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Nuclear Costs

Estimates for new reactor construction costs continue to sky-rocket. Conservative estimates range between $6 and $12 billion per reactor but Standard & Poor's predicts a continued rise. The nuclear power industry is lobbying for heavy federal subsidization including unlimited loan guarantees but the Congressional Budget Office predicts the risk of default will be well over 50 percent, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Beyond Nuclear opposes taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies for the nuclear energy industry.

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Thursday
Jun212018

NY State cautionary tale: risks to public pocketbooks & safety from bailouts to prop up failing old reactors

The radioactive ruins of Fukushima Daiichi, JapanOn June 14, Long Island-based investigative journalist (honored in early 2018 as "Environmentalist of the Year" by the Long Island Sierra Club), and Beyond Nuclear board member, Karl Grossman, published "$7.6 Billion Subsidy (Tax Increase) Buried in Electric Bill." Karl has also hosted Enviro Close-Up videos for decades, and his latest episode features an interview with New York attorney Susan Shapiro, who is leading the grassroots environmental coalition and ratepayer legal challenge against NY Governor Andrew Cuomo's 12-year bailout, at exorbitant NY ratepayer expense, to keep four dangerously old upstate atomic reactors, on the Lake Ontario shore, operating, despite their worsening safety risks and economic uncompetitiveness. The Ginna atomic reactor is nearly a half-century old; the 44-year old Fitzpatrick and Nine Mile Point Unit 1 are Fukushima Daiichi twin designs (General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors; see photos from the aftermath of the three atomic reactor meltdowns in Japan, above left); the 31-year old Nine Mile Point Unit 2 is a closely related GE BWR Mark II design, which also has a containment that is very likely too small and weak to prevent catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity, in the event of a reactor core meltdown, as have occurred in Japan since March 11, 2011. Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer at Fairewinds Energy Education, has warned in his essay "Downstream" just how irreparable such radioactivity releases would be to the Great Lakes. Lake Ontario is the drinking water supply for many millions downstream, including in Toronto, Ontario, Montreal, Quebec, and numerous Native American First Nations, as along the St. Lawrence River. As nuclear power industry lobbyists have won similar bailouts for old reactors in Illinois, seek them in multiple other states, and have President Trump and Energy Secretary Perry's ear regarding a proposed $34 billion per year, "renewables-destroying," old reactor and coal burner bailout, for 80 power plants across 13 states, NY State's already unfolding cautionary tale should serve as a dire warning. (Speaking of "cautionary tales of the Nuclear Age," check out veteran journalist and author Stephanie Cooke's powerful book, In Mortal Hands.)

Friday
Jun012018

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.

(Jessica Corbett at CommonDreams quoted not only Public Citizen, but also Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists expressing strong objections to Trump's outrageous abuse of authority.)

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.

Friday
Jun012018

Trump Prepares Lifeline for Money-Losing Coal Power [and Nuclear] Plants

Tuesday
May292018

Former Perry Adviser Is FirstEnergy’s Secret Weapon in U.S. Bailout

As reported by Ari Natter in Bloomberg.

See also AP's coverage, in next entry below.

Monday
May282018

AP: "New swamp: Ex-Perry adviser lobbies for energy firm bailout"

As reported by the Associated Press.

President Trump's and Energy Secretary Rick Perry's keen interest in doing legal -- or not so legal -- acrobatics, to accommodate FirstEnergy's bailout request comes into crystal clear focus, once the role of lobbyist Jeff Miller is revealed.

Miller ran Perry's failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He's been paid $330,000 in just the past year, to lobby his former boss (and longtime close friend) Rick Perry, as well as Donald J. Trump himself at a private dinner.

If approved by the Trump administration, FirstEnergy's request for an emergency bailout -- under an obscure section of the Federal Power Act usually reserved for wartime emergencies and natural disasters -- could cost the public $8 billion per year, to prop up 80 coal and nuclear power plants in the PJM grid, a 13 state region that includes Washington, D.C.

The article quotes Dick Munson from Environmental Defense Fund, and Tim Judson from Nuclear Information and Resource Service.