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Article posted: 7/15/2013 5:00 AM

Nuclear power vital to our economy

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It's no secret that Illinois continues to face significant challenges to creating, attracting and retaining jobs. But amid discussion of tax rates, regulation, pension reform and infrastructure improvement, there is one relatively constant asset that helps keep Illinois competitive -- a reliable, abundant and cost-competitive supply of electricity.

To maintain this advantage, Illinois relies heavily on its fleet of nuclear power generating stations. Illinois has more nuclear power generation than any state in the union, and nearly 45 percent of Illinois' electricity is produced by nuclear.

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Two of Illinois' generating stations, in Byron and Braidwood, have applied for a 20-year renewal of their operating licenses with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It is crucial for the business community to strongly support these applications.

Whether or not you agree with President Obama's recent push on making America a leader in reducing carbon emissions, every kind of energy generation is looking to improve its costs, efficiency, reliability and, yes, its carbon footprint. While coal and gas remain viable and important sources of electricity and our renewable sector continues to grow, Illinois' nuclear industry combines capacity, reliability and efficiency without any carbon emissions. At the same time, nuclear generation employs thousands of Illinoisans and injects billions into our state's economy every year.

It doesn't take a nuclear physicist to figure out that a diverse, reliable supply of electricity will create a cost-competitive supply that our economy needs to thrive. If our economy was the top of a stool, the four legs that would keep it from wobbling would be nuclear, cleaner coal, natural gas and renewable energy -- with additional support through efficiency and conservation activities.

Therefore, as energy policy evolves, we can and should continue to rely on the abundant, safe and cost-effective nuclear power supply to power our economy forward.

Doug Whitley

President and CEO

Illinois Chamber of Commerce

Springfield

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