Blogs > Power to the People

Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Nukes On Ice

Here's a little news that gives a new meaning to the term, "Power Play": The Associated Press is reporting that the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals have added The Nuclear Energy Institute as a sponsor.

The trade group has signed a season long deal with the team to promote the advantages of nuclear energy at the Verizon Center in Washington, where the team plays, as well as in radio advertisements. Financial terms of the deal have not been released

NEI President and CEO Marv Fertel (left) with Washington Capitals Majority Owner Ted Leonsis at Kettler Iceplex, the Capitals' practice facility, located in Arlington, Virginia

The marketing marriage between the NEI and the team is an interesting one.

As has been noted in this blog in previous posts, the nuclear industry seems to feel that the time has come to test whether the stigma of the accident at the Three Mile Island power plant in Pennsylvania in 1979 still resonates with the American public 30 years later.

The joint press release from the team and the NEI notes that two utilities near Washington - Constellation Energy in Baltimore and Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Energy, which owns the Millstone nuclear plant here in Connecticut - have filed permits with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build new nuclear energy facilities.

But in partnering with an NHL hockey team, the NEI is hedging its bets.

In terms of public popularity among the nation's sports fans, the NHL runs a distant fourth behind the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. And the Capitals have finished in the lower half of the league's 30 teams in terms of attendance in all but three of the last eight seasons (the NHL didn't have a 2004-2005 season because of labor issues between the players and the teams).

So what does that mean for the NEI?

Well, for starters, it probably means that their marketing deal with the Capitals cost them a lot less than if they had tried to strike a deal with the Washington Redskins of the NFL. It also means that the NEI has limited the potential fall out from those opposed nuclear power, although the AP reports that the environmental group Greenpeace has already weighed in on the marketing partnership.

Jim Riccio, nuclear policy analyst for the Washington-based organization, told the AP that the group doesn't want sports teams being used to "greenwash" nuclear power, which it believes isn't a solution to global warming. The group says nuclear plants take years to build and methods of disposing nuclear waste haven't been developed.

"There are real solutions to climate change, unfortunately, nuclear isn't one of them," Riccio said.
"If you want to actually address climate change in a meaningful manner we need things that are fast and affordable. You're not going to see a new nuclear reactor for another decade; how is that supposed to abate climate change?"


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