Brown named to nuclear-energy task force

Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee meets on January 14, 2014

State Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, today announced her appointment to the new Joint Select Task Force on Nuclear Energy. The bipartisan group of state senators and representatives will study the feasibility and economic benefits of increasing nuclear-power production in the state.

“As our population grows, getting affordable, clean energy to homes and businesses is a top priority,” Brown said. “Washington is fortunate to get 73 percent of its energy from hydropower. It’s clean, cheap and renewable, but that’s only part of the solution.

“Nuclear power must be a part of that mix, as it is the only reliable, realistic way to go green. I’m looking forward to helping examine the potential of nuclear power to play an even more significant role in Washington’s economic and clean-energy future.”

Nuclear power accounts for a mere 8.9 percent of the state’s power portfolio. Brown’s nuclear-study group is tasked with examining whether increased nuclear-power production is a viable, cost-effective means of further reducing Washington’s use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

“Today’s nuclear power is clean, safe, affordable and one hundred percent carbon-free,” said Brown, the Senate’s leading advocate for nuclear power. The bill she co-sponsored to create the task force was transformed into a provision in this year’s operating-budget revisions.

“Our committee hopes to come back before the 2015 legislative session with a number of recommendations for increasing the percentage of nuclear power in the state’s clean-energy portfolio. There is a lot going on with small, modular nuclear-reactor technology, and Washington is well-positioned to take the lead in this field.”

Brown , whose 8th Legislative District includes the Columbia Generating Station, the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear-energy facility, has been instrumental in promoting nuclear energy in the Legislature, including securing a $500,000 state Department of Commerce grant to study the issue. The grant, awarded to the Tri-City Development Council last year, is set to fund a site analysis of Hanford as a possible location for a new federal Small Modular Reactor.

Brown hopes that the site-selection analysis, combined with the legislative task force, will result in more affordable energy for the state and more jobs for the people she represents.

“This study will help give my fellow lawmakers a clearer picture of the potential of nuclear power to support the local Tri-Cities economy and create jobs, in addition to providing clean energy for all Washingtonians. It’s a definite win-win for employers and consumers, and I am excited to be a part of it.”