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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
Mar312017

Ratepayers and taxpayers could lose many billions of dollars in return for zero electricity, if Westinghouse bankruptcy leads to cancellation of four partially constructed atomic reactors

Construction Work in Progress (CWIP), also known as advance cost recovery, is illegal in most states.

It was outlawed by popular referendum in Missouri in 1976, for example. In Indiana, CWIP's illegality led to the cancellation of partially constructed atomic reactors, when would-be nuclear utilities were busted in court by Citizen Action Coalition for trying to do it anyway, despite its illegality.

But the state governments of Georgia and South Carolina decided to make CWIP legal, in order to force ratepayers to fund construction of four Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors: Vogtle Units 3 & 4 in Georgia, and Summer Units 2 & 3 in South Carolina. CWIP was made legal in South Carolina by the Base Load Review Act.

But Westinghouse Nuclear declared bankruptcy on March 29th, due to the massive cost overruns (in the billions of dollars), due to years-long construction delays, at the four reactors. There is a distinct possibility that all four reactors could be cancelled.

Already, after nine rate hikes in just the past several years, nearly 20% of South Carolina ratepayers' payments on their electric bills go toward the construction of Summer 2 & 3. If Summer 2 and/or 3 are cancelled, ratepayers will have invested billions of dollars, without receiving so much as one kilowatt-hour of electricity.

But at least if the two reactors are cancelled, the people of South Carolina won't face decades of "routine" radioactivity releases, as well as the risk of catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity, due to reactor core meltdowns, or high-level radioactive waste storage pool fires.

Vogtle 3 & 4 are also being financed through CWIP, through a surcharge on ratepayer bills, a veritable nuclear tax. In addition, Vogtle 3 & 4 were awarded $8.3 billion of federal taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees, with zero credit subsidy fee. This means, if the Vogtle 3 & 4 construction project defaults on its loan repayment, that entire amount -- 15 times more taxpayer money than was lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default -- could be lost to the U.S. Treasury.

For more information on the Westinghouse Nuclear bankruptcy declaration, and its implication for the ratepayers of Georgia and South Carolina (as well as for U.S. taxpayers, given the Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear loan guarantees), please see Beyond Nuclear's Loan Guarantees website section.

Thursday
Mar302017

Failed [U.S. nuclear] gamble leaves Toshiba investors irate: Shareholders wary as 'core businesses' falter, debt piles up

As reported by Japan Times.

See Beyond Nuclear's Loan Guarantees and Construction Work In Progress (CWIP) website sections for more information, and extensive news coverage, on Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse Nuclear's March 29, 2017 bankruptcy announcement, and its implicatations for: U.S. federal taxpayers; GA and SC ratepayers; and the four partially constructed, billions of dollars over budget (and skyrocketing), and years behind schedule (and likely about to worsen), Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 new atomic reactors.

Wednesday
Mar292017

YOU WERE WARNED: 2/12 alert that #nuclear project woes put billions of taxpayer-backed loan guarantee $$s at risk

Thank you to Scott Stapf of the Hastings Group, for the tweet above, and link to the Feb. 2012 SACE press release, "Groups: Nearly $1 Billion Vogtle Nuclear Reactor Cost Overrun Echoes Earlier Warning About 'Boondoggle' Project."

The cost overruns, and schedule delays, have only mounted over the past five years. Thus, the risks to $8.3 billion in federal taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees have only increased. This is 15 times the amount of money lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default.

See Beyond Nuclear's Loan Guarantees and Construction Work In Progress (CWIP) website sections for more information, and extensive news coverage, on Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse Nuclear's March 29, 2017 bankruptcy announcement, and its implicatations for: U.S. federal taxpayers; GA and SC ratepayers; and the four partially constructed, billions of dollars over budget (and skyrocketing), and years behind schedule (and likely about to worsen), Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 new atomic reactors.

Friday
Mar102017

U.S. taxpayers at risk of losing $8.3 billion if Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactor project defaults on its loan

As reported by Japan Times in an article entitled "Concerns emerge over guarantee for Toshiba's U.S. nuclear project," U.S. taxpayers are at risk of losing $8.3 billion, if the Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactor construction project in Georgia defaults on its loan repayment. That risk has increased significantly in recent months, as Toshiba-Westinghouse, a Japanese firm, teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.

Several years ago, President Barack Obama's Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, awarded the proponents of the Voglte 3 & 4 new reactors -- including Southern Nuclear -- an $8.3 billion federal nuclear loan guarantee, requiring no credit subsidy fee. That is, the companies have zero skin in the game.

The loan guarantee was meant to attract private Wall Street investment firms, but did not. Thus, ironically, the loan itself came from the U.S. Finance Bank, which is federal taxpayer funded. This puts federal taxpayers at even more risk from a Vogtle 3 & 4 loan default.

$8.3 billion is 15 times more taxpayer money at risk, than was lost during the Solyndra solar scandal.

Cost overruns and construction schedule delays have plagued Vogtle 3 & 4's construction from the beginning, several years ago. The problems have contributed significantly to Toshiba-Westinghouse's economic duress, leading Toshiba to exit the new reactor business, and to seek to off-load Westinghouse.

Wednesday
Mar082017

WILL NUCLEAR POWER’S DEATH SPIRAL KILL US ALL?

Beyond Nuclear joined Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) on Harvey Wasserman's radio show, Solartopia Green Power and Wellness Hour. Here is Harvey's summary:

We greet three great expert activists to discuss the downfall of nuke power and the insane wave of corrupt state legislatures forking over billions to keep dying reactors on line.

KEVIN KAMPS from Beyond Nuclear in DC, DAVE KRAFT from Chicago’s Nuclear Energy Information Service and TIM JUDSON of the DC-based Nuclear Information & Resource Service join us in Solartopia to examine massive bailout efforts in Ohio, Illinois, New York and elsewhere.

We begin by assessing the final collapse of the push for new nukes in the US, especially with the collapse of Westinghouse and France’s Areva.

But we then examine the far more terrifying turf of dying old uncompetitive nukes being kept on line with huge state-based hand-outs.

Basically it boils down to your money AND your life.

Listen to an audio recording of the show here.