Carolinas appreciate nuclear's true worth

21 November 2013

The total economic impact of the nuclear industry in North and South Carolina has been estimated to exceed at least $20 billion per year in a detailed study carried out by a team at Clemson University.

Summer 3 first concrete 460 (Scana)
Construction of two AP1000 units at the VC Summer plant in South Carolina is contibutimg to the region's economy (Image: Scana)

The study was conducted by the university's Center of Economic Excellence in Supply Chain Optimization and Logistics and was commissioned by the Carolinas Nuclear Cluster, a group of private and public sector companies, government agencies and educational institutions working together to improve the competitiveness of the nuclear industry in the two US states. Together, the Carolinas' nuclear industry includes 12 operating nuclear reactors, with four new reactors under construction, and multiple companies housed on the federal Savannah River site.

The report estimates the economic impact of the nuclear industry for the region based on those three entities and also on the nuclear industry suppliers, subcontractors and institutions that support them. It also considers the economic contribution of induced and indirect effects - for example, businesses in the community that serve local nuclear industry employees, such as grocery stores and hair salons.

Supply chain

Lead researcher Scott Mason explained that the study not only looked at the impact of the operating nuclear plants but also producers of nuclear fuel, engineering and procurement companies, suppliers and subcontractors, and others. "Residents and businesses in the Carolinas receive real economic benefits from the nuclear industry through jobs, income creation and the multiplier of spending," he said.

While 29,000 people in the Carolinas are directly employed in the nuclear industry - at the nuclear power plants, corporate nuclear functions and federal nuclear sites - the survey estimated that a further 100,000 jobs were indirectly linked with the nuclear industry, making a total nuclear payroll of $4.2 billion. However, taking into account revenue generated from nuclear businesses, expenditures on nuclear business procurement, taxes paid, expenditures associated with new nuclear plant construction and other spending, the survey estimated that the nuclear industry directly contributes some $16 billion to the regional economy. Indirect contributions are estimated at nearly $12 billion. "Using a conservative approach to mitigate potential double-counting of revenues, the nuclear industry provides a total economic impact of $20-$25 billion per year to the two-state Carolinas region," the report notes.

The results show a massive increase of over $19 billion against a previous study carried out in 2009, which the researchers say is in part attributable to the new-build projects, an influx of nuclear-related companies to the region, and the growth in community businesses to support the population increase associated with relocating nuclear industry employees. However, the authors caution against side-by-side comparisons of the two studies, as some of the assumptions behind the earlier study are unknown.

Jim Little, chair of the Carolinas Nuclear Cluster, said that the additional suppliers that had been encouraged to locate their businesses in the region could provide materials and services to both the domestic and international nuclear industry. "The Carolinas Nuclear Cluster is working to build a strong industry network because we understand this country must have a balanced generation portfolio," he said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News