The Nuclear Energy Institute, representing companies including Entergy Corp. (ETR) and Southern Co. (SO), will use the Emmy- award winning Comedy Central show starting today for an advertising campaign showing the value of atomic power a year after the triple meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.
The industry wants “to reach some of the younger audience that are helping to shape policy,” Scott Peterson, the Washington-based industry group’s senior vice president for communications, told reporters on a conference call yesterday.
NEI will double its annual advertising spending on the campaign, Peterson said, without providing specific figures. The ads will appear in the next six months in such outlets as the Washington Post, the Economist, Bloomberg Businessweek, and on “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams,” the network’s “Meet the Press,” National Public Radio and Facebook.
The NEI is joining other industry groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute, that are seeking to reach policymakers in an election year where energy policy has become a central theme. A glut of cheap natural gas has discouraged investment in other sources of electricity, and the average retail price of gasoline for the week ended March 16 reached $3.87 a gallon, the Energy Department said.
API, which represents oil companies such as ConocoPhillips (COP) of Houston and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) of Irving, Texas, today plans to start a series of commercials aimed at encouraging President Barack Obama to take action to lower gas prices, Sabrina Fang, a spokeswoman for the group, said in an e-mail.
The oil group supports congressional approval of TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration has stalled pending completion of further environmental review early next year.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission two weeks ago issued its first orders in response to the Fukushima disaster and six weeks ago awarded Southern of Atlanta a permit to build reactors, ending a 30-year drought for new projects.
“Our goal is to communicate the overriding need for nuclear energy,” which provides about 20 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S., Peterson, of the NEI, said.
NEI spent $2.18 million on lobbying in 2011, up 29 percent from its expenditures in 2010, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Expenditures for 2012, released each quarter, aren’t available.
While the industry’s message within the past year dealt with safety after the crisis in Japan, the campaign today will promote nuclear power as a reliable, low-carbon source of energy that creates jobs, he said.
About 57 percent of 1,032 Americans polled by market- research group ORC International are less supportive of nuclear power than they were before the Fukushima disaster, according to a March 7 survey released by the Civil Society Institute, the Newton, Massachusetts-based research group that commissioned the study.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said Entergy’s Indian Point plant, about 24 miles (39 kilometers) north of New York City, should be closed because of its proximity to the nation’s most populous metropolitan area, which would be difficult to evacuate in an emergency.
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