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Exelon vet named new US nuclear lobby chief

The Nuclear Energy Institute has elected veteran Maria Korsnick tobe its new president and CEO.

The U.S. nuclear energy industry's lobbying group, NEI,announced on Oct. 4 that Korsnick will assume her new roles at the start of2017 following the departure of her predecessor, Marvin Fertel. Korsnick has runNEI's daily operations as COO since joining the trade group in May 2015 as aloaned executive from Exelon subsidiaries Exelon Generation Co. LLC and , or CENG. Fertel is retiringat the end of 2016 after nine years at the helm of NEI.

 "I couldn't bemore proud to have the opportunity to lead NEI and advance nuclearenergy," Korsnick said in a news release. "I am passionate about thekey role nuclear energy can play for our nation. The nuclear industry is facingchallenges, and I'm looking forward to help strengthen the policies,regulations and public support that will ensure it has a robust future."

NEI acknowledged in the announcement that Korsnick'ssuccession as the face of the U.S. nuclear energy industry comes at a"transformational time" for the fleet following the retirements — orannouncements thereof — of 10 reactors in five states within the past severalyears. Further plants are in danger of early retirements as a result of being unableto compete in wholesale power markets against cheap natural gas-firedgeneration and subsidized renewables. To prevent this and subsequent rises inemissions, New York regulators approved in August a 12-year subsidy to support three at-riskupstate nuclear power plants.

Korsnick's 30-year nuclear career includes being CEO andchief nuclear officer of CENG and senior vice president for Exelon Generation'snortheast operations. She also oversaw operations at three nuclear power plantsand headed the U.S. industry's post-Fukushima taskforce to identify andimplement safety enhancements following the March 2011 meltdown of the FukushimaDai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan after an earthquake and tsunami.

Don Brandt, NEI board chairman and chairman, president andCEO of Pinnacle West CapitalCorp., praised Korsnick's strong leadership skills and exceptionaltechnical expertise in a news release.

"As proven by her success as NEI's chief operatingofficer, she will provide the vision and guidance that will drive theorganization's effectiveness," Brandt said. "The NEI executivecommittee is confident that Maria will enable NEI to increase recognition ofnuclear energy's value, further empower the nuclear industry's commitment toefficiency and reliability, and facilitate the development of next-generationreactors."

NEI also announced in August the departures of Alex Flint, senior vice presidentfor government affairs, and Scott Peterson, senior vice president forcommunications. The two senior officials will be replaced by a single seniorofficer to oversee governmental affairs, communications and policy.