Tuesday, July 26, 2011

U.S. heat wave causes new look at nuclear energy (likely due to heat stroke)

Temperatures began going down Sunday in the eastern half of the country, dropping from last week's record triple-digits and easing a heat wave blamed for at least 34 deaths.

Power suppliers are also breathing easier.

CBS News correspondent Whit Johnson reports that the nation's two biggest grids, serving 100-million consumers in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, both broke peak usage records last Thursday.

Demand was said to be ten percent higher than the average for July, and with demand only growing, going nuclear is getting another look.

The nuclear power comeback could be fueled with the fact that U.S. energy demand is expected to increase by 21-percent in the next two decades.

President Barack Obama said not long ago: "We've got to recognize that nuclear power, if it's safe, can make a significant contribution to the climate change question."

Mr. Obama has called for billions in loan guarantees to build new nuclear reactors.

But past disasters like Fukushima, Japan, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl have made Americans fearful of nuclear energy.

There has not been a single new nuclear plant that has gone on-line since 1996, but that's about to change. Westinghouse CEO Aris Candris showed CBS News the simulated control room for the AP 1000.

"The U.S. fleet right now is about twice as safe as required by law. The AP 1000 is one hundred times safer," Candris said. (more)