Challenges in HR Management for Sustainable Nuclear Power Generation

Challenges in HR Management for Sustainable Nuclear Power Generation | Goodnight Consulting

Current Staffing Levels in the US Nuclear Fleet

US nuclear plant staffing reached a minimum level in 2007 that has returned to year 2000 levels.  This increase in staffing levels is due to what the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) labels as “Cumulative Impacts.”  These cumulative impacts are a collection of unique challenges the industry is faced with and which result in an increased demand for resources. Some examples include cyber security, Fukushima modifications , and EP rule making. Average 2 unit staffing for a US site is about 1200 personnel. Staff per megawatt are much lower for 2 unit plants due to economies of scale achieved in most work functions when a second reactor unit is present. There is also some hope for further efficiencies with new reactor designs.

Challenges in HR Management for Sustainable Nuclear Power Generation | Goodnight Consulting

Staffing Levels for New Plant Designs

Staffing models show that Gen 3 and Gen 4 reactors will have fewer personnel than Gen 2 plants.  Goodnight Consulting has developed proprietary staffing models for many of the new reactor designs. Staffing requirements are complex and have multiple drivers that must be taken into consideration, including:

  • Plant design
  • Site layout
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Outsourcing options
  • Centralization opportunities

Challenges in HR Management for Sustainable Nuclear Power Generation | Goodnight Consulting

Staffing and Human Resources Considerations for Nuclear New Build

However, even when fewer personnel are required, total plant staffing is a significant life cycle cost factor which must be considered from the beginning of a new build initiative. Like the nuclear power plant, human resources also has a life cycle. The recruiting hiring and training process is often more demanding than is anticipated. Lead times for new personnel at new nuclear power plants can be as long as 7 years before start up and testing.  We developed several conclusions about staffing issues after analyzing many different companies:

  • Hundreds of skilled workers with different education and training will be required; the final staffing count is very plant-design specific
  • Lead times for some jobs at new nuclear plants can be up to 6-7 years before plant start-up, testing, and commercial operations, but 9-10 years may be required from the creation of the Operating Organization to commissioning
  • Several different staffing approaches can be effective, efficient, and safe for nuclear power plant operations; however there are minimum staffing levels for each job function and for total plant staffing
  • Fleets of plants operated by one centralized entity can realize economies of scale and therefore be more efficient in their application of human resources
  • Different outsourcing approaches can be successfully applied, from a small percentage, up to more than half of total staffing
  • Labor may be a significant part of total life-cycle costs

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