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During the January polar vortex, nuclear energy facilities again proved their mettle in the face of extreme weather. Jan. 4-7, for example, nuclear power plants nationwide operated at an average capacity of 95 percent to 97 percent. That translates to large-scale electricity production at nearly full scale around the clock. Similarly, during a blistering heat wave last July, all but a handful of nuclear power plants generated electricity at full power.
We ignore such achievements at our own peril. Although most challenges to the grid are storm-related, there soon could be a time when interruptions in our reliable supply are more frequent and a drag on our economy. State and federal policymakers, working with industry and other stakeholders, can’t let that happen.
Congress has a key role to play — exercising oversight over the executive branch agencies responsible for energy and environmental policy; drawing attention to the serious problems lurking just beneath the surface in the electric sector; and working with their counterparts at the state level to eliminate policies that distort the market.
John F. Young is president and CEO of Energy Future Holdings Corp. Christopher M. Crane is president and CEO of Exelon Corp. They are the chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the Nuclear Energy Institute’s board of directors.