BEYOND NUCLEAR PUBLICATIONS

Search
JOIN OUR NETWORK

     

     

DonateNow

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.

.................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Thursday
May122016

Oops! Exelon's compromise energy bill nearly zeroes out green-power funding

As reported by Steve Daniel's at Crain's Chicago Business, as Exelon Nuclear's well heeled lobbyists seek "the best democracy money can buy" (a phrase coined by investigative journalist and author Greg Pallast), they might want to hire a copy editor.

Exelon claims its omission of $133 million per year in renewable energy and efficiency funding in a major piece of legislation it is pushing in Illinois was a mere "clerical error." Exelon had just days earlier touted the $140 million per year in funding for genuinely clean energy as a major breakthrough it had reached with environmental groups and renewable energy businesses. But the final draft bill included only $7 million per year.

As reported in the article, critics aren't buying Exelon's "clerical error" mea culpa:

"This doesn't give us confidence that Exelon has reversed its historic opposition to the renewable portfolio standard," said Sarah Wochos, co-legislative director at the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center. "In a carefully crafted bill, it's hard to believe that this latest attempt to eviscerate renewable funding was a two-page 'drafting error.' "

Exelon's "clerical error" comes after years of its lobbyists helping stymie the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard, refusing to allow a technical flaw to be fixed, effectively sabotaging renewable energy development in the state.

The "error" also comes after the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) expelled Exelon from its membership, after the company simultaneously lobbied at the federal level to terminate the Wind Power Production Tax Credit, while simultaneously taking advantage of it, itself.

And, as explained by Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago's (NEIS, Illinois' nuclear power watchdog for 35 years) Executive Director, David Kraft, in a May 9th action alert:

After a lull in pseudo-negotiations with Illinois environmental groups, Exelon dropped a new piece of nuclear bailout legislation on the legislature on May 4th.  Titled the “Next Generation Energy Plan,” it is SB.1585.  Introduced BY Exelon while they were in allegedly “good-faith” negotiations with members of the Clean Jobs Coalition (CJC), the bill was introduced without warning.  Exelon claims it to be, “a result of discussions between Exelon Generation, ComEd, the Clean Jobs Coalition, and other key stakeholders,” and “…reflects the best of all three bills introduced by Exelon Generation, ComEd, and the Clean Jobs Coalition in 2015….”  (Source:  “Nuclear Power Matters” e-mail blast to Exelon supporters.).  So much for “good faith negotiations.”  To be clear: the Clean Jobs Coalition and enviro groups did NOT endorsenor collaborate in the creation of the Exelon bailout bill.

To its credit, the State of Illinois Legislature has, thus far, proven itself to NOT be "the best democracy money can buy." Exelon's lobbyists failed a year ago to force through their nuclear power bailout scheme. Exelon has till May 31, 2016 to force its supposedly now corrected legislation into law. It has threatened to close three reactors at two plants, in the next two years, if it doesn't get its way.

If you are an Illinois resident, please contact Governor Rauner, State House Speaker Madigan, and State Senate President John Cullerton. See NEIS's action alert for direct contact info., as well as suggested talking points. If you are not an Illinois resident, but have friends, family, or colleagues who are, please urge them to take action! Grassroots citizen action could make all the difference -- indeed, it is the only thing that ever does!

Given the safety benefit of closing such age-degraded reactors, as well as stopping the generation of any more high-level radioactive waste for which there is no solution, these reactor closures would be a good thing. A just transition for the workforce, including into a growing Illinois renewable and efficiency sector, would set the state on the road to a clean energy future in a big way, while saving ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year in this latest round of attempted nuclear power mega-subsidies, at public expense.

Monday
May092016

NEIS: STOP NUCLEAR “TERRORISM” -- OPPOSE THE EXELON NUKE BAILOUT!!

STOP NUCLEAR “TERRORISM” -- OPPOSE THE EXELON NUKE BAILOUT!!

They’re baaaack!!  After a lull in pseudo-negotiations with Illinois environmental groups, Exelon dropped a new piece of nuclear bailout legislation on the legislature on May 4th.  Titled the “Next Generation Energy Plan,” it is SB.1585.  Introduced BY Exelon while they were in allegedly “good-faith” negotiations with members of the Clean Jobs Coalition (CJC), the bill was introduced without warning.  Exelon claims it to be, “a result of discussions between Exelon Generation, ComEd, the Clean Jobs Coalition, and other key stakeholders,” and “…reflects the best of all three bills introduced by Exelon Generation, ComEd, and the Clean Jobs Coalition in 2015….”  (Source:  “Nuclear Power Matters” e-mail blast to Exelon supporters.).  So much for “good faith negotiations.”  To be clear: the Clean Jobs Coalition and enviro groups did NOT endorsenor collaborate in the creation of the Exelon bailout bill.

In another “Nuclear Power Matters” e-mail, Exelon threatens, “…if the Next Generation Energy Plan does not pass by May 31 – the end of Illinois’ spring legislative session – the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants will be shut down on June 1, 2017, and June 1, 2018, respectively.” To which NEIS replies:  GREAT!  (except for the workers and the reactor communities that Exelon is holding as “nuclear hostages” with the Illinois Legislators, who in an election year are more concerned about jobs than they are about the environment and sound, long-term energy policy).

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  STOP NUCLEAR TERRORISM**! –

It’s time we call their bluff, and call their behavior for what it is.  It is EXELON that is deciding to shut the reactors and fire the workers and trash the communities if they don’t get their bailout, no one else.  Let THEM take the heat for the consequences.

Contact:

•           Governor Bruce Rauner, (312) 814-2121; also, you can leave a written message on the Governor’s website at:  http://www.illinois.gov/gov/contactus/Pages/VoiceAnOpinion.aspx

•           House Speaker Michael Madigan, (217) 782-5350

•           Senate Pres. John Cullerton, (773) 883-0770

The Message:

              NO bailouts for Exelon’s aging, money losing reactors

              Fix the Renewable Portfolio Standard NOW and FIRST

              Enact a “just transitions” program for reactor communities and displaced workers;

              Enact strong reactor decommissioning laws, which Illinois currently lacks

              Add your own message

[NOTE: ** For those who think we exaggerate, one of the three conditions the FBI has set  for defining domestic terrorism states that an act, “Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.” Threatened “economic mass destruction” would seem to be a “lite” version of this condition.  “Back in the days” of the Chicago Mob, this kind of thing was simply “extortion,” or, as is more commonly known nowadays, “Making an offer they can’t refuse.” –DK--]

[This action alert was prepared by David Kraft, Executive Director, Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago, Illinois' nuclear power watchdog for the past 35 years.]

Monday
May092016

Critics: New FirstEnergy ‘bailout’ plan ‘would make Houdini blush’

Crews install new LED lighting in the sign at FirstEnergy's Akron headquarters.As reported by Kathiann M. Kowalski at Midwest Energy News, FirstEnergy's hail Mary pass to try to resurrect its billion dollar bailout approved by PUCO but rejected (for now) by FERC has generated fierce push back by critics and opponents.

The article quotes the State of Ohio Consumers' Counsel:

“This continuing saga of the FirstEnergy bailout remains a great risk for Ohioans' electric bills and, nearly two years into the state process, an imposition on government regulation that the public funds,” said Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston. “Enough is enough.‎"

The Electric Power Supply Association is also quoted:

“If anything, this new unprecedented scheme is worse,” said John Shelk, president of the Electric Power Supply Association. “It shows what we have said all along. This isn’t about protecting customers and retail rate stability, but about bailing out shareholders and management in the face of a looming credit downgrade.”

In his opinion, the “escape attempt” from FERC’s order requiring scrutiny of the power purchase agreement “would make even Houdini blush.” (emphasis added)

Environmental groups, including Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, and Earthjustice, also oppose FirstEnergy's bailout attempt.

“FirstEnergy’s latest gambit underscores that its bailout proposal has nothing to do with protecting customers or preserving Ohio generation, and everything to do with propping up corporate profits,” said Shannon Fisk of Earthjustice on behalf of the Sierra Club

“We urge PUCO to reject FirstEnergy’s attempt to evade federal review of an illegal bailout that FirstEnergy acknowledges would cost customers at least $363 million in the first 31 months alone,” Fisk added.

In addition to propping up noncompetitive, 50-year old FirstEnergy coal burners, like Sammis and at OVEC (Ohio Valley Electric Cooperative, including units that historically electrified uranium enrichment facilities in the Ohio River Valley), the $3.9 to more than $5 billion bailout, over eight years, would also go towards propping up the problem-plagued, age-degraded FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore east of Toledo. 

Since 2010, Beyond Nuclear has co-led an environmental coalition opposed to the 20-year (2017-2037) license extension at Davis-Besse. Beyond Nuclear et al.'s objection to high-level radioactive waste generation at Davis-Besse is still before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Toledo attorney Terry Lodge serves as legal counsel for the coalition opposing the license extension. D.C. attorney Diane Curran, and Atlanta attorney Mindy Goldstein, serve as Beyond Nuclear's legal counsel in the Nuclear Waste Confidence appeal; Natural Resource Defense Council's Geoff Fettus presented oral arguments at the D.C. Circuit, on behalf of the environmental coalition, on Feb. 22, 2016.

Monday
May092016

Absent Legislation, Exelon to Close Clinton, Quad Cities Nukes

As reported by RTO Insider, as well as the Wall Street Journal, Exelon Nuclear has threatened to permanently close its Clinton nuclear power plant by June 1, 2017, and its Quad Cities nuclear power plant a year later, unless the State of Illinois approves a large-scale bailout. Exelon's lobbyists seeks $300 million per year, for several years, amounting to more than $1.5 billion in subsidies. This, to prop up atomic reactors that cannot compete with less expensive sources of electricity, including wind power and energy efficiency.

35-year-old Chicago-based watchdog group Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) has led the resistance to the billion dollar boondoggle, as by holding "Alms for Exelon" street theater parodies, as well as educating state legislators' offices. So far, NEIS has successfully staved off the public subsidies.

Exelon's latest money grab in IL comes after its lobbyists' success at winning a split decision from the Washington, D.C. Public Service Commission, approving its takeover of Mid-Atlantic utility Pepco. Exelon can now be expected to gouge not only D.C. ratepayers, but ratepayers throughout Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic, on their electricity bills, further helping to prop up failing Exelon atomic reactors throughout the country.

Public Citizen and DC Solar have appealed the DC PSC ruling; resistance, as by CCAN (Chesapeake Climate Action Network) and the State of Maryland Attorney General and state ratepayer advocate, also goes on in Maryland.

Exelon has made similar subsidy demands in NY, to prop up failing reactors there, as the RTO Insider article reports.

Any such subsidies would be in addition to hundreds of billions of dollars of public (ratepayer and taxpayer) subsidies the nuclear power industry has already enjoyed, over the past half-century, as reported by Union of Concerned Scientists in 2011.

Saturday
May072016

Crain's Chicago Business: Why the state might raise your power bill

Map by Crain's Chicago BusinessAs reported by Steve Daniels at Crain's Chicago Business, the coal burner Dynegy has joined the atom splitter Exelon is seeking approval from the Illinois State Legislature for a mega-bailout, at ratepayer expense, to prop up dirty, dangerously old, and noncompetitive power plants (see the Crain's Chicago Business map, left, for plant locations in the state).

Ironically, Dynegy has critized such ratepayer-funded subsidies in Ohio. It has opposed efforts by FirstEnergy and American Electric Power to obtain above market rates Power Purchase Agreements from Ohio ratepayers, as in the proceeding before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. FirstEnergy's bailout would prop up both its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor, as well as several coal plants (AEP's bailout would prop up exclusively coal plants).

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has put a hold on the PUCO's approval of the FirstEnergy and AEP bailouts. Some analysts see this as the end of the proposals.

Adding to the irony, Exelon Nuclear, as well as Dynegy, offered bids to outcompete FirstEnergy before the PUCO. Exelon said it could provide the same amout of electricity for $2 billion less than FirstEnergy; Dynegy said it could do so for $2.5 billion less than FirstEnergy.

While Exelon Nuclear and Dynegy tout free market competition in electricity in Ohio, they are attempting to do the opposite in Illinois -- seeking state approval for massive ratepayer subsidies, to prop up age-degraded, noncompetitive plants.