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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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Friday
Jan092015

"Has Exelon been crying wolf?"

A map of Nuclear Illinois, prepared by NEISAs reported by Kari Lydersen of Midwest Energy News in an article entitled "Illinois report says Exelon nuclear straits not so dire," a massive bailout of $580 million per year at ratepayer expense may not be justified. Chicago-based Exelon, the country's single largest nuclear utility, has lobbied the Illinois legislature for the hand out, in order to prop up five (of 11 still operating) atomic reactors in the state, at risk of closure due to their inability to economically compete on the open market. This report was mandated by a legislative resolution rammed through over public objections earlier this year due to Exelon lobbyist pressure.

David Kraft, Executive Director of Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), was quoted. More.

Wednesday
Jan072015

"Playing chicken with Illinois' electric rates won't improve the climate"

Peter BradfordSo warns Peter Bradford (photo, left) in an op-ed published in Crain's Chicago Business. Bradford served on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission during the Three Mile Island meltdown. He has also served as chairman of the State of New York, and State of Maine, public utility commissions. He now serves as an adjunct professor at Vermont Law School.

Wednesday
Dec312014

"Success for program that funded Solyndra"

"Burning money" graphic by Gene Case, Avenging AngelsAs reported by the Washington Post, "20 of 30 clean-energy projects that got loans are generating revenue." The article refers to the federal energy loan guarantee program.

In fact, as reported," In California, Tesla Motors has flourished, paying back a $465 million loan nearly 10 years early."

Congressional Republicans had attempted to make a lot of hay out of the "Solyndra scandal," a solar loan guarantee that defaulted, costing federal taxpayers $435 million.

Even now, as the article reports, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says "We are not out of the woods by any stretch. Our oversight efforts will continue as problems still persist, and more needs to be done to protect billions of dollars in taxpayer interests."

But as much noise as Upton and his Republican colleagues have made, for years, about Solyndra, they have had nothing to say about the Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear loan guarantee. Awarded by the Obama administration to Southern Nuclear and its partners, the $8.3 billion federal taxpayer-backed loan guarantee (and loan -- it comes from the taxpayer-funded U.S. Finance Bank) for two proposed new reactors in Georgia represents 15 times more taxpayer money at risk than was lost at Solyndra. And the risk of loan default at Vogtle 3 & 4 is significantly higher than the risk that the Solyndra was initially deteremined to have been.

But then again, Upton is one of the nuclear power industry's "best friends in Congress," as documented over the years by Beyond Nuclear in a two-page summary; a full-length backgrounder; and supporting documents, showing individual campaign contributions to Upton, tied to the nuclear power industry, as well as nuclear power industry-related political action committee campaign committee (PAC) campaign contributions made to Upton. In return for the favors, Upton has long supported nuclear power industry lobbying priorities at every turn.

Upton went so far as to sponsor a bill in 2009 that would have defined nuclear power as "renewable energy." His bill fell just short of passage in the Energy and Commerce Committee, when four pro-nuclear Democrats (such as Barrow from Georgia) supported it. It is all the more ironic, and telling, then that Upton opposes renewable loan guarantees, but supports nuclear power loan guarantees.

Tuesday
Dec232014

FirstEnergy seeks multi-billion dollar ratepayer bailout in Ohio to prop up dirty, dangerous, and uncompetitive coal burner & atomic reactor

NRC file photo of Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Oak Harbor, OH on Lake Erie shoreAs reported by John Funk in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, in an article entitled "FirstEnergy rate deal to cost customers an extra $3 billion, says Consumers' Counsel," Ohio-based FirstEnergy electric utility is trying to force ratepayers to prop up two uncompetitive plants. The Davis-Besse atomic reactor is located on the shore of Lake Erie east of Toledo (photo, left), and the Sammis coal burner is located on the banks of the Ohio River in southern Ohio. The bailout would cost Ohio ratepayers $182 million per year. Davis-Besse and Sammis can't compete with other sources of electricity on the wholesale market, including wind power.

Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign has published a backgrounder on the Sammis coal plant.

The Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Committee has published a backgrounder on the Davis-Besse atomic reactor.

Beyond Nuclear plans to testify at public hearings before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) that the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor should be retired, as planned, on Earth Day (April 22), 2017, the day its 40-year license expires, if not even sooner. This is not only an economic imperative, but also a safety and environmental necessity.

Ohio ratepayers are encouraged to attend the PUCO hearings, and speak out, in defense of their pocket books, as well as their health and environment. The hearings will take place at/on:

Akron: Monday, January 12, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. at the Oliver R. Ocasek Government Center, 161 S. High St.

Toledo: Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. at the Michael V. Disalle  Government Center, County Commissioners Hearing Room, 1st Floor, 640 Jackson St. (Between Huron and Erie Street)

Cleveland: Tuesday, January 20, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. at Cleveland City Hall, Council Chambers, 2d Floor, Room 216, 601 Lakeside Ave.

 

Resisting Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension


Beyond Nuclear has joined with allies (Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste MI (DWM), Green Party of Ohio) to resist Davis-Besse's 2017-2037 license extension since late 2010, and put out a backgrounder at that time regarding the reactor's many close calls with disaster.

The intervention expanded to challenging Davis-Besse's severely cracked concrete Shield Building in 2012.

In 2013, Beyond Nuclear (along with CEA, DWM, and Sierra Club Ohio Chapter) challenged Davis-Besse's experimental steam generator replacement, now underway. Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., served as expert witness.

Also in 2013, FirstEnergy admitted the cracking had grown worse, something it (and NRC staff) had adamently denied was possible. In 2014, FirstEnergy admitted that each and every time it freezes at Davis-Besse -- many times each year -- the cracks grow 0.4 to 0.7 inches! The intervening environmental coalition has filed multiple contentions related to these latest FirstEnergy admissions.

Attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as legal counsel for the environmental coalitions engaged in both proceedings.

Given the concrete containment cracking of a Crystal River, FL (permanently closed in 2013), the experimental steam generator replacement of a San Onofre, CA (two reactors permanently closed in 2013), and the age-degradation and economic uncompetitiveness of a Kewaunee, WI (permanently closed in 2013) and Vermont Yankee (permanently closed on 12/29/2014), it is high time for Davis-Besse to permanently shut down!

Tuesday
Dec162014

One-year construction delay at Vogtle 3 & 4 means $730 million in cost overruns for GA ratepayers!

The Vogtle 3 & 4 construction site (aka money pit) as it appeared in July 2013.As reported by the Augusta Chronicle, construction schedule delays at the Vogtle 3 and 4 new reactor project in Georgia will add to the price tag at a whopping rate of $2 million per day! State ratepayer advocates now estimate a one-year delay in reactor start up, which amounts to a $730 million add-on to the already multi-billion dollar cost.

Under Georgia's Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) law, ratepayers are forced to pay for the constructions costs with a surcharge on their electricity bills. This practice is illegal in most other states.

In addition to gouging ratepayers, Vogtle 3 & 4 is also gouging federal taxpayers. The Obama administration awarded an $8.3 billion loan, and loan guarantee, to the project -- Southern Co. and its partners have not one cent of skin in the game. Talk about a financial "moral hazard," with a radiological twist! Let's hope the scheme doesn't "meltdown," and the investment turn "radioactive"!

In fact, the Vogtle 3 & 4 federal loan guarantee amounts to 15 times more federal taxpayer money than was lost in the Solyndra solar scandal. And, Vogtle 3 & 4 are actually more at risk of defaulting on their loan repayment than was Solyndra!