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February 20, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Powering Prosperity: the Economic Impact of the Southeastern Nuclear Industry

The nuclear industry stands poised to play a central role in shaping the region's economic landscape for years to come.

E4 Carolinas, the trade association representing energy companies and organizations in the Carolinas, recently unveiled the Southeast Nuclear Industry Economic Report. This comprehensive analysis sheds light on the pivotal role of the Southeastern United States in domestic nuclear energy production and its economic impact on the region.

The Southeastern states listed as having the largest impact in the report were Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. These five are the leaders in nuclear energy production, accounting for approximately 37 percent of net electricity production in the region. This percentage surpasses that of most other U.S. states and exceeds the national average of about 19 percent. Notably, nuclear power represents the largest source of clean energy in the United States, signifying its critical role in meeting clean energy goals and fostering sustainable development strategies.

Dr. Wes Hines, the Head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), and a member of the Tennessee Nuclear Energy Advisory Council appointed by Governor Bill Lee, weighed in on the report during an interview with

“I think one of the main goals of our Governor being pro-nuclear is to give the citizens of Tennessee these fabulous, high-paying jobs that are competitive, sustainable, and lead to a great quality of life,” Hines said.

Nuclear sites across the Southeast

Supporting Hines, the report underscores the significant economic contributions of the nuclear industry to the region, estimating its annual economic impact at a staggering $42.9 billion. This impact translates into 152,598 jobs, $13.7 billion in labor income, and an average salary of $89,972. This wage premium reflects the industry’s commitment to providing quality employment opportunities to local workers.

In Tennessee specifically, there is a $9.8 billion economic impact and 40,286 jobs.

“The jobs in the nuclear energy sector are only the tip of the iceberg,” Hines said. “If the nuclear industry and investment wasn’t here, other high-paying jobs wouldn’t be here.”

The report mentions the “employment multiplier effect,” indicating that for every 10 jobs created in the nuclear industry, an additional 18 jobs are generated elsewhere in the region.

“You have to have the nuclear to have everything else,” he said.

Finally, the study estimates that for every $100 in revenue generated by a new nuclear power plant in the five-state region, approximately $200 in total economic output would be created, representing a 2:1 ratio.

Hines said education is the most important part of the report. He wants the public to be educated on the economic impacts of nuclear.

“We hope it can start getting people, families, and children to start talking about nuclear at the dinner table and in the classroom. We need to engage young people on clean energy,” Hines said. “They are the workforce of the future.”

The Southeast Nuclear Industry Economic Report showed that nuclear energy is driving economic growth, job creation, and clean energy production across the Southeastern United States. The nuclear industry stands poised to play a central role in shaping the region’s economic landscape for years to come.

Read more from the report on the E4 website.

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