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.



Beyond Nuclear joins PowerDC at DC city hall rally to urge "No Deal!" on Exelon Nuclear's takeover of Pepco

Participants in the PowerDC rally against Exelon's takeover of Pepco took a group photo before marching to DC Mayor Muriel Bowwer's officeOn Sept. 17th, Beyond Nuclear staff joined with allies in the PowerDC coalition at the Wilson Building -- housing the Executive Office of the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser -- to urge her to not cave to lobbyists' pressure from Exelon Nuclear of Chicago. The Washington City Paper and the Washington Post (the latter with a Nuclear Energy Institute, NEI, ad in the center of the article) have reported on the rally. (Exelon Nuclear is the largest commercial nuclear power utility member of NEI; Christopher M. Crane, the President and CEO of Exelon Nuclear, is also the Chairman of NEI).

Last month, the DC Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously rejected Exelon's takeover of Mid-Atlantic utility Pepco, a ruling Mayor Bowser said she supported at that time. DC was the only jurisdiction to reject the merger. DE, MD, NJ, and VA, as well as FERC and DOJ, have already approved it. However, a single jurisdictional rejection nixes the deal for all jurisdictions.

But, Exelon appears unwilling to take no for an answer.

Since the DC PSC rejection last month, Exelon (and Pepco, the shareholders of which would make a killing on the acquisition) lobbyists have taken to back room deal making, as well as a high-priced ad campaign. In addition, the two companies will formally appeal the DC PSC decision by the Sept. 28th deadline, and have also threatened a lawsuit.

It is clear that, once Exelon would take over Pepco, renewable energy and energy efficiency advances, built over years at Pepco, would be reversed as unwanted competition to Exelon's atomic reactors. Rates would be raised, to funnel the money back to IL, to prop up five dirty, dangerous, and uncompetitive reactors there. And DC would lose yet more local control -- something District residents and decision makers already suffer, given DC's non-voting status in Congress, as well as federal oversight on basic policies.

Beyond Nuclear staff handed out action cards, urging folks contact Mayor Bowser, and also providing a link to exposés by Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago, a 34 year watchdog, on Exelon's nuclear misdeeds in IL and beyond.

PowerDC has a webform where you can take action, urging Mayor Bowser and DC City Council Members to stand firm, and not buckle under Exelon Nuclear's lobbying pressure or threats of a lawsuit. Not only DC residents and taxpayers should weigh in with DC political leaders, but also the many millions of people who visit the nation's capital each year -- all of whom will pay, monetarily and with their health and safety, if Exelon's dirty, dangerous, and expensive atomic reactor fleet become the driver for Mid-Atlantic electric power decision making!

Speakers at the rally -- attended by a couple hundred people -- included: 

  • Judi Jones, ANC 4B 
  • Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3)
  • Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6)
  • Councilmember Elissa Silverman (At-Large)
  • Delvone Michael, DC Working Families
  • Pastor Earl D. Trent, Florida Ave Baptist Church
  • Andy Shallal, DC business leader & Owner, Busboys & Poets
  • Anthony Lorenzo Green, Chair, ANC 8B
  • Jim McGrath, Tenants Association of DC
  • Akili West, DC SUN & Ward 8 Solar Co-Op
  • John Capozzi, Pepco Shareholder
  • Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network
  • Hudson Brown & Katie Bryden, American University
  • John Chelan, Ward 3 Democrats & DC Public Power
  • Keshini Ladduwahetty, DC for Democracy 
  • Rob Robinson, Grid 2.0 / DC CUB
  • Dana Sleeper, MDVSEIA 
  • Randy Speck, Chair, ANC 3G

Cue up the bailout plea: Entergy might close aging FitzPatrick nuclear plant in New York State

Entergy's FitzPatrick atomic reactor (NRC file photo).The subject line above is Scott Stapf of the Hasting Group's Tweet pointing to an article at The dirty, age-degraded, dangerous, expensive, uncompetitive Fukushima Daiichi twin design (a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor) on the Lake Ontario shore in upstate NY (see photo), couldn't close a moment too soon!


MOX a $5 billion boondoggle, with no end in sight!

As reported by Steven Mufson at the Washington Post:

A group of more than a dozen prominent former arms negotiators and senior diplomats has sent a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz urging an end to the U.S. nuclear fuel program at the government’s Savannah River complex that they say is too costly and a threat to non-proliferation efforts.

...The signatories included former nuclear arms negotiators Robert Einhorn and Robert Gallucci; former ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Joseph Nye; former White House director for arms control, former Pentagon and intelligence official Henry S. Rowen; former head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Jessica Matthews; former Nuclear Regulation Commission members Peter Bradford and Victor Gilinsky; National Medal of Science winner and a designer of the first hydrogen bomb Richard Garwin; and nuclear policy experts Henry Sokolski, Frank von Hippel, S. David Freeman and Ploughshares Fund president Joseph Cirincione.

SRS Watch has posted the letter online.

But such concerns about the use of Mixed Oxide Uranium-Plutonium (MOX) fuel at commercial atomic reactors goes back 20 years. Grassroots anti-nuclear activists, as in the 1999 lawsuit Alice Hirt v. Bill Richardson, Energy Secretary, urged that weapons-grade plutonium be mixed back into the high-level radioactive waste from which it came in the first place, and be treated as a deadly, dangerous radioactive waste, not a nuclear power commodity.

However, the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility at the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in South Carolina has proceeded regardless, a $5 billion waste of federal taxpayer money thus far, with no end in site. But in addition to the unwarranted subsidy to the nuclear power industry, the program also risks nuclear weapons proliferation internationally, and also risks a plutonium-fuelled nuclear power catastrophe at reactors never designed for MOX use. More.


VOX: "This Ohio utility has an innovative plan to save coal power: force customers to buy it"

A FirstEnergy ratepayer (Shutterstock). In fact, AARP has spoken out forcefully against the FirstEnergy bailout, as at PUCO public comment hearings in Akron, OH -- FirstEnergy's hometown -- in Jan. 2015.Should we laugh or cry? David Roberts has written an appropriately sarcastic, comprehensive review of FirstEnergy's attempt to gouge Ohio ratepayers to the tune of $3 billion over the next 15 years, to prop up its uncompetitive Davis-Besse atom-splitter on the Lake Erie shore, and its climate-fouling Sammis coal burner on the banks of the Ohio River.

Never mind that a decade ago, FirstEnergy lobbyists led the charge for "deregulation." Now, they're leading the charge for killing the competition (efficiency and renewables), as NIRS executive director Tim Judson has put it. And they're leading the charge for this ratepayer bailout.

Roberts' humorous, insightful article begins:

A power utility in Ohio is attempting to shaft its own customers in a manner so shameless as to defy description. Yet describe it we must, for it represents everything backward and perverse in the electricity sector and reveals that the interests of the institutions that provide electricity have come fundamentally out of sync with the interests of the citizens who depend on it.

Plus it's pretty funny, in a morbid sort of way. You almost have to admire the chutzpah. But to understand it takes a little explaining. Here's the TL;DR [Too Long; Didn't Read] version...


Just say no to nuclear subsidies: "FirstEnergy cannot call Davis-Besse power plant reliable"

Beyond Nuclear just got this letter to the editor published at the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

To his credit, PUCO chair Andre Porter prioritized safety, in addition to reliability and cost, when it comes to Ohio's electricity supply ("PUCO Chair Andre Porter sees big changes coming for power companies," Plain Dealer, Aug. 30). FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse atomic reactor fails all three tests, but none more potentially catastrophically so than safety.

How can Davis-Besse be called reliable, when it shut down from 2002 to 2004 in the aftermath of the reactor lid corrosion "Hole in the Head Fiasco"? In fact, that $600 million boondoggle left no money to trim trees, leading to the second biggest power outage in history, 12 years ago.

Obviously, Davis-Besse is not cost competitive if it's part of FirstEnergy's request to PUCO for permission to gouge Ohio ratepayers to the tune of $3 billion.

And it's most unsafe. We've known for four years the Shield Building, its concrete containment, is severely cracked. And the cracking grows worse every time it freezes at the site – numerous times each year.

If its core melts down, its cracked shell won't contain the catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity. And Davis-Besse has had more close calls with disaster than any other U.S. reactor.

For all these reasons, Davis-Besse should retire, as planned, on Earth Day, 2017.

Kevin Kamps,

Takoma Park, MD

Kamps serves as radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, which has intervened against Davis-Besse's 2017-2037 operating license extension.