To increase awareness of nuclear energy’s role in clean-air electricity generation, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has entered into a partnership with the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League. As an official energy partner of the Capitals, NEI is joining with the hockey team to promote the clean-air benefits of nuclear energy to sports fans through multiple media, including signage at the Capitals’ home arena; the Verizon Center; in print and radio ads; and on the Capitals’ and NEI’s Web sites.

Hockey and climate change may seem unrelated, but a rising concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is, many believe, creating changes in the climate—changes that are having an impact on hockey. Across the world, ponds and lakes on which many hockey players hone their skills are freezing later and melting earlier in the year.

Nuclear power plants do not emit greenhouse gases or other controlled air pollutants while generating electricity, so the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers nuclear power a clean method of generating electricity, despite nuclear waste as a byproduct. For local Capitals’ fans, 85 percent of the clean electricity produced in Maryland comes from the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant located 45 miles from the Capitals’ home ice at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. In Virginia, nuclear energy produces 91 percent of the state’s emission-free power.

Capitals’ fans this hockey season will see NEI’s “Nuclear: Clean Air Energy” message prominently displayed near the goal both at the Verizon Center and at the team’s training facility, Kettler Capitals Iceplex, in Arlington, Va. NEI also will air 30-second radio commercials during coverage of all 82 games on local radio station WFED 1500 AM. NEI will have video and display ads on the Capitals’ Web site and full-page advertisements in the game programs.

Other energy initiatives are tying together clean energy and hockey. Canada’s Bruce Power, which operates six reactors in Ontario, supports the Toronto Maple Leafs. Xcel Energy sponsors the Minnesota Wild’s youth incentive program and also works with the Colorado Avalanche to promote energy saving ideas, conservation and renewable energy efforts in Colorado.

NEI cites a common interest in sustaining the outdoor environment as a reason for such partnerships. According to some authorities, if air-polluting energy sources are to blame for global warming, cleaner energies can help maintain environments for hockey players.