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7 of 10 Americans Consider Nuclear Power Plants Reliable; Three-Fourths Support Federal/Industry Collaboration on New Reactors

Brief

May 19, 2004

Reliability of America’s nuclear power plants may be a factor in the growing public support for nuclear energy, a new national public opinion poll suggests.
The opinion survey, conducted April 16-18, 2004, found that 72 percent of Americans consider their nearest nuclear power plant reliable. Only 14 percent called this plant unreliable; 15 percent were uncertain.

The poll also found that 74 percent agree that the U.S. Department of Energy and electric companies should work together to develop state-of-the-art nuclear power plants that can be built to meet new electricity demand.

The April survey was conducted for Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) by Bisconti Research, Inc. with NOP World (formerly RoperASW). The latest survey and trends are all based on telephone interviews with nationally representative samples of 1,000 U.S. adults age 18 and older. The margin of error in these surveys is plus or minus three percentage points.

Public support for nuclear energy has been increasing in recent years and reached a high point in April on two trended questions. Two-thirds of Americans favor nuclear energy (65 percent), and about two-thirds also would accept a new nuclear power plant at the site of the nearest existing plant if more electricity were needed (64 percent). Both figures equal the record highs at the time of the California energy problems in 2001.

Focus groups for NEI indicate that electricity reliability is a concern today, especially in the context of instability in the Middle East, the blackout in 2003, and the rising cost of natural gas.