Eleven members of Duke Energy’s North America Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) chapter met with legislators from North Carolina and South Carolina to advocate for nuclear energy as part of the Nuclear Energy Assembly (NEA) conference in Washington D.C. Attendees were able to address the many questions legislators have about nuclear energy and its role as the foundation for a cleaner energy future.
“Many people still have questions about nuclear safety, but don’t understand the rigorous safety standards the nuclear industry is governed by,” said Tucker Thompson, a nuclear engineer at Brunswick Nuclear Plant. Thomas Myers, a lead business and technical consultant at Oconee Nuclear Station explains, “We spoke of the safety precautions we take in every task we perform, as well as the extensive briefings we complete. And, with advancements in technology and new nuclear and small modular reactors requiring a smaller footprint, we are able to share how newer plants will be able to be built even safer and with more straightforward safeguards to protect those (who operate the plants) as well as the public.”
Many underestimate the power nuclear can provide. “Most people assume that we could power the entire country on wind and solar alone, but do not realize nuclear energy provides baseload electricity when wind and solar are unable to generate,” said Thompson. “The NEA provides us the opportunity to learn about changes and advancements in the industry, while also having the chance to meet with representatives and the public to share our firsthand knowledge and experience of nuclear power and help dispel decades of old information likely learned through movies and semi-realistic documentaries.”
Events like the Nuclear Energy Assembly and face-to-face advocacy opportunities help address questions. “It’s always good to put a face to a name (when meeting with legislators),” said Lois Arasim Andrews, a nuclear engineer based in Charlotte. “We talked about not only environmental factors, but also about the variety of good jobs these plants create and the impact they have on the surrounding communities."
“I think the primary benefit of representing Duke Energy on Capitol Hill is connecting directly with policymakers as their constituents,” said Myers. “Meeting directly with our elected officials allows them to put the faces of real people who are a part of the nuclear industry with facts and statistics.”
Employees representing Duke Energy NAYGN at the conference and on Capitol Hill were Lois Arasim Andrews, Tyler Andrews, Thomas Buzek, Brian Holman, Martin Isoler, Amanda Lang, Ashley Lawrence, Thomas Myers, Rebecca Petrea, Joseph Rowland and Tucker Thompson.