The challenges facing nuclear energy in the United States are mounting. Just a decade ago there were predictions that nuclear power was poised for a renaissance, but the sector is struggling to stave off decline. Plants are closing and there are no plans for any large-scale new projects. 

In this episode of the Columbia Energy Exchange, host Bill Loveless sits down with Maria Korsnick, the president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s trade association in Washington, D.C. A nuclear engineer by training, Maria joined NEI two years ago from Exelon Corp., where she was senior vice president for Northeast Operations, responsible for nuclear plants in Maryland and New York. Before that, she was the chief nuclear officer and acting CEO at Constellation Energy Nuclear Group.

Maria and Bill talked about the early retirements of nuclear power plants and the efforts by states and the Trump administration to prevent more reactors from going off-line. They also explored the extent to which nuclear power’s reputation for carbon-free emissions could become a bigger rallying cry for the industry as the outlook for addressing climate change darkens. The discussion also touched upon whether Republicans and Democrats in Congress might put aside partisan differences in 2019 to agree on steps to promote nuclear power, including the development of small modular reactors, given the results of the midterm elections.