APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Monday, March 19, 2012

NEI - New Nuclear Ad Campaign

Following is a Nuclear Energy Institute press release from this morning.

Nuclear Energy Institute FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE•Contact:202.739.8000
•For Release:March 19, 2012

Multimedia Ad Campaign Highlights Benefits of Clean Air Nuclear Energy

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Nuclear Energy Institute tomorrow will launch an advertising campaign that represents a new direction for the nuclear energy industry in advertising execution, message and delivery.

“Our goal is to communicate the overriding need to focus on energy and environmental issues that will confront policy leaders in the next decade. Nuclear energy must be part of the portfolio of electric options that fuels economic growth and helps secure energy independence,” said Scott Peterson, NEI’s senior vice president of communications.

“Our experience and research tell us that, while people have questions about safety influenced by Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi accident, they are eager to engage in a broader conversation about nuclear energy’s role in a world that needs electricity to improve standards of living and that wants that electricity to come from affordable, reliable, low-carbon sources.”

To communicate this message, NEI will use two-dimensional artistry in a television spot to tell the story of why nuclear energy is needed to generate low-carbon electricity around the clock. The look of the television spot is carried over to the print and online ad concepts. The campaign combines traditional media, social media outreach and a mobile-optimized advertising campaign designed to engage a broader audience in recognizing the crucial role nuclear energy plays in generating:
•electricity for one of every five U.S. homes and businesses
•70 percent of the U.S. electricity supply that comes from low-carbon sources
•electricity industry-leading reliability and at an average production cost (fuel and operations and maintenance expenses) of about two cents per kilowatt-hour.

One year after the earthquake, tsunami and ensuing accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power station, public and political support has remained strong for the construction of new nuclear energy plants in the United States.

“We have not wavered in our commitment to safety at America’s nuclear energy facilities,” Peterson said. “Along with enhancing that safety, now is the time to have the discussion about the need to begin building new reactors to meet growing electricity demand and protect our air quality.

“Four advanced-designed nuclear energy reactors are in the early phases of construction in Georgia and South Carolina and are creating thousands of jobs,” Peterson said. “We’re building on the next generation of nuclear energy here in America rather than exporting these jobs to China and other countries. But far more needs to be done if we hope to continue to receive one-fifth of our electricity from nuclear energy and increase that in the future.”

The advertising campaign will focus on policymakers and opinion leaders in the Washington, D.C., region.

The campaign was created by NEI’s agency Smith & Harroff Inc. of Alexandria, Va., with animation provided by the Manhattan-based visual effects studio Spontaneous.


The first NEI ad spot for air on television is available on YouTube. Click Here. This video is also the featured video at APR's YouTube channel - link in the right margin bar.

2:55 PM Eastern Monday March 19, 2012


  1. I don't want to sound a party-popper or an insatiable perfectionist, but this NEI PSA's lame. Worst, it rather insults the viewer and mocks its own sponsor with its childish address of a sober major issue. Look, the 800 pound gorilla wrench in the way of public acceptance of nuclear energy isn't economics or environment but the SAFETY/DEATH bogeyman, and you shy that at your own peril -- as if nuclear energy wasn't in enough! Instead of playing coy (to some, evasive), NEI should've taken the bull by the horns and played the comparative industry mortality card -- a stark factual language anyone can understand. In that one minute the PSA could've pointed out that since nukes were fired up in 1942 less people were killed — including accidents — in nuclear-electric generation than in a single airliner crash, yet during the same period almost a hundred thousand oil, gas and coal workers and public and neighborhoods near THEIR far more frequent accidents were destroyed. Could've mentioned those in Japan complaining nuclear safety is a “myth” are cluelessly looking a gift horse in the mouth what zero deaths and public property damage in after three nukes met the rare wrath of God twice — and guess what such punishment would’ve reeked to oil and gas facilities. It could've stressed that it’s not just oil, gas and coal accidents that are of concern, but also the regular emissions of their daily operations (something that turns anti-nuke health concerns into hypocrites). Instead NEI took the safe lazy route and created a spot fit for a junior high audience. No, I'm really not being harsh. If you present a serious issue in a professional and adult manner, you often get a little respect and consideration back, even from hostiles. If you leave your audience feeling they're fourth-graders no more informed of the guts of the issue than before, then you deserve the derision -- and worst, fresh scorn and skepticism from those you're supposedly trying to enlighten. In other words, your rep's worst off than before. BIG miss, NEI. Scrap it and be PROFESSIONAL and gutsy next time! The other side is no way going to be as soft on exterminating you!

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  2. @James: Thanks for your serious feedback! I will pass it along. For the moment -- and remember, I don't speak for NEI, myself -- I do rather like this first approach. It's right along the lines of what "green energy" is doing - except it's different in the sense that nuclear CAN deliver KWh reliably to the grid, all day, every day while solar / wind cannot. I am myself rather sure this isn't the whole of the campaign. And.. as for what the "other side" might do to try to exterminate nuclear... well, let's just say that some of the more famous of them have found out in this last year that we're not kidding any more. I could drop names and give details, but they've all appeared here and at other pro-nuclear blogs. They already know we aren't kidding, and they will realize that this ad is targeted at the widest possible audience. I can't see that this would be perceived as a sign of weakness to them. After all -- they know who the real rat killers are in the pro-nuclear world.

  3. The NEI knows, but doesn't mention, that in two or three decades, breeder reactors with closed fuel cycles will be wall-to-wall, as the only way to supply sustainable base load electricity.

    By then we all ought to fervently hope that Molten Salt Breeder Reactors have developed to the point where LMFBRs are sunk out of sight. See: http://lftrsuk.blogspot.co.uk/p/benefits-of-lftrs.html

  4. I agree totally with James. I saw the advert as nothing more than a feel good waste of money and air time. Fluff. You might convince the 'blondes' out there with it.
    Here in Oz we have the same sort of 'fluff' on our TV's at the moment telling us how mining benefits the community. (The mining barons out here are fighting against a tax that would redistribute some of their rapid wealth to the wider community)
    Prior to that it was similar adverts telling us how clubs were doing great things for the community (they were fighting tooth and nail against a tax on their huge poker machine profits that are causing problem gamblers and family distress)

  5. My other 20c worth of opinion - you nuclear folk need to stop banging on about the evils of wind turbines and solar farms. Belittling them only adds to your opponents. Your real opponent is public belief that nuclear is bad - full stop. The public need education that nuclear is an 'acceptable level of risk', does real positive stuff in the global warming / climate change arena and is reliable and cheap.

  6. @Keith: Well, the wind and solar guys keep trying to find evils of nuclear energy, right? The answer: Yes, they do. They play into our hands when they try to get YOU to believe that there's always just the right amount of wind, it's always daylight with no clouds... and there are cupcakes and happy kids everywhere because of wind and solar power!

    Our REAL opponent is lack of education on how energy generation and transmission really works. But we're working on that. Some of us faster than others... but we're working on it. If you want to see the most pointed of efforts check out the blog post I made targeting Greenpeace today. THOSE are the guys that get away with saying anything, normally, with no fact checking or vetting. Until now.

    In the final analysis, the evils of wind and solar are ultimately that they don't come anywhere close to solving wide-scale energy generating problems. People are being led to believe that if they'll just invest... or let the US Government invest (and we see how that is working out - Solyndra! - and how much money we've lost) then everything will work out and everyone will have more than enough power. Hogwash! You can't replace baseload generating capacity with a few scattered wind turbines and solar panels. You also can't transmit electricity across the entire nation, either. So you have to have large, powerful, and distributed base load generating plants. There's no hope of going back to the 50's and 60's here with rural / co-op power companies.

    The evils that wind and solar spread are their lies... both explicit and implicit. When the gravy train halts, the noise from them will stop; the more solar company failures there are in the US, the sooner that will happen. Thankfully.

  7. @Will: I feel there is room for all solar, wind and nuclear.

    I notice you infer the waste of money being invested in propping up wind and solar. Didn't the government pour huge amounts into the nuclear industry getting it going? Does it still contribute with failed schemes like the waste depository? How much money does the US government currently spend on nuclear? I seem to remember reading about very large amounts of public money being spent on systems that 'seemed like a good idea at the time'.

    The reality is that ALL the alternatives to fossil fuel require big government help to become viable. Its not that newer energy sources are expensive, its that we don't value our fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are too cheap. The public see them as a 'magic pudding'.

    If you want to make the point that wind and solar can't do the trick then I suggest you start pointing out how much land area would have to be devoted to them to provide say 40% of your current electricity demand. Measure it in areas of states. Square miles and acres etc means little to the ones that need educating.

    Be generous with the availability figures so they can't come back at you, use their availability figures even.

    Then start pointing out how electricity demand is going to soar with increased electric vehicles or production of mobile fuels.

    PS: Keep up the great work with the explanations on your blog. They are very clearly written and I'm learning all the time about nuclear.

  8. @Keith: The government did pour money in at the beginning - but we might note that nothing such as the $500-$600 Billion dollar Solyndra failure occurred. And there have been more subsidized solar company failures in the last 12 months as well, pushing the figure for Federal dollars lost totally with no return whatsoever even higher. The attempt to shove short term availability, low MWe output generating sources down the throats of utility companies who are paid to deliver the maximum MWe around the clock for minimum cost per KW/h (nuclear here is about two cents per KW/h) is a failure. Now, if the government provides subsidy to END USERS .. say, property owners, building owners... to install solar and help reduce grid demand at times that way, fine. But giant solar and wind farms aren't going to make a dent in fossil, nuclear or hydroelectric.

    We've already heard the ruckus up in Vermont over wind power. Seems that this summer everyone who was crying to get Vermont Yankee shut down started screaming when the utility company announced its plan to flatten about ten miles or so of mountain ridge line, and build major construction roads up there too in order to build some of the wind capacity they'd need. It got some good press for a short while over here.

    And I've done some of the things you say, Keith- I'm always "that guy at the table" who points out that neither electric cars or hydrogen powered cars are workable overall societally unless you have nuclear to provide energy for battery charging or for electrolytic dissociation of water. Sometimes I get some headway by pointing that out, too!

    Thanks for the compliment; I always try very hard to get the real facts about nuclear technology out there so that informed people can make up their own minds about whether or not we know what we're doing!

  9. @Will: All I can find about Solyandra is a $535 million bailout, not billion.

    Your March 10 posting mentioned federal funds of $51.25 million for Hallam Nuclear station in 1958. Using http://www.calculator.net/inflation-calculator.html? it shows that would be $411 million in 2012 dollars. In my book that's ball park comparable to Solyandra. (Not that I'm in any way justifying what happened there)

    Sorry to be an argumentative old PITA.

  10. @Keith - You're right - that is a typo! Now, when we put money into nuclear plants back then, we gained invaluable evidence into the operation of future plants. I have reams of information here that were gained from the design, testing and operation of Hallam. Had this country not become all cuddly eco-"aware" and scrapped the plans to build, first, the Clinch River Breeder Reactor and then production follow ons to close the nuclear fuel cycle that experience would have been invaluable. Dumping about 600 million (and I believe that was the final figure the Federal government was in for, although I'll have to check - there was more than one loan but I am not at this early hour certain whether Solyndra took them all) into something that just shuts down and fires all its workers with practically no manufactured product, no power generation, no succeeding company is insanity. So actually it isn't comparable at all. The solar energy funding is and will continue to be a black hole for OUR tax dollars until it's put in the right place - funding and thus enticing the end users, not the manufacturers. I've said this for some time now but no one in any part of any industry seems to be listening, since there isn't as much big money in my totally workable concept.

  11. What worries me about solar and wind today is that the state of the renewables industry now reminds me a lot of what I've read about the state of the nuclear industry in the early 60s: the beginning of a massive bandwagon market driven, not by technical and financial realities, but by a utopian vision of the future and the hope by powerful players to gain a commanding lead in what they assume will ultimately be a large market. This worries me because, while I think nuclear energy is probably our best bet in the short and long term, I want a backup technology in case it proves to be impossible to make breeder reactors cost-effective by the time we start running out of cheap uranium. I'm concerned solar will ultimately end up discrediting itself when rosy cost projections fail to materialize, just like nuclear did in the 70s.

    There are obviously differences between the two situations. In particular, the minimum size of solar installations is a lot smaller than nuclear, and they take a lot less time to build, so it's more likely the "learning effect" will actually work. And, at least at present, there doesn't appear to be the same level of regulatory or political risk - the people picketing solar and wind generators just don't seem to have the same gusto as the anti-nuclear picketers. On the other hand, renewables also have other failings not present in nuclear, which I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone of. But I think the two situations have a lot more in common then renewables' advocates would like to admit. And, as somebody who believes in hedging his bets, that worries me.

  12. @Mark: Unfortunately, the history of the early nuclear energy era today is largely represented by anti-nuclear folk who would have you believe exactly as you do; the realities are different, and much more nuanced. I am beginning to knock down these modernist (and revisionist) tales one by one on this blog, but it takes time. For now, suffice it to say that everyone inside the nuclear industry KNEW through the early 1960's that nuclear energy was not cost competitive and would not be for some time. However, the utility companies along with the AEC (who knew all too well the success with Navy reactors) were sure that nuclear would become economically viable, then comparable, and then eventually vastly superior to fossil fuel and they stuck with it. Stories of nuclear being shoved on the utilities are wholly falsehoods. It should be noted how slowly the orders for large central station nuclear plants really took off (and I think maybe I've mentioned this before) in the early 60's - the rush to go nuclear didn't start until the middle-late 1960's. Cost projections about nuclear in many locations worked out just fine; utility companies who took low bids on architect-engineer firms with no previous nuclear experience often were the ones who experienced massive cost overruns and delays. Of course, the plants that came in on time and at or near budget didn't make the press in the anti-nuclear press of the 70's ... only the sad tales did.

    I would like to thank you for your very insightful and thought provoking comments! Your comments do ring true in a number of ways.