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.



Resources on just economic transitions when renewables/efficiency force atomic reactors to permanently shut down

Some resources (in backwards chronological order) on just economic transitions, for atomic reactor workers, municipalities dependent on their tax revenues, low-income households vis-a-vis electricity cost, etc., when atomic reactors permanently shut down:

Joint Proposal, between Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), environmental groups (Friends of the Earth (FOE), Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, Natural Resources Defense Council), and unions (including International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IBEW), for the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant at the end of its 40-year operating license in 2024-2025, and its replacement with energy efficiency and renewable sources of electricity, June 21, 2016.

Beyond a Band-Aid: A Discussion Paper on Protecting Workers and Communities in the Great Energy Transition, Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), Takoma Park, MD, June 10, 2016.

[Note that this discussion paper is mostly focused on the phaseout of fossil fuel industries in Maryland. However, nuclear power is touched upon. Even though it is Maryland- and fossil fuels focused, the concepts can and should be applied to atomic reactor shutdowns nationwide.]

April 23, 2016. NIRS and AGREE submit extensive comments to New York PSC that show how NY can meet its 2030 carbon emissions goals without nuclear (and thus without nuclear subsidies).

October 22, 2015. NIRS/AGREE analysis finds FitzPatrick reactor can be replaced with clean & renewable energy at a lower cost. Press release; full analysis


In addition, there must be some great resources coming out of Germany. After all, the fourth largest economy in the world is phasing out both nuclear power (completely, by 2022), and is decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 85% (as compared to 2005 levels) by mid-century, through the expansion of renewables like wind and solar, as well as maximized energy efficiency. An Oct. 15, 2015 National Geographic article entitled "The Will to Change," in an issue entitled "Cool It" about the climate, appropriately gave much of the credit for the German energy transformation to the anti-nuclear movement.


Public Citizen, D.C. SUN Urge Court to Block Exelon Takeover of Pepco

Sept. 17, 2015 PowerDC rally in Washington, DC, opposing Exelon Nuclear's takeover of Pepco. The hand-signed banner was delivered, en mass, to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser's office.WASHINGTON, D.C. – Public Citizen and D.C. Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN) today are filing a court challenge to the D.C. Public Service Commission’s (PSC) decision to approve Exelon’s takeover of Pepco. The groups believe the merger is not in the public interest, and the petition being filed today is the first step in asking the D.C. Court of Appeals, the district’s highest court, to block the merger.

The $7 billion merger will lead to higher electricity rates and stymie the District’s efforts to shift to renewable energy, the groups maintain. The PSC on June 17 rejected requests by Public Citizen and other groups to reconsider its decision to allow the merger. Since then, Pepco has asked for an $85.5 million rate increase.



A tale of two governors: "Exelon Losing in its Own Backyard as New York Rescues Nukes"

As reported by Bloomberg:

In the end, the fate of Exelon Corp.’s money-losing reactors in Illinois and New York may have come down to one governor who desperately wanted to rescue them and another who wasn’t so sure.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [a Democrat] laid down his marker in December when he told the chairman of the state’s utility regulator that losing two upstate nuclear plants would gut a plan to cut global warming pollution and cost jobs. On Monday, the state agreed to a bailout and within hours, Exelon said it would invest $200 million in the two plants.

While Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner [a Republican] also worried about job losses, he said any rescue plan must protect ratepayers and taxpayers and that corporate bailouts raise red flags. In June, Chicago-based Exelon said it would close two Illinois plants after the state legislature balked at a measure to stem their financial losses.



"Exelon the main beneficiary of nearly $1 billion in N.Y. subsidies"

"Burning money" graphic by Gene Case, Avening Angels.As reported by Crain's Chicago Business, Exelon Nuclear stands to gain nearly $1 billion in ratepayer bailouts in just the next two years alone, to prop up the Ginna and Nine Mile Point Units 1 & 2 atomic reactors in upstate New York, under a subsidy scheme ordered by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), and approved by his Public Service Commission on August 1st. (Exelon is also seeking to buy Entergy's FitzPatrick reactor, also on the Lake Ontario shore, and apply the subsidies there as well.)

As the subsidies will continue until 2029, AGREE and NIRS have estimated a total cost to NY ratepayers of $7.6 billion. If the subsidies are extended to Entergy's Indian Point Units 1 & 2 near New York City, the total bailout could top $10 billion, at NY ratepayer expense.

Exelon lobbyists hope to use the precedent in NY to convince the governor and legislature in IL to grant ratepayer bailouts there, as well, to "rescue" three financially failing reactors at Clinton and Quad Cities.

Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago has led the resistance to this bailout in IL for years.

Exelon would even like to extend the precedent to additioal states -- CT, MD, NJ, PA, etc. -- in hopes of taxing ratepayers there too, in order to prop up multiple failing reactors. FirstEnergy would like to do the same, at its failing Davis-Besse atomic reactor in OH.

In 2011, UCS published a comprehensive report ("Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable Without Subsidies," by Doug Koplow) about nuclear power subsidies in the U.S., at public expense. To the massive subsidies paid by taxpayers and ratepayers over the previous half-century, must now be added a $7.5 to 10 billion subsidy in New York State alone. The nuclear power industry's lobbyists would now like to expand that subsidization to other states across the U.S.


Aging nuclear power plants in New York uneconomic without bailout

Karl GrossmanBeyond Nuclear board of directors member Karl Grossman (photo, left) writes:

On Enformable today, my article on the New York State Public Service Commission yesterday approving a $7.6 billion bail-out of aging nuclear power plants in upstate New York under a "Clean Energy Standard" advanced by Governor Andrew Cuomo. He has pushed for continued operation of the plants and appoints the members of the PSC.

Grossman is the professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury. Karl is also the author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power and other books on nuclear technology, as well as hosting numerous TV programs on the subject including "Chernobyl: A Million Casualties," "Three Mile Island Revisited" and "The Push to Revive Nuclear Power."