Eric Netter, VP and Construction Manager at Electrical Builders: “We wish the general public was better educated as to the truth about nuclear power”
Being the VP and Construction Manager of Electrical Builders means that Eric Netter is on call 24/7, but we managed to ask him a few questions, including which markets are helping grow the company’s nuclear services business.
Interview by Katherine Steiner-Dicks
Since 1974, Minnesota-based Electrical Builders has provided construction services to utilities, power plants, industrial customers and manufacturers. To date, they have successfully completed 2,871 projects throughout the United States and Canada. Eric Netter, the company’s VP and Construction Manager, speaks to Nuclear Energy Insider about the company’s latest work to improve the safety and maintenance of the US nuclear fleet.
Q: Within the North American nuclear energy supply and services chain, what would be Electrical Builder’s niche?
A: We specialize in providing construction, emergency repair and maintenance services to all the High Power conductor systems incorporated in the nation’s Nuclear fleet of power plants.
This involves complete turnkey service to the Isolated Phase Main Bus, Auxilliary and Tap busses as well as the non seg and cable bus systems that support ancillary systems.
Q: Which area of the nuclear sector is generating the most new business for the company?
A: Most of the new business is coming from a combination of uprates and inspection/maintenance services. Inspection and maintenance of bus duct systems is a very critical component, which up until recently, has often been overlooked.
Because the bus duct is an inert system, plant officials often do not think anything can go wrong with it. Therefore, they avoid setting aside the necessary budget to implement a thorough inspection and cleaning process, despite all manufacturers’ recommendations to inspect and clean the system every 18 to 36 months.
Q: Many congratulations on the recent completion of your Isolated Phase Bus replacement on Unit 1 of the Quad Cities Nuclear Plant owned by Exelon Nuclear. And the subsequent contract to perform similar work at Exelon’s Dresden Nuclear Plant in Morris, Illinois this autumn. Outside of these deals, how has the nuclear power industry taken up EBI’s Isolated Phase Bus inspection and maintenance service, which includes internal video inspection with real-time reports?
A: The reception has been very favorable and the importance of such services is rapidly gaining traction. Once prospective clients see examples of what can go wrong when consistent inspection, maintenance and cleaning is not implemented for their system, they quickly come to realize the value and ROI (Return On
Investment) of being proactive in this area and implementing a PDM (Predictive/Preventive Maintenance) program.
Q: Is there a degree of education required for NPP executives to get up to speed with what the service can provide, in terms of cost reductions, safety, security, etc.?
A: Yes, and we are happy to provide this information to interested parties on a case by case scenario, as no two systems are exactly the same.
Q: If there was one thing you could change about anything impacting the nuclear power industry and subsequently your nuclear services business, what would it be?
A: We wish the general public was better educated as to the truth about nuclear power. All too often the media, political officials, anti-nuclear activists and others are given the soap box and allowed to condemn nuclear power, without ever explaining or promoting the benefits.
They promote ‘renewable energy’ without explaining base load requirements and the fact that renewable energy sources cannot sustain base load requirements. People need to understand that nuclear power is not only safe, but also the most efficient power source available today.
Rather than sensationalizing the theoretical negatives that are easily attributed to nuclear power, we need to start educating the public on the benefits, the extensive precautions that are taken and the continuous improvements that are made to ensure nuclear power plants are the safest power sources available.
Implementation of our PDM (Predictive/Preventive Maintenance) program for the bus duct systems of power plants is just one more example of a process improvement, which proactive power plant officials have embraced to improve safety and efficiency.