Monday, February 22, 2010

Got a Presentation to Give? Get a Big Idea to Drive It

Last week’s Platts Nuclear Energy Conference here featured two solid days of speakers, many on highly technical topics such as financing new nuclear energy plants, design parameters for small nuclear plants and managing nuclear waste. Given the topics, it would have been easy for speakers to get lost in the technical details. And some did.

But the standout speakers focused on conveying just a few top-line messages in their talks, and the best of the best brought new ideas to the conference.

Concentric Energy Advisors CEO John Reed noted that unless the U.S. Department of Energy and financial markets become more open to granting loan guarantees and financing to merchant power generators, new nuclear energy plants will be built only in Southern “red” states that are served by regulated utilities. He called for actions that will provide competitive financing to merchant generators, which then can deliver clean nuclear energy to consumers throughout the nation. His visual support was just six easy-to-read slides – a huge contrast to other speakers in the session who used far more visuals, many of which were cluttered and unreadable.

Also on the topic of loan guarantees for new nuclear plants, Mike Wallace, Vice Chairman of Constellation Energy Group, recognized AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades President Mark Ayers and United Association President Bill Hite for their work in helping the guarantees become a reality. He said that without the loan guarantees that will jumpstart U.S. nuclear plant construction, U.S. manufacturers will hesitate to invest in the new manufacturing capacity and jobs for the thousands of components – from pumps to switchgear – that nuclear plants require.

NRG Energy’s president and CEO, David Crane, touted nuclear energy’s low and stable fuel cost as a significant advantage. He pointed out that a $10 billion nuclear power plant could run our plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) for about $.99 per gallon. He notably referred to nuclear energy as the methadone needed to wean us off fossil fuels.

What do all of these speakers have in common (other than their focus on nuclear energy)? Big ideas, articulated simply, compellingly and succinctly.

- Potomac Communications Group

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