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.



Entergy threatens to simply walk away from VY decommissioning after 60 years!

An aerial view of the known extent of the tritium contamination in soil and groundwater at the VY site, on the banks of the Connecticut River in southeastern Vermont.Entergy Nuclear is infamous for its arrogance. Now, reports the Associated Press, the country's second biggest nuclear utility, with one less than a dirty dozen atomic reactors in its fleet (Vermont Yankee -- VY -- was forced into permanent shutdown on Dec. 29th under intense public pressure), is threatening the State of Vermont to simply walk away from the radioactively contaminated site after 60 years, if the decommissioning is not yet completed.

The threat was made by Entergy Vice President Michael Twomey, to State of Vermont legislative committees. Under the Orwellian policy "SAFSTOR," the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) allows nuclear utilities to simply sit on permanently shutdown reactors, without doing radiological clean up or facility dismantlement.

Entergy only has about $666 million in the VY decommissioning fund -- only about half what is projected to be needed. The agreement to not require Entergy to put a single penny into the decommissioning fund, from when it took over VY in 2002 till now, was approved by Gov. Howard Dean's (D-VT) administration, well over a decade ago.

Entergy's plan is to keep the $666 million invested in the stock market, so its value can grow to the needed $1.25 billion. What happens if the money is lost in another stock market crash, Entergy is not saying. More.


Exelon's Ginna atomic reactor in upstate NY also at risk of near-term shutdown

NRC file photo of Exelon's Ginna atomic reactor on the Lake Ontario shore of upstate NY near RochesterAs reported by the Democrat and Chronicle, Exelon Nuclear's Ginna atomic reactor -- one of the oldest in the U.S. -- is at risk of near-term shutdown. Dr. Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School, in his July 2013 report Renaissance in Reverse, identified Ginna as one of a dozen atomic reactors across the U.S. most at risk of near-term, permanent shutdown, for a variety of safety, financial, and societal reasons.

The 45-year-old Ginna reactor is located in Ontario, NY, near Rochester, on the shoreline of Lake Ontario (photo, left).

It joins five of Exelon's atomic reactors in the utility's home state of IL at risk of permanent closure due to economic uncompetitiveness. Just yesterday, Public Citizen, Maryland PIRG, and others protested at Exelon's Baltimore HQ against the utility's attempt to plunder Mid-Atlantic ratepayers to prop up its failing reactors across the country.

Exelon is also trying to stick it to IL ratepayers, but is not alone in the attempted gouging of its own customers: FirstEnergy has sought permission to overcharge Ohio ratepayers to the tune of billions, to prop up its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo on the Lake Erie shore, as well as a dirty coal plant on the Ohio River. See Beyond Nuclear's "Nuclear Costs" website section for more news on these and related issues.


Stop Exelon's Power Grab Regional Solidarity Event (Baltimore, MD), Feb. 5

Logo from Public Citizens' action alertPublic Citizen, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, PowerDC, and others have organized a rally in opposition to the proposed Exelon-Pepco merger, to be held in downtown Baltimore, MD at 10:30am on Thurs., Feb. 5th.

If you live in the area, please consider attending, and spread the word!

As posted at Public Citizen's action alert, here are details:

Stop Exelon’s Power Grab Regional Solidarity Event

  • What: Advocates from Delaware, Maryland and Washington, D.C. will speak out against the proposed Exelon takeover.
  • When: Thursday, February 5 @ 10:30 a.m.
  • Where: Outside Exelon’s Headquarters at 750 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore

Public Citizen asks that you RSVP if you are planning to attend the rally.


Nuclear DOESN'T Matter!

Carol Browner, a paid spokesman for industry PR front group "Nuclear Matters," is but the latest in a long line of nuclear power snake oil salesman, seeking to gouge ratepayers and taxpayers"Nuclear Matters," a high-priced front group featuring paid, pro-nuclear spokespeople -- former members of congress and administration agency heads -- was created by Exelon Nuclear and its PR machine last year. It has since been joined by other nuclear utilities.

"Nuclear Matters" spokespeople, such as former Clinton administration EPA administrator, and Obama administration White House "climate czar," Carol Browner, are in Chicago today, and plan to be at FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Carroll Township, Ohio (east of Toledo, on the Lake Erie shore) on Feb. 5th.

"Nuclear Matters" is trying desperately to prop up dirty, dangerous, and uncompetitive atomic reactors, through massive ratepayer bailouts, in both Illinois and Ohio. (And check out Grist's coverage of Exelon's attempt to take over Pepco, and gouge ratepayers in D.C., MD, and beyond in the Mid-Atlantic region!) In fact, in Chicago, they were joined by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the industry's lobbying and PR HQ in Washington, D.C. Exelon, the single largest nuclear utility in the U.S., also dominates NEI -- both Exelon's and NEI's CEO is one and the same person: Christopher Crane.

For her own part, one of Browner's claims to infamy as EPA administrator was to propose Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump regulations that were so weak, that the incoming George W. Bush EPA head, Christie Todd-Whitman, simply adopted them verbatim. (Todd-Whitman is herself a paid spokesman for NEI front group CASE Energy.) An environmental coalition, in alliance with the targeted State of Nevada, later successfully challenged EPA's illegal attempt to cut off regulations at Yucca after only 10,000 years: ordered by the courts to rewrite the regulations, EPA several years later acknowledged high-level radioactive waste is hazardous for a million years.

See entries below about the grassroots environmental, consumer protection, and public interest push back against this attempted ratepayer robbery by Exelon, FirstEnergy, "Nuclear Matters," and NEI.

Nuclear power was infamously touted as "too cheap to meter" in the early 1950s by an earlier snake oil salesman, Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss. Scott Saleska and Arjun Makhijani of IEER's 1999 book The Nuclear Power Deception documented that the entire nuclear establishment, including Strauss, already knew by that time that nuclear power would be too expensive to matter -- until the massive subsidies gouged from taxpayers and ratepayers began. Now "Nuclear Matters" is back for more!


Growing coalition opposes multi-billion dollar ratepayer bailout for FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse atomic reactor

NRC file photo of Davis-Besse on the Lake Erie shoreline east of ToledoAs reported by Tom Henry of The Toledo Blade, the Jan. 15 Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) hearing in Toledo revealed a growing coalition of environmental, public interest, and consumer protection groups opposing a $3.2 billion (or larger) ratepayer bailout sought by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) to prop up its dirty, dangerous and uncompetitive Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shoreline, as well as its Sammis coal burner on the Ohio River in southeast OH. Policy Matters Ohio, Ohio Consumers Counsel (a state agency), and American Association of Retired Persons joined with groups like Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste Michigan, Green Party of Ohio, and others, which have long resisted Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension.

Beyond Nuclear testified at the Toledo hearing, as well as the Akron hearing on Jan. 12. Public Citizen testified at the Jan. 20 hearing in Cleveland, as reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Beyond Nuclear has also submitted all of its written submissions against the Davis-Besse license extension to PUCO's electronic docket. The coalition first intervened on Dec. 27, 2010. Contentions include renewable energy and energy storage alternatives, significant underestimates of severe accident costs, as well as severe and worsening cracking, and rebar degradation, in Davis-Besse's concrete containment Shield Building. Beyond Nuclear also submitted coalition (including Sierra Club) filings against Davis-Besse's risky, experimental steam generator replacement project; Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, served as the coalition's expert witness. Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as legal counsel in both interventions.

PUCO's administrative trial begins on Jan. 28 in Columbus, and will last for several days.