OUR OPINION: Nuclear power plant idea deserves study

Now that Duane Sand is not running for office, maybe North Dakotans will start listening to him. Let's hope so. Because Sand's back, and he's re-introducing a fascinating idea that's truly "in his wheelhouse," to use the maritime term that fits w...

Our Opinion
Our Opinion

Now that Duane Sand is not running for office, maybe North Dakotans will start listening to him.

Let’s hope so.

Because Sand’s back, and he’s re-introducing a fascinating idea that’s truly “in his wheelhouse,” to use the maritime term that fits well with Sand’s Navy background.

It’s the notion that utilities should build a nuclear power plant in the Red River Valley. The move would jolt the region’s economy with not only 1,500 megawatts of electricity but also 10,000 jobs.

And as mentioned, Sand’s message this time around is not clouded by the rhetoric of his running for Congress - a task he never was well suited for anyway.


So, let’s hope his idea gets a better hearing than it did when he presented it in 2011, during his failed campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Because regardless of what you think of Sand as a politician, he is without peer in North Dakota on the subject of nuclear energy.

And if he thinks a nuclear power plant here could be a going concern, North Dakotans should listen.

As mentioned in the Q&A with Sand in today’s ThreeSixty feature , Sand is a captain in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He has spent his Navy career as a “nuke” - a nuclear submarine officer, perhaps the world’s most respected background for a professional in the nuclear energy field.

And when Sand looks at the commercial nuclear-power industry - a field that he also has worked in as a civilian - he sees opportunity. That’s because while America’s need for nuclear power is growing, our nation’s capacity to produce it is diminishing.

Those two trends can’t continue forever. In fact, a nuclear “renaissance” may already be underway, as the first new commercial nuclear-power plants in 30 years now are being built in the Southeast.

More such plants are in America’s future, almost without a doubt.  

And one of them, Sand declares, should be built in North Dakota.


“Is Sand right?”, the Herald asked in an editorial on this topic in 2012.

“That’s what the state and federal governments should find out,” the editorial concluded - and the conclusion stands.

“Plenty of questions remain about nuclear energy and its prospects nationwide. But as those questions are answered, let’s find out whether a valley nuclear power plant could be part of the mix.”

Sand’s proposal didn’t move too many voltmeter needles when he presented it a few years ago. But it was a bold and intriguing idea then, and it remains just as bold and intriguing today.

This time, local residents and, especially, North Dakota and Minnesota utilities should give Sand’s proposal the close attention it deserves.

- Tom Dennis for the Herald  

Related Topics: RED RIVER VALLEY
Opinion by Thomas Dennis
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