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.



Competition drives nuclear industry to look for millions in subsidies 

As reported by Steven Mufson in the Washington Post.

The article quotes Tim Judson of NIRS:

“There is no doubt that renewables have also received financial supports, through tax and investment credits, etc.,” Tim Judson, of the Nuclear Information Research Service, said in an email. “But the federal incentives have been far less consistent and are phasing out, whereas supports for nuclear are perpetual and now increasing.”

Judson said, “What we are debating now is whether old, uneconomical generators should be subsidized when new technology has become more viable.”

Jeff Tittel of Sierra Club was also quoted:

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, argued that there was little justification for the subsidy. PSEG earned $1.6 billion last year and has a market value of $26 billion. It recently boosted its dividend by 4.7 percent.

“The utility has not been able to prove [its] need for the subsidy in the first place,” he said. “This is a huge giveaway to PSEG at the expense of the ratepayers and environment of New Jersey.”


FirstEnergy still fighting to shield power plants from ‘uncertainties’ of competition

FirstEnergy’s request for an emergency order isn’t the only play to bolster coal and nuclear plants at customers’ expense.

As reported by Kathiann M. Kowalski at Energy News Network.


FirstEnergy reaches agreement with itself, declares victory in coal/nuclear power plant bankruptcy

No, this is not a headline in the Onion. But it is a more truthful translation of this headline in FirstEnergy's company town paper, the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal: "FirstEnergy announces agreement with key creditors in FirstEnergy Solutions bankruptcy filing, reports ‘strong’ first-quarter earnings."

As can be read between the lines in the article, FirstEnergy's top priority is to protect its motherlode of wealth, the mothership of its enterprise, by extricating it from having anything to do with the bankruptcy at its coal and nuclear power plants.

Thank goodness for all those layers of protection against legal and financial liability, eh? FirstEnergy has gotten its money's worth for all those high-priced lawyers and accountants, that came up with these layers and layers of holding companies over the years -- and particularly recently, as the ship began to really go down! -- just for such a predicament!

The bankruptcy has resulted from not years, but decades, of bad business decisions and mismanagement.

Those who have made those bad decisions are paid very lucrative salaries. FirstEnergy's CEO, for example, makes $15 million per year, a 50% raise since he took the reins at the company in 2010.

FirstEnergy shareholders/investors too are protected.

But what about ratepayers? FirstEnergy has made an emergency appeal to the Trump Dept. of Energy for a massive bailout that would cost electric consumers from the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest, in 13 states plus D.C., a whopping $8 billion annually (yes, with a B!). The emergency petition, filed under an obscure 1950's law, usually reserved for national emergnecies like war or natural disaster (not bad business decisions!), would prop up not only FirstEnergy's several old, dirty, and dangerous coal and nuclear plants, but all 80 coal and nuclear plants, owned by numerous companies, in the PJM electric grid, stretching from North Carolina to Illinois.

The Wall Street Journal and Crain's Cleveland Business have also reported on this story (but the articles are behind pay walls).


FirstEnergy files plan to permanently deactivate three nuclear power plants

As reported by Seeking Alpha:

FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions says it has formally notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its decision to permanently deactivate its three nuclear power plants over the next three years, citing "severe economic challenges."

"We are actively seeking policy solutions at the state and federal level as an alternative to retiring these plants, which we believe still have a crucial role to play in the reliability and resilience of our regional grid," says Don Moul, president of FES Generation Companies.

The closure of the plants - two in Ohio and one in Pennsylvania - will affect ~2,300 employees.

FES, its subsidiaries and FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

But this game of bait and switch also got played in New York State, as well as Illinois. Reactor closure announcements, and even filing of official closure paperwork with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was used as leverage to secure massive bailouts, at ratepayer expense. Then the official paperwork got withdrawn, nullified by more official paperwork. Dave Kraft of Nuclear Energy Info. Service in Chicago checked in with NRC on these paperwork shenanigans, and got explicit word back from the agency that yes indeed, the official paperwork notifying the agency of a reactor's scheduled closure can simply be countermanded, at any point in time.


Grasping for reason with FirstEnergy