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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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Monday
Aug012016

NY: Manufacturers oppose proposed $7 billion nuclear power subsidy

As reported by Marie J. French in the Albany Business Review:

Big energy users, including large manufacturers in the state, oppose a plan to subsidize nuclear power plants that could cost as much as $7 billion...

The group, Multiple Intervenors, includes Alcoa (NYSE: AA), Corning (NYSE: GLW), Praxair (NYSE: PX), Wegmans Food Markets and State University of New York, according to its website.

"In New York’s apparent haste to appease the owners of selected nuclear generation facilities to ensure the continued operation of those facilities, customers are being exposed to potentially 12 years of artificially inflated and excessive subsidy obligations," the group wrote [in comments to the New York State Public Service Commission]...

Multiple Intervenors and other groups objected to the speed at which the nuclear subsidy is being pushed forward, as the proposal was first released July 8.

Friday
Jul292016

Hinkley Point C in the U.K.: $50 billion radioactive white elephant stopped dead in its tracks?!

An article by Graham Ruddick in the Guardian, entitled "From feast to farce: how the big Hinkley Point C party was put on ice," reported that "the UK government was meant to be celebrating, but delays and second thoughts have left the project stalled."

The two new reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, southwest England, would each be 1,600 Megawatt-electric French Areva European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs).

EPRs under construction in Finland (Olkiluoto 3) and France (Flamanville 3) are years behind schedule, and billions of dollars over budget. A major fabrication flaw in the reactors' lids and bases at those two projects may prove fatal, preventing completion and permanently blocking operation.

A proposed new EPR was blocked by an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, at Calvert Cliffs, Maryland several years ago. That major environmental victory, blocking the flagship EPR in the U.S., likely prevented a total of seven EPRs proposed across the U.S., from Nine Mile Point, NY to Callaway, MO. Additional proposed new EPRs under consideration at Darlington, Ontario were also rejected.

The Guardian article reports that, just two hours after the board of directors of Electricité de France (EDF) voted, by a narrow 10 to 7 margin, to proceed with building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the U.K., the new British prime minister's cabinet secretary in charge of the file, announced the British government would review the matter, and not announce its decision until early autumn.

The high-level confusion/international incident was illustrated clearly by the sudden departure of Chinese nuclear power industry investors, who had flown to Europe for the party celebrating EDF's decision, only to have the U.K. government pull the rug out.

The EDF board vote would have been 10 to 8, but an opponent of the project resigned in protest before the vote took place, citing the extreme risk of the proposal. The six labor union representatives on the EDF board voted as a bloc against proceeding with Hinkley Point C. Their position is that the top priority should be placed on safety repairs and upgrades at France's own current fleet of 58 aging atomic reactors, the second most of any country on Earth. (The U.S. has 100 operating reactors.)

Terry Macalister reported in the Guardian on July 7th that the estimated price tag for Hinkley Point C had risen to a whopping 37 billion British pounds, or nearly $49.5 billion U.S., at current exchange rates.

At a Beyond Nuclear sponsored presentation in Takoma Park, Maryland on July 21st, U.K. professor and solar power expert, Keith Barnham, reported that, at certain times of year, British taxpayers/ratepayers would subsidize 7/9ths of the cost of the electricity exported to France from Hinkley Point C, simply because the demand does not exist in the U.K. He pointed out the irony of going forward with such a U.K. subsidy of France, after the BREXIT vote removing the U.K. from the European Union. Barnham is author of The Burning Answer: The Solar Revolution, a Quest for Sustainable Power.

Friday
Jul292016

Mark Jacobson: "Invest in clean energy, not nukes"

Mark Jacobson, Stanford U.Mark Z. Jacobson (photo, left), a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University, has written an op-ed in the Albany Times Union.

In it, he argues that the $7.6 billion bailout, at ratepayer expense, to prop up New York's upstate reactors (FitzPatrick, Ginna, and Nine Mile Point Units 1 & 2) would be much better invested in expanding solar and wind power, as well as energy efficiency. That would provide a 60% greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and generate 82,000 net jobs, compared to NY Governor Cuomo's ill advised nuclear power bailout scheme. 

Jacobson wrote:

I was among many who were shocked by the Public Service Commission's proposal that the lion's share of the Clean Energy Standard funding would be a nuclear bailout. The plan, which the Public Service Commission may vote on as early as August 1st, would give three upstate nuclear plants an estimated $7.6 billion dollars in subsidies over the next 12 years. That's more than double what the proposal projects would go to renewable energy.

This does not make sense for a number of reasons. Allowing these three upstate nuclear plants to close now and replacing them with equal energy output from onshore wind and solar would be cheaper and would create more jobs.

Understand that the $7.6 billion to support the nuclear plants for just 12 years is a subsidy. After 12 years, another $11.9 billion is needed from the private sector to build wind farms to replace nuclear power. If, instead, the wind power sources were installed today, we avoid paying the $7.6 billion nuclear subsidy entirely and get a greater carbon dioxide reduction over the next 30 years, since wind turbines emit zero CO2 while spinning, whereas nuclear emits CO2 during its entire life due to the continuous mining and refining of uranium, an energy- and carbon-intensive process. Nuclear also emits heat from nuclear reaction directly and water vapor, a greenhouse gas, during cooling of the reactor, both enhancing the heat island effect to the local community and causing thermal pollution to the local water source.

On Feb. 2, 2016, NIRS hosted Dr. Jacobson, along with Dr. Arjun Makhihani of IEER, as well as Dr. M.V. Ramana of Princeton U. (a Beyond Nuclear advisor) for a telebriefing about the potential for renewables and efficiency to replace both fossil fuels and nuclear power. The telebriefing, "Paris Onward," took place after the successful conclusion of the COP21 (21st Council of Parties) climate agreement reached at the end of 2015 in France.

Wednesday
Jul272016

Protect the Great Lakes: Tell NY Gov. Cuomo to Hang up on Nuclear Subsidies, Ring for Renewables/Efficiency Instead!

Tell Governor Cuomo to "hang up" on nuclear subsidies and support renewable energy and energy efficiency instead.
Thanks to Jessica Azulay at Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE) in New York State for sending out this action alert. Please see it below, and take action as soon as possible -- the New York State Public Service Commission could finalize its decision as early as Monday, August 1st! Jessica also asks that you please forward this action alert widely.
Even if you don't live in New York, please take action. Certainly, alert anyone you know in NY to this, so they can communicate directly with Gov. Cuomo. But those who live in other states, or even another country (Canada), would face higher prices, if you ever travel to New York State -- businesses will be forced to raise prices for their products, and even municipalities for their services (such as public transit, such as electrified subway systems), to compensate for this nuclear bailout delivered as a nuclear tax on electricity bills.

But in addition, the precedent could spread to other states (or even provinces) near you, once it is set in such a big, highly populated, influential state as New York. Exelon and Entergy are the two nuclear utilities that would benefit most from this New York bailout -- and, funds being fungible, that could help prop up their reactors in others states, such as Exelon's in Illinois, Entergy's Palisades in Michigan, etc. Even other nuclear utilities, such as FirstEnergy in Ohio, could argue that subsidizing Davis-Besse makes sense, given the NY precedent. All of this has dire implications for Lake Michigan and Lake Erie (and all points downstream), of course! Altogether, the Great Lakes are the drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, and 2 Canadian provinces!

And perhaps most significantly of all, propping up these age-degraded, dirty, dangerous and expensive atomic reactors, at ratepayer expense, is playing with fire, in terms of risks to health, safety, and the environment. The upstate New York reactors on the Lake Ontario shore (Ginna, FitzPatrick, Nine Mile Point Units 1 & 2) are deep into their breakdown phase, at risk of a catastrophic failure. This could radioactively ruin Lake Ontario, drinking water supply for nine million people downstream, in both the U.S. and Canada, as well as a large number of Native American First Nations.

And Indian Point's two reactors near New York City -- which, it now appears, could also get cut in on the deal too -- are surrounded by more than 20 million people, within a 50-mile radius.
Indian Point was already considered for attack by Al Qaeda in 2001, and represents an ongoing, huge security risk. Ed Lyman of Union of Concerned Scientists in 2004, in a report entitled "Chernobyl on the Hudson?", reported that up to 44,000 acute fatalities (radiation poisoning deaths), over 500,000 latent cancer fatalities, and more than a trillion dollars (yes, with a T) of property damage could result, depending on weather conditions, if a successful terrorist attack happened at Indian Point.

These "games" of radioactive Russian roulette are unacceptable, putting at risk a large part of North America, downwind and downstream, up the food chain, and down the generations. This bailout of New York's atomic reactors must be stopped. Please phone New York Governor Cuomo today and tell him so! Use AGREE's sample call scripts provided below, and include other points (such as those above, if you find them compelling and helpful). Thanks.

Sincerely,

Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear

From: "Jessica Azulay" <jessica@allianceforagreeneconomy.org>

Your call today could save New York billions of dollars!

Tell Governor Cuomo to "hang up" on nuclear subsidies and support renewable energy and energy efficiency instead.

Next Monday, New York’s energy regulators may approve an electric rate increase on all New York’s energy consumers. The plan would cost $7-10 billion to prop up NY’s unprofitable nuclear plants. Without these subsidies, nuclear plants cannot compete with renewable energy and will close. But under the guise of “Clean Energy,” the nuclear industry is about to get its hands on our money in order to save its own profits, at the expense of public health and safety – unless we speak up right now.

Thousands of New Yorkers, over 120 organizations, and dozens of elected officials have gone on record opposing the plan. But the Governor has not backed down. Now we need to raise the pressure by flooding his office with phone calls.
 
Please call Governor Cuomo today: (518) 474-8390
 
Click here for some simple instructions and sample call scripts you can use when you call.
 
Every dollar spent on nuclear subsidies is a dollar out of the pocket of New York's electricity consumers -- residents, businesses, and municipalities. This is money that could instead go to supporting energy affordability, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and a just transition to a clean energy economy.

For more information, visit www.CleanUptheCleanEnergyStandard.org and stay up to date on the AGREE Facebook page. Please contact Alliance for a Green Economy if you have any questions.
 
Sincerely,
Jessica Azulay

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----Background---

 
New York's Governor Would Rather Prop Up the Nuclear Industry Than Invest in Renewable Energy

By Jessica Azulay / AlterNet
July 13, 2016

New York is poised to dump $7.6 billion into dirty, dangerous and aging nuclear power plants as part of a policy that Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling the Clean Energy Standard. Although this policy would provide support for renewable energy by requiring utilities to meet New York’s goal of producing 50 percent of electricity from renewable energy by 2030, sadly the real money in the plan is sadly reserved for bailing out nuclear plants. The governor wants to keep several aging nuclear plants open to preserve jobs in two upstate communities.

That may be good politics—and certainly no one wants people to lose jobs—but there are substantial drawbacks, including putting millions of New Yorkers at risk. Why doesn't the governor invest clean energy funds in actual clean energy, such as solar and wind?

To put the 12-year, $7.6 billion plan into perspective, consider that Cuomo’s NY-Sun program, which pays for the state’s solar incentives, is slated to invest only $1 billion into the solar industry over 10 years. That billion dollars has supported the creation of a lot of jobs. Halfway through NY-Sun’s life, New York state has benefited from the creation of 8,000 solar jobs. Conversely, the $7.6 billion to keep nuclear plants open will save about 2,000 jobs. Based on this math, the money would be better spent invested in solar energy. If the governor wants to give existing nuclear workers a helping hand, he could also provide renewable energy companies incentives to hire them.

Left as it is, the nuclear subsidy policy would turn on its head New York’s promise to lead the nation in renewable energy and instead leave New York and Governor Cuomo leading the nation in nuclear subsidies for old and dangerous reactors. The so-called Clean Energy Standard would spend twice the amount of money on dirty energy as it would on renewables. That is preposterous.

The plants that the state wants to prop up are failures both financially and technologically. For instance, the FitzPatrick reactor in Oswego was recently shut down for 12 days due to an electrical issue that ended up causing the plant to spill oil into Lake Ontario—the drinking water source for over 9 million people. FitzPatrick is losing so much money the company that owns it, Entergy, is ready to shut it down. But the governor has apparently been working behind the scenes to get another company to buy the plant in exchange for these generous nuclear subsidies.

The potential buyer, Exelon, also owns two reactors next door, both of which share FitzPatrick’s Fukushima-style design that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has admitted is flawed and could lead to radioactive releases in the case of an accident. Aside from accidents, perhaps nuclear’s biggest failure of all is that it creates thousands of tons of radioactive waste. There is no long-term plan to deal with this waste, so for generations after the electrons generated by the plants have been used, the toxic radioactive waste will remain. Is this the legacy Governor Cuomo wants to leave for New York?

Imagine what New York could do if Cuomo would go all-in on the thriving renewable energy sector instead of dumping more money into the nuclear industry. We could put more funding into wind and solar—including getting offshore wind up and running—and make tens of thousands of homes more energy efficient, creating jobs and saving people money. We could put real dollars into the geothermal industry and get ourselves off fracked gas and other fossil fuels used to heat our homes. We’d have money to help with worker retraining and transitioning communities into the green economy. In short, we could accelerate our transition to 100 percent renewable energy, getting there faster, cheaper and safer.

Thousands of New Yorkers and over 100 organizations have criticized these nuclear subsidies, instead calling for the governor to let dangerous and unprofitable nuclear plants close and to invest our money in renewable energy and energy efficiency instead. But on July 8, the governor’s Public Service Commission went the opposite direction, releasing a new, expensive version of the proposed subsidies. The commission is giving the public a paltry 10 days to comment while the governor stated to the press Wednesday he is working to finalize a deal to keep FitzPatrick open to save 600 jobs and use nuclear as a so-called “clean energy bridge” at the cost of billions of dollars.  

Governor Cuomo should protect the safety of millions of New Yorkers. He should say no to subsidizing the nuclear industry and yes to New York’s clean and green energy economy. Call him today at (518) 474-8390.
 
Update from Alliance for a Green Economy: The new proposal from the Public Service Commission targets the upstate nuclear reactors, but leaves the door open to subsidies for Entergy’s Indian Point reactor starting in 2019. If Indian Point is included in this plan, the costs will rise to over $10 billion. This could also undermine efforts by the environmental movement and New York State government agencies to close Indian Point.

Please call Governor Cuomo today: (518) 474-8390
 
Click here for some simple instructions and sample call scripts you can use when you call.

P.S. For your convenience, we have provided buttons below that you can use to share this message on social media or via email to your friends.

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Tuesday
Jul262016

PUCO staff proposes shoring up FirstEnergy's credit rating on the backs of ratepayers -- but who's shoring up Davis-Besse's crumbling Shield Building?!

The "Whitewash of 2012" (weather sealing the Shield Building, 40 years too late), August to October 2012, which merely made matters worse, locking water in the walls, leading to Ice-Wedging Crack Propagation with every freeze-thaw cycle.From today's Midwest Energy News:

UTILITIES:
• Ohio regulators continue taking testimony on a third rate plan filed by FirstEnergy that would have customers pay $393 million to shore up the utility’s credit rating. (Toledo Blade)

While the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) staff proposes to save FirstEnergy's credit rating, and enrich FirstEnergy shareholders in the process, on the backs of electric consumers in Ohio with a hefty surcharge on their bills, who is proposing to shore up the crumbling Shield Building (rebar reinforced concrete containment) at the Davis-Besse atomic reactor?! Certainly not FirstEnergy, nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Not one penny of the currently proposed ratepayer bailout of FirstEnergy would go towards repairing or replacing the severely cracked, and worsening, Shield Building. FirstEnergy's plan is merely to monitor the growth of the cracking (which they used to deny was even happening), and woefully inadequately at that. NRC has approved this plan.

Replacing the Shield Building would cost billions. It is unclear that repair is even possible. The only "repair" FirstEnergy attempted -- the "whitewash of 2012" (applying weather-sealant to preclude water intrusion, 40 years too late, from August to October 2012) -- merely made the cracking worse, by locking water in the walls! (See photo, above left.)


The Ice-Wedging Crack Propagation, with every freeze-thaw cycle, due to water locked in the walls, will repeat numerous times this autumn-winter-spring coming up, depending on weather conditions. With each freeze, the cracking grows by a half-inch, or more, in circumferential orientation around the Shield Building exterior wall.

Subsidizing Davis-Besse's continued operation, at ratepayer expense, is a game of radioactive Russian roulette, putting those downwind, downstream, up the food chain, and down the generations at ever increasing risk of a catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity. Thanks to everyone who continues to oppose FirstEnergy's attempted money grabs, aided and abetted by the PUCO staff. Davis-Besse must be shut down, before it melts down.