A new study, “The Economic Impact of the Nuclear Industry in the Southeast United States”, presents a comprehensive analysis of the economic impacts of the nuclear energy sector in the five-state region consisting of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The study, released by the Southeast Nuclear Advisory Council (SENAC) was conducted by E4 Carolinas, the trade association for Carolina energy companies and organisations. It was funded by a grant from the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration. It represents a collaboration between industry leaders, educational institutions, and energy nonprofits and serves as a baseline for understanding the benefits of nuclear power and its role in regional economic growth.

The five key findings of the study were:

  • The nuclear energy industry in the Southeast, encompassing Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, generates an annual economic impact of $42.9bn, directly supporting 152,598 jobs and generating $13.7bn in labour income.
  • The nuclear sector significantly contributes to state and local economies, with $3.7bn in annual tax revenues across the region.
  • The average employment multiplier effect across the region is 2.8, meaning for every ten jobs directly created by the nuclear industry, an additional 18 jobs are generated elsewhere. The nuclear industry’s employment multiplier effect is significantly higher than the average industry in these states.
  • The average wage in the nuclear industry outpaces regional averages by 65.5%, with an average wage of $89,972 across the region, underscoring the sector's role in providing high-quality employment opportunities.
  • The study highlights the preference of NPPs for sourcing a significant portion of their raw materials from local vendors. This amplifies the economic impact of NPPs, surpassing similar-sized firms in other sectors through enhanced local spending activity.

The study also reveals that nuclear power is a major component of the clean energy landscape in the U.S., especially in the Southeast, where it constitutes 42% of net electricity production, compared to the national average of 19%. The region hosts 25 of the nation’s 94 nuclear reactors and has a comprehensive network of companies, research universities, and national labs supporting the industry, including community colleges and educational programs that contribute to a skilled workforce for the nuclear industry.

“Nuclear energy is experiencing a much-welcomed revival as many states and communities across the nation reevaluate their energy landscapes to address growing energy demand and emission reductions targets,” said Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr Kathryn Huff. “New nuclear energy projects could bring considerable benefits to host communities in the form of jobs, tax incentives, and air quality, improving overall quality of life.”

Craig Stover, Senior Program Manager for Advanced Nuclear Technology at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) said the Southeastern US “has unique opportunities due to its extensive existing nuclear assets, numerous research institutions and national laboratories, and the region's commitment to innovative new nuclear technologies, which will help power the US goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050”.

Jim Little, Co-Chair, SENAC and Industry Representative, South Carolina Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council said the economic benefits reported “are only part of the picture, as nuclear energy also provides a pathway to meeting the anticipated increased demand for power and reduced carbon emissions, while maintaining the low-cost energy and reliability goals important to our region”. He added: “The southeastern U.S. is at the forefront of nuclear technology development, particularly in Generation IV nuclear technologies and small modular reactors (SMRs), heralding a new era of safety and cost-efficiency.”

As part of its recommendations and conclusions, the study underscores the need for states to establish economic development plans centred around nuclear power, emphasising that the southeastern US is uniquely positioned to capitalise on emerging technologies and opportunities in the nuclear sector. The study also encourages a broader perspective on achieving clean energy goals, suggesting greater consideration of nuclear energy and advocating for its inclusion in clean energy standards and policy discussions.


Image courtesy of SENAC