why?” “What’s my story?”
I decided to start my career in the electric and gas industry, in the early 90’s because I saw it as the backbone of the country… the life-line that made our way of life possible. I got involved because at the time it was the beginning of dynamic times in the industry – deregulation was happening and demand side management programs were the rage… change was coming and I wanted to be part of that. Through the next 16 years, I learned from domestic and international utilities, learned the ins and outs of T&D, customer service and supply chain, all the while hearing about this “gold-plated” nuclear industry. In 2004, fortune laid her hands on me and I found my way to BCP where I was formally introduced to nuclear and began learning that “gold-plated” translated to safety, reliability, and security. Through various projects I learned more about the carbon-free emissions and the politically induced problem relating to spent fuel storage. I began to understand and value what nuclear provides me as an individual and society as a whole by being the most reliable, predictable source of base-load generation that exist. I became a convert and now more than ever want to help lead this industry into the future.
So why do I work and advocate for Nuclear?
- Nuclear can help save lives
Nearly 7 Million people die prematurely from air pollution world-wide. Nuclear can help reduce that number.
- Nuclear can help close the gap on world-poverty
Availability and access to clean electricity is critical to helping lift the world’s poor areas out of poverty and into prosperity. It has the potential to serve as the foundation for which change, health, and economics can be built.
- Nuclear makes my life better
Providing reliable, always-on electricity makes my life more comfortable and enables me and my family to enjoy life.
- Nuclear energy is safe
I would take any day of the week with a nuclear plant in my backyard over any other baseload generation, because their generation is free of carbon emissions, it keeps our environment clean and that makes me feel good knowing that we may pass on a safe, clean environment to our children.
The only question I have for you is: What is your “Why?” And who are you sharing it with?