A new threat could be looming for consumers' wallets, as the electric grid transitions from coal to natural gas, making nuclear power less economical, according to a new report on the economic benefits of nuclear energy.
"Absent nuclear, consumers would pay more for electricity, the economy would suffer both in terms of [gross domestic product] and jobs, and we would face substantially higher emissions of [carbon dioxide] and other pollutants," the study finds, citing natural gas as a primary threat to nuclear's survival. The study was done by the consulting firm Brattle for the pro-nuclear group Nuclear Matters.
The low cost of natural gas, due to a boon in shale gas production, has made nearly every other form or electricity less economical, undermining nuclear, renewables and coal-fired power.
Natural gas is now the dominant fuel for electricity, beating out coal for the first time as the top source in April, according to the Energy Information Administration. The U.S. is also now the top producer of natural gas in the world.