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Froman to help General Atomics with nuclear power program

San Diego’s former Navy Mayor and city COO Ronne Froman is now helping local energy and defense company General Atomics to find business partners for its nuclear power projects.

Recently hired as senior vice president of the energy group, reporting to Chairman and CEO Neal Blue, Froman said her first project for the company is trying to find business partners for the company’s gas reactor design, which is supposed to be 50 percent more efficient than water reactors, creates less waste and is considerably safer.

Froman said she was brought on not for any technical expertise in nuclear power, but for her managerial skills. While she did work on some nuclear-based projects while in the Navy, she did so in an administrative capacity.

“I’m not (here as) a technical person, and I acknowledge that,” she said. “I know what I don’t know.”

California is not expected to be a candidate for building a gas reactor, Froman said, as public policy has been against nuclear power in recent years. She said the company hopes to have a plan in place on developing their design next week.

With oil prices spiking to $100 a barrel Wednesday and American foreign policy linked strongly to the world’s oil supply, nuclear power may gain popularity in coming years, Froman said. According to her, the gas reactor can’t meltdown, which is often the biggest fear people have when a nuclear power plant is built near them. To put people’s fears into perspective, Froman noted there are far more accidents in coal mines than nuclear power plants, and people forget coal is an energy sources as well.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Froman said of her new job. “I really think this is the way of the future of the world.”

A retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, Froman was director of ashore readiness for the chief of Naval Operations, and commander of the Navy Region Southwest in the late 1990s. She retired from the Navy in 2001 after a 30-year career, and served for two years as COO of the city of San Diego under Mayor Jerry Sanders.

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