BY ANGELJEAN CHIARAMIDA
---- — SEABROOK — Standing in the middle of the simulated control room at Seabrook Station yesterday, N.H. Gov. Maggie Hassan watched intently as plant employees were put through their paces at a training exercise mimicking life in the nerve center of a nuclear power plant.
As part of the training regiment at NextEra Energy Seabrook, control room teams cycle through intense simulations to ensure they can meet any possible occurrence at the 1,247-megawatt power plant, fueled by nuclear material, that provide enough electricity to the grid to power 1.2 million homes.
“During training sessions, we handle anything from down power to every accident imaginable,” said Matthew Arsenault, control room shift manager for one of six teams, in for week-long training during Hassan’s visit. Teams rotate through training every six weeks and complete a one-week program.
Hassan was at the plant for a double mission. First, to witness the extensive training that plant employees undergo regularly, but also to comment on a recently released report on the economic benefit the power plant brings to the Seacoast region and the state of New Hampshire.
“I look forward to reading the report,” Hassan told a crowd of media and plant staff, adding she enjoyed the opportunity to get a firsthand look at the “important and thoughtful” training that goes on at the plant.
Hassan said that, as an Exeter resident and the former state senator for Seabrook’s district, she was well acquainted with the plant’s financial impact on the state in the area of employment, as well as the commitments its employees make to their jobs, plant safety and Seacoast communities.
“Seabrook Station is a job creator and an important part of our state’s diverse energy portfolio,” Hassan said. “Having represented this area in the state Senate, I have long appreciated Seabrook’s workers for their dedication and commitment to safety, and it is clear that the plant’s hard-working men and women will continue to play an important role in our state’s energy future.”
The economic impact report was produced by the Nuclear Energy Institute based on an analysis of financial data from 2011 provided by NextEra. The statement indicates a positive annual impact on of $535 million to the state of New Hampshire, according to the report, as well as a broader economic effect of close to $1 billion when Massachusetts is included in the equation.
According to comments quoted in a press release from NEI Vice President Richard Myers, “The study confirms that Seabrook is vitally important in strengthening regional and state economies through job creation, tax payments, direct and secondary spending.”
A NextEra chart accompanying the report shows the Seabrook Station supports 2,600 total jobs in New Hampshire, 650 of which are direct employee at the power plant, with about 1980 indirect jobs supported by the plant through its purchase of goods and services.
The earning power of Seabrook Station employees is significantly higher than the county averages. According to the report, of the 346 plant employee who live in Rockingham County, the average earnings is $109,340 per person, and of the 155 employees who live in Stafford County average $138,560. The average earnings in the workforce in Rockingham and Strafford counties are listed as $47,080 and $45,520 respectively, in the report.
In 2011, according to the report, Seabrook Station’s expenditures within Rockingham and Stafford counties in New Hampshire and Essex County in Massachusetts totaled $133 million, or 43 percent of the plant’s total spending for the year, which equaled $312 million.
Included in the report is stimulus factor called the “ripple effect” plant spending has in the region.
“For every dollar of output from Seabrook (Station), the local economy produces $1.34, while New Hampshire and Massachusetts economies produce $1.39 and $1,10, respectively.”
The Nuclear Energy Institute is “the policy organization of the nuclear energy and technology industries,” according to its website. The NEI is involved in national and global policy making, which includes providing legislative support for the nuclear industry.
“NEI’s objective is to ensure the formation of policies that promote the beneficial uses of nuclear energies and technologies in the United States and around the world,” according to its website.