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Friday
Feb082013

"Exelon cuts dividend by 41%," as NRC investigates "deliberate" deception regarding decommissioning funds

Between the Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg, Crain's Chicago Business, and Reuters, it has been reported in recent days that Exelon Nuclear: has seen its stock price drop by two-thirds since 2008; is under investigation by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for "deliberate" deception involving a billion dollar shortfall in its decommissioning funds; and has cancelled $2.3 billion in risky power uprates at age-degraded reactors, in order to shore up its credit rating and increase shareholder dividends.

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) has long shined a spotlight on the inadequacy of decommissioning funds across the nuclear power industry, as by requesting Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigations into NRC oversight (or lack thereof).

Ironically, Exelon, the largest nuclear utility in the U.S., is looking to expand holdings in its renewables (wind, solar) portfolio, in order to improve its return on investment in the short term. However, it is also poised to gouge its ratepayers at the earliest opportunity, by increasing the price it charges for nuclear electricity. More.

Friday
Feb082013

Entergy admits its faulty equipment caused 35 minute Super Bowl "lights out"

The darkened Superdome evoked memories of Hurricane Katrina, when the facility served as the emergency shelter of last resort for thousands of displaced New Orleans residentsFirst, Entergy denied any responsibility, instead pointing fingers at the Superdome. Then, Entergy agreed to the need for an investigation. And now, five days later, Entergy admits that its faulty equipment was the culprit that plunged the Super Bowl -- and 75,000 in-stadium fans -- into darkness for 35 long minutes. 108.4 million others watched the darkness on television.

It's not unlike that time in Vermont, when Entergy officials testified, under oath, to state officials, that no underground piping existed at Vermont Yankee which could possibly be conducting radioactive materials. Only to have to admit a short time later, that those very pipes which it had denied even existed, were leaking tritium and other radioactive contaminants into soil, groundwater, and the Connecticut River.

Or that time, when it took over at the Palisades atomic reactor in Michigan, when it promised it would replace the corroded reactor lid and degraded steam generators, as well as deal with the worst embrittled reactor pressure vessel in the U.S. -- but never did.

The Chicago Tribune has reported on Entergy's mea culpa for causing the Super Bowl lights out. USA Today reports that Entergy stocks took a hit upon the admission. CBS Sports has reported that documents revealed concerns about electrical failures in the months leading up to the game. More.

Thursday
Feb072013

Markey letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on hydrogen explosions/vents

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources CommitteeThe Office of U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA, pictured left), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, has circulated the following statement:

"Today, Rep. Markey sent a letter to NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane urging NRC to follow the recommendations of its technical staff and require filtered vents on some nuclear reactors in order to facilitate the prevention of the sort of hydrogen explosions that occurred during the Fukushima meltdowns. The letter also conveyed Rep. Markey’s concerns about ongoing potentially misleading statements made by some NRC personnel concerning the ability of U.S. nuclear reactors to prevent a dangerous buildup of hydrogen gas in nuclear containment structures in the event of a nuclear accident."

Thursday
Feb072013

"Retired Duke reactor may signal more U.S. nuclear shutdowns"

As Reuters reports, yesterday's announcement by Duke that it has decided to permanently shutdown its crippled Crystal River atomic reactor with a severely cracked containment in Florida, and Dominion's decision last October to permanently shutdown its Kewaunee reactor on the shore of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin (despite a 20-year license extension rubberstamp by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission), may be but the first dominoes to fall.

The article quotes UBS energy analyst Julien Dumoulin-Smith, who concluded "It's getting tougher for nuclear to compete." The UBS short list for reactors on the brink of permanent shutdown includes "Entergy Corp's Vermont Yankee in Vermont and FitzPatrick in New York, Exelon Corp's Clinton in Illinois and Constellation Energy Nuclear Group LLC's Ginna in New York," according to the article.

The article ends by questioning if Southern California Edison's San Onofre 2 & 3 in San Clemente will ever restart, given their severe steam generator tube damage. Both units have now been shut down for over a year for safety reasons.

Wednesday
Feb062013

VDPS finds that Entergy has broken its promises to the State of Vermont, urges rejection of CPG

Echoing State of Vermont political leaders' accusation that New Orleans-based Entergy Nuclear is "a rogue corporation," on Jan. 25, 2013, Geoffrey Commons, Director of Public Advocacy at the Vermont Department of Public Service (VDPS), speaking on behalf of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin's administration, filed a strongly worded brief in the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) proceeding re: whether or not Entergy should be granted a renewed Certificate of Public Good (CPG), required to continue operating the Vermont Yankee atomic reactor during its Nuclear Regulatory Commission rubber-stamped 20-year license extension.

Commons highlighted that "Entergy Has Breached lts Promise Not to Operate the VY Station After March 12, 2012 Without Renewed CPG," stating:

"Reduced to its core, this issue demonstrates that Entergy, as a business, is prepared to promise whatever it takes to achieve its immediate business objectives, and, is prepared to violate such promises if honoring them would be inconsistent with subsequent business objectives."

You can contact the PSB, urging it to deny a Certificate of Public Good to Entergy, which would force the shutdown of Vermont Yankee under state law, which Entergy had previously agreed to obey. More.