As we ponder the imminent changes to Plum Island ["Act now to preserve Plum Island," Opinion, May 10], what use of the property could match the benefit of cheap electricity production?
The price of electricity, sometimes half the cost elsewhere in the country, is such an important factor that economic growth and improved standard of living may be won or lost because of it. If a means existed to use Plum Island for this purpose, would it not be worth considering?
The Department of Energy is promoting a game-changing, clean, safe method of electricity production that could very well make such a purpose a reality. Here is a portion of its March 11, 2013, funding announcement: "Small modular reactors -- which are approximately one-third the size of current nuclear power plants -- have compact, scalable designs that are expected to offer a host of safety, construction and economic benefits. . . . The smaller size reduces both capital costs and construction times and also makes these reactors ideal for small electric grids and for locations that cannot support large reactors."
It has been estimated that a 100-megawatt reactor could cost as little as $250 million. If the federal government could provide the site at Plum Island, with grants or loans toward construction, the project may have the potential to yield huge benefits with little fiduciary risk.
Of course, several layers of government would need to work together for such a plan and it may foster the need for a new Peconic-based energy entity, replacing the Long Island Power Authority in part or all of Suffolk County. It is conceivable that electricity production may even exceed local needs, presenting the possibility of selling the excess and further reducing the price of electricity for our residents.