Saturday, December 19, 2015

Did NEI's Fertel Get Canned Over Budget Cutting Ideal

They need the next generation to take over. A good looking interesting young women needs to become the next NEI CEO.
US nuclear power trade group head to retire in 2016 
By Steven Dolley and William Freebairn | December 18, 2015 06:00 AM 
A new leader will head the US nuclear power industry’s powerful trade group when Marvin Fertel, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute since 2008, retires at the end of 2016. 
The nuclear industry, facing escalating economic challenges and rising operating costs, could tap an executive with Exelon, the largest merchant nuclear plant operator, to succeed him, Fertel said. He first revealed his retirement plans in an exclusive interview with Platts December 16.
Fertel, 69, said NEI’s board of directors has been notified of his decision and a search firm will provide a list of candidates for his replacement to the group’s executive committee. 
Maria Korsnick, NEI’s chief operating officer since mid-2014, “will be certainly one of the prime candidates in that search,” Fertel said. 
“I’m getting tremendous benefit from having her here working with me,” he said. 
“It’s a great asset to this organization having Maria work with us now, and it will be a tremendous asset if she gets the job, in that she’ll have so much experience with what NEI does, as well as all the great background that she has,” Fertel said. “We look at it as a really good thing.”
Fertel noted, however, that he will not make the decision on his successor. 
Natural gas brings clear benefits to New England Massachusetts’s 1970s moment (ANGA)

Massachusetts’s 1970s moment

On April 18, 1977 America was in the midst of an energy crisis and President Jimmy Carter delivered a televised speech encouraging energy conservation. It was a smart idea, and he famously wore a cardigan sweater on-air to drive home the point that even the White House was turning down the heat.
How times have changed. Thirty-eight years later, America largely controls its own energy future. In fact, American produced energy has changed the global energy picture in a fundamental way –  thanks to innovations that tapped our abundant natural gas supplies – lowering  costs for consumers, reinvigorating American manufacturing and reshaping how our leaders think about generating the energy we’ll need for continued economic growth.
The magnitude of economic growth, specifically in the New England region, relies largely on how this clean-burning natural gas will be transported from the Pennsylvania shale fields to the region’s consumers and businesses. The governors of the six New England states understand this, and are rowing in the same direction, strongly supporting efforts to get new, much needed pipeline infrastructure built in the region.
Which is why it’s curious that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey took a trip in the way-back machine to grab a page from the 1970s energy playbook last month. That’s when Healey released the results of a study she commissioned finding that Massachusetts didn’t need additional natural gas infrastructure but instead could make due by increasing energy efficiency and encouraging electricity customers to scale back their use. The Attorney General appears to argue that Massachusetts doesn’t need more natural gas infrastructure and instead should don the proverbial cardigan, turn down the heat and conserve more.
The Attorney General’s report, and her position against the need for more natural gas infrastructure, is troubling for several reasons.  First, the study only looked at the electric power market, ignoring the needs of local natural gas utilities struggling to meet increased demand for natural gas from residents and businesses seeking to switch from oil to natural gas.
Second, the Attorney General’s report appears to ignore the environmental benefits that natural gas is bringing to the region, and will continue to do so. That’s because Massachusetts and regional utilities are meeting clean air targets by replacing coal and oil fired power plants with cleaner burning natural gas plants. But the lack of pipelines to get the natural gas where it’s needed will force Massachusetts to delay the opportunity for cleaner burning energy to keep up with freezing temperatures.
While everyone supports energy conservation – after all, it’s  good for both our planet and our wallets – we also must allow for continued economic growth.  The good news is that with natural gas we don’t have to choose between the two. Greater use of natural gas is reducing emissions and driving more efficient manufacturing while lowering energy costs for businesses and homes alike.
The reality is that businesses that can relocate or expand outside of New England are warning that the region’s high energy costs jeopardize their continued operations. High energy costs also can result in manufacturers shutting down or curtailing operations, and consumers, who have seen household incomes stay flat for a decade, are being hit by energy prices that are increasingly difficult to afford.
The benefits of natural gas for New England are clear:  more energy, fewer emissions, more jobs and lower energy costs. Fortunately, New England governors are working together to promote greater prosperity in the region by advancing infrastructure investment to get more natural gas to consumers. A more constructive option for the Massachusetts Attorney General, therefore, would be to join with other New England leaders to advance the region’s shared economic, energy and environmental goals with new natural gas infrastructure and other transmission projects

Prior to joining NEI, Korsnick was senior vice president of Exelon’s Northeast operations and acting chief executive officer and chief nuclear officer of Constellation Energy Nuclear Group. She is also executive director of the US nuclear power industry’s Fukushima Steering Committee, which is responsible for coordinating with the NRC the industry’s activities in response to lessons learned from the Fukushima I accident in Japan in 2011. Korsnick joined NEI in 2014. 

Before Fertel joined NEI’s predecessor organization, the US Council for Energy Awareness, in 1990, he held positions at Ebasco, Management Analysis Company and Tenera. 

He became vice president of nuclear economics and fuel supply at NEI when the organization was formed in 1994, and he was named senior vice president and chief nuclear officer in 2003. Fertel became acting president and CEO in 2008 before being elected permanently to the position by NEI’s board in 2009. 

During Fertel’s tenure, among other efforts, NEI has supported the licensing and construction of five new nuclear power units in the US. After the Barack Obama administration canceled in 2010 DOE’s project to build a geological repository for spent fuel and nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, NEI successfully sued the department in federal court to halt the collection of a fee imposed on nuclear-generated electricity to build the Nuclear Waste Fund that would have been used to pay for that project. 

NEI has also advocated for low-carbon portfolio standards and other policies to assist merchant nuclear power plants facing economic challenges from low natural gas and power prices, and coordinated enhancements of nuclear power plants’ ability to mitigate severe accidents similar to that at Fukushima under its Flex initiative. 

Fertel took the helm of NEI at the height of talk about a “nuclear renaissance” in the US, spurred by expectations of strong growth in demand as well as government support for new plants. Fertel saw those hopes sharply diminished as an economic contraction followed by a historic drop in the price of natural gas sent power prices plunging and reduced the need for new generation. In the past three years, Fertel and NEI have faced announcements that seven nuclear units in the US would shut. Just this year, Entergy has said it will close its Pilgrim and FitzPatrick units in Massachusetts and New York, respectively, because of financial challenges faced by merchant nuclear plants. Those units rely on wholesale market rates for electricity, which have tumbled, to make profits. 

The support for Korsnick, an executive at the largest US merchant nuclear unit operator, reflects the importance that the problems of the merchant fleet represents for the industry. 

She has recently been at the forefront of industry efforts to spread awareness of the issues facing the industry, and earlier this month she outlined an industry-wide initiative to improve the economics of nuclear plants by reducing costs and increasing revenue. 

Fertel’s departure from NEI had been rumored for years.

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