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Lights On: Future Brings Major Changes To Nuclear Energy Industry

BOSTON (CBS) – The nuclear power industry is working to hold its own in the ever changing electric power landscape.

Despite the addition of five new plants, including the Watts Bar Plant in Tennessee, the nuclear energy industry continues to suffer in certain parts of the country. Vermont Yankee in Vernon, Vermont is one of five plants to shut down in the past three years.

Here in Massachusetts, the Pilgrim Nuclear Station is only licensed through 2032.

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Bill Mohl, President of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, which owns Pilgrim Nuclear Station in Plymouth, supports America's nuclear energy use.

"We think it's very important that the regions and the US in general at a minimum maintain their existing nuclear, because of the value it provides from a reliability perspective," said Mohl.

David Noyes, Director of Regulatory and Performance Improvement at Pilgrim Nuclear Station, also sees advantages to nuclear power.

"It's very predictable with respect to providing energy to the New England power grid—it's essentially carbon free emissions," said Noyes.

But Mohl says that the situation differs for the northeast, where markets are the most competitive. He believes supporting a new plant in this area would be impossible.

"You simply could not recover your costs," said Mohl.

However, New England Power Generators Association President Dan Dolan remains optimistic about the industry.

"This is about as wonky and nerdy an industry as you can get, but I love this stuff," he said. "We're seeing tremendous new innovations In technologies, and it's always great when you're building stuff."

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The future for nuclear energy is unclear, but both providers and customers are currently working on ways to become more energy "savvy".

EnerNOC, an energy intelligence software provider has developed software for building operators who want to buy energy differently and cut their energy bills.

"What we're helping them do is identify schedules and set points which should be changed so that their lights are off on the weekends and that the temperatures are at the right settings," said Tim Healy, CEO of EnerNOC.

Healy says it's an exciting time to be involved in the energy ecosystem, and predicts it will become increasingly efficient over an increasingly short period of time.

This is Part 3 of Mary Blake's week-long 'Light's On' series on the state of energy in Massachusetts.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Mary Blake reports

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