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Letter to Governor Roberts of Rhode Island on the Establishment of Atomic Reactor Generating Plants in New England.

October 18, 1955

[Released October 18, 1955. Dated October 17, 1955]

Dear Governor Roberts:

Thank you for telling me in your letter of September 27th of the views of the New England Governors on the establishment of atomic reactor generating plants in New England. I fully appreciate their keen interest in reducing the cost of generating electric power in the New England area.

As the Atomic Energy Commission has pointed out, nuclear power will not immediately provide low cost power. The one nuclear power plant now under construction and the six others in various stages of design are experimental types and are not expected to produce power at a cost as low as a modern conventional plant. How closely their costs will approach those of conventional production of electrical energy and which of the six types of atomic power plants is the best will not be known, of course, until they have been in operation over a period of time. Justification for their construction in view of their noncompetitive costs necessarily rests upon the contribution they will make to power reactor technology.

The AEC program for the development of nuclear power plant technology was based on the expectation that industry would accept a substantial share of the responsibility and cost for the development. Invitations to industry to participate in this program were first issued in January 1955, and it was in response to this invitation that the proposal from Yankee Atomic Electric Company was submitted. Although the original Yankee proposal was unacceptable, a revised proposal has been received and will be acted upon by the Commission promptly after completion of the technical evaluation now being made.

In view of the favorable response from industry to the first invitation to submit proposals, a second invitation was issued on September 21, 1955. It provides a second means by which New England can obtain a power reactor, and I am enclosing a copy of it for your reference. A third means of obtaining a power reactor for New England would be through construction and operation by a private group without assistance from the Federal Government after applying for and receiving a license for this purpose from the AEC. Two utilities, one in New York and one in Pennsylvania, have already announced their intention of pursuing this course.

Even though nuclear power is not yet competitive, the AEC and many segments of industry believe that eventually it will be. With this in mind, it would certainly seem wise to give all reasonable encouragement to those organizations interested in advancing the development of atomic power in the New England area.

I am sure that representatives of the AEC would be glad to discuss this matter with you or with other members of the Governors' Conference, and to be of such assistance as may be appropriate.

With best wishes,



Note: This letter was released at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colo.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Letter to Governor Roberts of Rhode Island on the Establishment of Atomic Reactor Generating Plants in New England. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233641

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