On Saturday, the Tribune ran a story about the impending growth in electricity demand for our state over the next 15 years. 2.25 GW of demand growth. On Wednesday, an editorial explaining how this situation could be handled was published. Through Basin Electric, the editorial touted wind and natural gas as simple on-demand solutions. This is the easy answer due to the favor of government subsidies for wind turbines and the rapid and cheap deployment of natural gas power plants.
I write to advocate for a different solution. To break the atom. Nuclear power never took root in North Dakota due to its huge economy of scale. Each reactor in a power plant produces more than 1 GW of electricity. The long-term cost of nuclear power is among the lowest in the industry, and most of that cost is related to construction financing (something we can alleviate), not day-to-day operations. Unlike renewable energy sources, which can only deliver electricity to the grid 20-30% of the time due to intermittency, nuclear energy regularly exceeds 90%, which is far superior to natural gas. , coal and even hydroelectric power. This means that we do not pay for the backup power plants needed for renewable energy.
A nuclear power plant is exactly the type of construction that corresponds to the values of North Dakota. It’s an investment in long-term infrastructure that would provide cheap, reliable, and plentiful electricity for the rest of our lives (operating licenses expire 80 years at some facilities). This energy is an important basis for economic expansion. Lower electricity bills are a substantial subsidy for residents, especially during winters like this. Nuclear power would help the state meet the governor’s 2030 carbon emissions goal, and it would elevate our state to be the energy leader we claim to be.
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