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.



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. 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.


NEIS media advisory: "Stop the Nuclear Bailout!" Mock Exelon "Fun(d)-Raiser"


For immediate use --  Monday,  26 January, 2015

Contact:  Dave Kraft, Director, Nuclear Energy Information Service, (773)342-7650 (o); (630)506-2864 (c)

WHAT:  “Stop the Nuclear Bailout!” Mock Exelon “Fun(d)-Raiser”

WHEN:   Tuesday, January 27, 2015;  11:30 to 12:15.


  • 111 W. Grand Ave., (Grand and Clark St., SW corner), Chicago, Illinois.
  • Fliers against the Exelon billion-dollar nuclear bailout will be passed out to attendees of the City Club of Chicago luncheon, “Illinois’ Energy Future: A Policy Discussion,” to be held at Maggiano’s Restaurant.
  • Signs, placards and banners will be displayed by “nuclear workers” in radiation suits, taking up a (faux-)collection in behalf of the impoverished, money-losing Exelon Corporation reactors.  Minimum “contributions” of $100,000 will be requested of those pro-nuclear people attending the luncheon.  Cash, checks, Kruegerrands and bitcoin “accepted”  (sorry – no credit cards!).


  • Speakers from Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), concerned citizens


The City Club of Chicago is sponsoring a luncheon under the innocent-sounding heading of, “Illinois’ Energy Future: A Policy Discussion.”  However, two of the main speakers are spokespeople for  the Exelon-funded “Nuclear Matters” pro-nuclear front group, and a third a member of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the trade and lobbying association for the U.S.  nuclear power industry, whose current head is none other than Philip Crane – CEO of Exelon Corporation.  This heavily biased panel will be speaking to City Club members at a time when Exelon is engaged in attempting to win Illinois ratepayer-funded bailouts for its five money-losing reactors in Illinois from the Illinois Legislature and FERC.

NEIS is staging a “faux-fun(d)raiser” in Exelon’s behalf, to reduce the amount of money they will need to legally extort from Illinois ratepayers – and to send a message to the Governor, the Legislature and public about how absurd and full of audacity Exelon’s undeserved demands are. 

Spokespeople will be available to answer questions during the event.


Davis-Besse: Economic powerhouse, or house of cards?

"Nuclear power burning money" image, created by Gene Case of Avenging Angels, was featured on the cover of The Nation magazine. Used with permission of the artist.As reported by FierceEnergy, First Energy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) commissioned the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI, of which it is a leading member utility) to publish a report on the economic benefits brought by the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor to the Ohio economy.

Apparently, unlike in Illinois, where Exelon pressured th state legislature to order state agencies to write the report, FENOC had to turn to its own trade association and lobbying arm to do it. So much for even the pretense of objectivity. (But even the IL state agency reports showed the sky would not fall if Exelon's five reactors closed!)

Here is what Tim Judson, Executive Director of NIRS, had to say about the FENOC/NEI report:

"FirstEnergy and NEI are out with their own Exelon-like report claiming that Davis-Besse is indispensable. Might be good to cite to the Illinois agencies’ report yesterday saying Exelon and NEI basically exaggerated their doomsday predictions. The fact that Davis-Besse is only like 5% of the state’s generation capacity ought to make this whole thing laughable – especially given the untapped renewable energy and efficiency potential after the state suspended them last year – but the [FierceEnergy] article below also leaves out the piece that FirstEnergy is demanding at least a $182 million/year subsidy to keep [Davis-Besse] and its coal plants online.

That is actually based on the average contract price for all four plants FirstEnergy is trying to include in the contract. In reality, [Davis-Besse's] operating costs are higher than the coal plants – especially considering [FirstEnergy] is likely including the cost of replacing the steam generators (and, who knows, the shield [building] wall?). So the portion that is Davis-Besse costs are probably at least at the $71/MWh level Exelon is likely seeking for Ginna in New York, and maybe higher. But at that level, the ratepayer subsidy for Davis-Besse would be more in the $225 million/year range. Again, that would be a total cost above the market price of electricity."


"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.