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.



Cover up?: Insight that would've highlighted problems with SC nuclear project scrubbed from audit two years ago

Thank you to Scott Stapf of The Hastings Group for the following Tweet:

Cover up?: Insight that would've highlighted problems with SC nuclear project scrubbed from audit two years ago


FERC Chair Chatterjee to Push Interim ‘Lifeboat’ for Coal, Nukes


Opposition mounts to DOE Secretary Perry threat to upend U.S. wholesale energy market with nuke/coal bailout 

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPOR) is asking the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to indefinitely subsidize exorbitantly expensive, dangerous and dirty energy from nuclear power stations and climate-destroying coal-fired plants at a cost to the U.S. economy independent energy analysts estimate at $10.9 billion per year. On the pretense of providing reliability to the nation's electric grid system, the unprecedented subsidy would be collected from the nation’s business and residential consumers to keep antiquated and unecomocial electricity generators running. Perry’s proposed rulemaking is disingenuously offered as the only way the country can provide “resilience and diversity” to the nation’s aging electricity grid system. The Department of Energy (DOE) is pressuring the FERC to levy new energy tariffs for generators that have a 90-day fuel supply stored onsite under “to operate during an emergency, extreme weather conditions, or a natural or man-made disaster.”

Ironically, rather than provide the electrical grid with resiliency and reliability in times of natural disaster and national security threats, nuclear power stations are the most vulnerable and unreliable of electricity power generators. Extreme weather conditions that interrupt electric grid stability (earthquakes, heavy ice storms, high winds, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.) result in the reactor automatically shutting down or SCRAM. Every nuclear power station security training exercise at nuclear power stations begins with a mock attack to cut off the offsite power to reactor safety systems. Because nuclear power safety syste essentially rely upon grid power, nuclear power plants cannot be used to power up the electric grid after it goes down or "black start. The reactors also power down or SCRAM in the event of other extreme weather events affecting the “ultimate heat sink” (lakes, rivers, reservoirs) that supply reactor cooling water. At one extreme reactors must shut down when receiving water resources freeze and clog cooling water intakes become jammed with ice floes. The same is true for coal-fired generators in extremely cold temperature, coal piles freeze so hard as to make them unusable.  At the other extreme, a long drought can sufficiently lower cooling water levels and heat waves increase cooling water intake temperatures to make reactor cooling inefficient forcing reactors to significantly power down and even shut down.

In fact, the DOE proposed new tariff is aimed at compensating economically failing coal and nuclear power plants’ for their “operating and fuel expenses, costs of capital and debt, and a fair return on equity and investment.”  The FERC is expected to make a decision by December 11, 2017 on whether or not to bailout ten money losing energy companies and up to 90 U.S. power generators that otherwise have to permanently close.

A broad coalition of energy generators from practically every other sector of the U.S. energy market, from natural gas to the solar and wind power industries as well as bipartisan former FERC commissioners, and safe energy consumer groups have mobilized to strongly oppose the DOE’s proposed rulemaking. The coalitions cite that indenturing business and ratepayers to prop up failing nukes and coal-fired plants would wreak havoc on the U.S. wholesale power market, its practices and the nation’s energy future.

The Nuclear Energy Institute is supporting the bailout saying “Generation resilience and resource diversity are critical to our ability to continue providing reliable electric supply, and those attributes are not currently valued by the markets.”

However, on closer scrutiny, Perry’s DOE rulemaking didn’t bother to quantify what the bailout’s cost would be to the U.S. economy. According to expert Professor Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow in electricity law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Program Policy Initiative, it is an “incredibly flimsy document” that is “more like a bad term paper.” While DOE was given authority by Congress to propose rules to the FERC, something it has very rarely done, it is the FERC that must finalize the rules. In an October 30, 2017, telephone conference call, Peskoe criticized the present DOE effort as “poorly reasoned, devoid of evidence, astonishingly vague and legally deficient.” He pointed out that DOE failed to define the “resiliency” that nuclear power and coal plants would supposedly provide the grid for the FERC to base its determination. But Peskoe offered that the definition’s omission was not out of incompetence but strategic, “because if the document had defined resilience it would have been clear that fuel rods and coal piles are not the solution.” In fact, Peskoe commented, the DOE’s present pitch for  “resilience to me is a smokescreen. It's a smokescreen for a bailout” for economically failing coal plants and nuclear power stations.



NIRS national telebriefing on Trump's Nuclear and Coal Bailouts, featuring Rocky Mountain Institute's Amory Lovins, Wed., Nov. 1st, 8pm

NIRS announcement:

Dear Friend,

You are invited to NIRS’s next national telebriefing, Trump’s Nuclear and Coal Revival Plan: What It Means for our Energy Future, featuring world-renowned energy expert Amory Lovins, on Wednesday November 1st at 8:00pm - 9:30pm

Eastern (7pm Central / 6pm Mountain / 5pm Pacific).

The telebriefing is free, but registration is required.

Last month, the Trump administration unveiled a radical plan to promote nuclear power and coal with a massive national bailout. The plan has far-reaching implications for energy and the environment. And it will cost the public over $100 billion in higher energy bills!

Energy expert Amory Lovins has been outspoken in challenging the bailout plan and will share his views on what it means for clean energy in the United States. He will discuss the nuclear-coal bailout and what we can do to stop it, he will also take your questions. 

Amory Lovins is co-founder of Rocky Mountain Institute and a long-time friend of NIRS. He is a leader in helping industry, government, and society transition to a profitable carbon-free future.

Please join us for this vital session on Wednesday Nov 1 at 8:00pm - 9:30pm Eastern (7pm Central / 6pm Mountain / 5pm Pacific).

The briefing will occur on the eve of the COP23 global climate conference in Bonn, Germany. The Trump administration is not only setting a bad example for the world by pushing for dirty energy here at home, but they are also trying to undermine climate action globally by threatening to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

NIRS is mobilizing with the international Don’t Nuke the Climate campaign to stop nuclear power from stealing green energy funds and undermining climate action. Please help us make sure global leaders hear from grassroots activists and communities impacted by nuclear power, uranium mining, and radioactive waste by supporting the campaign

Thanks for all you do!

Tim Judson
Executive Director

Join us for our national telebriefing on Trump’s Nuclear and Coal Revival Plant with Amory Lovins! REGISTER NOW!



Beyond Nuclear joined with 90 other organizations, on comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), opposing the old coal and nuclear power plant bailout euphemistically dubbed the "Reliability and Resiliency Rule." See the coalition comments, and full list of signatory organizations, here.

Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), a leader of the environmental coalition, submitted the comments by FERC's incredibly short deadline of October 23, 2017.

Thank you to groups which responded to Beyond Nuclear's action alerts, urging organizations to sign onto this coalition comment letter.

Beyond Nuclear also signed onto an Ohio and Michigan grassroots coalition comment letter, initiated by attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo. Lodge represents Beyond Nuclear and local grassroots environmental coalitions at such atomic reactors as Fermi 2 (and the proposed Fermi 3), as well as Palisades, in Michigan, and also Davis-Besse in Ohio.

In addition, NIRS submitted 868 individuals, supplementing 10,561 it hand delivered on October 11th. Beyond Nuclear joined NIRS and Food & Water Watch at the rally, at FERC HQ front entrance in Washington, D.C., before the petitions were hand delivered. Thanks too to everyone who has taken action on Beyond Nuclear's alerts, calling for support of the NIRS petition.

Public Citizen reports that its own petition garnered nearly 18,000 signatures -- so thanks too to readers who took action on Beyond Nuclear's alerts encouraging support for that one too. Public Citizen's Energy Program Director, Tyson Slocum, also submitted his own set of comments.

For those individuals who haven't already, please sign the NIRS petition, and also the Public Citizen webform. There is a November 7th FERC deadline, for "response" to comments already submitted -- so additional opposition by our side can be registered by that date.

Likewise, there is still time to add your group's name to the NIRS coalition letter mentioned above -- to sign on, just fill out the form here:

To see the text of the coalition comments letter, and to see the 91 groups currently signed on, click on the top most link in this web posting.

Analysis by the Sierra Club estimates that this old coal and nuke plant bailout could cost ratepayers $14 billion per year. (Reports are that well over 22,000 Sierra Club members also petitioned FERC on this outrageous proposal -- given that many tens of thousands of public comments described here and above, this could well explain why FERC's public comment website "melted down" as the deadline approached!)

Thus, when extended over the likely decade+ long life of the policy, NIRS $180 billion+ cost estimate holds true.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) has also provided critical analysis of the proposed bailouts.