The $7.6 billion nuclear bailout. Who's really paying?

Long Island Power Authority ratepayers—including those in Suffolk County—will be and already are paying a disproportionate share of the $7.6 billion bailout of four upstate nuclear power plants pushed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, writes Karl Grossman this week. The bailout runs for 12 years. It kicked in last year with an added charge in the electric bills of all New York State residents, businesses and other entities including schools and governments.

A lawsuit is underway in New York State Supreme Court to end the bailout. It follows unsuccessful efforts in the State Legislature to stop it, of which State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. from Suffolk, was a leader. “The lawsuit is our hope now,” he said last week.

The disproportionate share LIPA ratepayers are being charged is based on a complicated formula developed by Exelon, which owns in whole or part the four plants, and approved by the state. Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, calculates that LIPA ratepayers are being hit with an overcharge of many millions of dollars a year in contrast to what should be their share.

The bailout is based on a claim by Governor Cuomo supported by the State Public Service Commission that nuclear power plants don’t generate greenhouse or carbon gases and thus should receive “zero emissions credit”—an assertion the lawsuit strongly challenges. Read the full article.

And watch Grossman explain more on Enviro Close-Up with attorney Susan Shapiro.



Trump orders Perry to stop coal, nuclear retirements

This breaking news is reported by Utility Dive. It comes on the heels of a scoop by Bloomberg that "Trump Prepared Lifeline for Money-Losing Coal [and Nuclear] Power Plants."

Public Citizen's Energy Program director, Tyson Slocum, has issued a statement.

If enacted, this bailout of some 80 coal and nuclear power plants in a 13-state region could cost the public $8 billion per year in dirty, dangerous, and expensive energy surcharges on their electric bills and/or income taxes.

AP reported on May 29th that energy lobbyist Jeff Miller is the carbon-breathing, radioactive swamp monster mutating U.S. energy markets for his client FirstEnergy, with his intimate access at the highest levels of the Trump administration. Miller is an old, close personal friend of Energy Secretary Rick Perry -- Miller served as Perry's campaign manager in his unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. And Miller sat down for a private dinner with Trump himself several weeks ago, with the president immediately stating publicly afterwards that this coal/nuclear bailout was a top priority for his administration.

Bloomberg also reported on May 29th:

Miller’s lobbying firm has already chalked up some wins.

Utility giant Southern Co., which hired Miller in March 2017 to lobby the Energy Department and others on nuclear energy issues, was awarded $3.7 billion in conditional loan guarantees for its troubled nuclear reactor project in Georgia.


Dirty, dangerous, and expensive versus clean, safe, and affordable

Wind turbine in downtown Cleveland. Ohio's Lake Erie shoreline has some of the best wind power potential in the U.S.As Dick Munson of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has blogged, a new report shows how Ohio can "net more than 20,000 jobs and $25 billion in investment...while enhancing productivity and lowering costs."

The report, by Synapse Energy Economics, is entitled Powering Ohio: A Vision for Growth and Innovative Energy Investment, and highlights five areas for growth: (1) Attracting investment from corporate clean energy leaders; (2.) Electrifying transportation, with a focus on electric vehicles; (3.) Building new clean electricity generation, like wind and solar power; (4.) Boosting Ohio's energy productivity through energy efficiency; and (5.) Investing in a 21st century electric grid. (As the photo above from downtown Cleveland shows, Ohio's Lake Erie shore has some of the best wind power potential in North America.)

Such visions are an antidote to FirstEnergy's desperate appeal to President Trump and Energy Secretary Perry for $8 billion in public bailouts, per year, to prop up 80 coal and nuclear plants in the PJM grid across 13 states and Washington, D.C., including its own dangerously old Davis-Besse and Perry atomic reactors in Ohio, and Beaver Valley Units 1 and 2 in Pennsylvania. More.


Fukushima mothers visit France and the UN to demand their human rights

A group of Japanese mothers and their children recently participated in a speaking tour in France and one mother, Akiko Morimatsu, (pictured above with her son) testified before the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. The mothers urged Japan to comply with UN recommendations to reduce "allowable" radiation exposure levels from 20 milisieverts a year back down to 1 milisievert, the rate before the Fukushima nuclear accident.

In France, the mothers also visited the CRIIRAD laboratory where a soil sample from a children's playground in Japan revealed alarmingly high levels of radioactive contamination.

Read the story of their visit and Mrs. Morimatsu's UN testimony.


Ocean groups are calling for no nuclear dumping into seas

Ocean groups around the world have long protested pollution. Now they are turning their sights to the renewed dumping of radioactive waste. 

More than a dozen environmental and ocean protection groups, coordinated by the Turtle Island Restoration Network, wrote a letter of protest about the proposal by Japanese nuclear egulatory authority and Tepco to dump 770,000 tons of radioactively contaminated water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear reactors into the Pacific ocean. 

Then, when ocean protection groups learned that British authorities were planning to permit the dredging of radioactive mud at the Hinkley nuclear power plant site to be dumped in Welsh waters just off the Cardiff coast, they wrote to the Welsh Assembly, challenging the scientific validity of the proposal.

Read our story about marine groups stepping once more into the fight to stop radioactive waste discharges into the ocean, new at Beyond Nuclear International.