Dr. Leonard Rodberg spent most of his adult life being opposed to nuclear energy. A half a dozen years ago, he abruptly changed his mind. Ever since, he has been a strong and vocal advocate for the increased use of nuclear energy. On Atomic Show #304 Len and I discuss his education, career, his changing attitudes towards nuclear energy and the important role that nuclear will play in enabling a transition away from carbon dioxide-emitting power sources.
Len is one of the founding members of a small, loud and proud pronuclear group named Nuclear New York. The group came together at the time that Governor Cuomo was approaching the fulfillment of an old political promise to close the Indian Point nuclear plant. Immediately before the two-unit facility started shutting down, it supplied more than 25% of all electricity to the downstate region of New York, home to 8-10 million people. None of that electricity released CO2 as a byproduct of its creation.
Though politicians had promised that the plant’s output would be replaced by clean power sources, the reality that Len and his associates discovered and worked hard to expose was that the New York government understood that most of the replacement electricity would be produced by two newly constructed natural gas fired power stations located on the same side of a significant transmission bottleneck as Indian Point was.
The experience gained in the belated effort to save Indian Point led Nuclear NY (@NuclearNY) to begin building larger alliances and to participate in additional efforts to support nuclear energy.
I learned about Len’s efforts when exposed to his presentation about the unreal assumptions contained in New York’s current plan for a transition to a clean energy system. His talk, given to to a group of fellow Queens College/CUNY retirees, provides a concise, well-illustrated case for the need to overtly include more nuclear energy to make the ambitious emissions reduction goals described in the plan closer to being achievable.
NYISO’s plan currently places a substantial burden on an undefined power source with characteristics that match some of advanced nuclear fission’s unique attributes. The plan calls that power source Dispatchable Emission-Free Resources (DEFRs). Since the plan also expects offshore wind, a power source that is currently supplying exactly 0 kilowatt-hours to New York’s grid, to grow to a 20% share of the market by 2040, DEFRs might need to play an even larger role than the NYISO acknowledges.
Along with Green Nuclear Deal and the Clean Energy Jobs Coalition of New York, Nuclear New York produced a report titled Bright Future: A more reliable and responsible climate plan for New York that blazes a different path than the one officially described by the state government.
Did I mention that Len is 90 years old? He’s still learning new tricks and is contributing to the continuing education of his fellow citizens.
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