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Subsidies

The nuclear industry has been heavily subsidized throughout its 50+-year history in the U.S. It continues to seek the lion's share of federal funding since it cannot otherwise afford to expand.

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Saturday
Aug182018

Vigilance needed against FirstEnergy Nuclear's attempted ratepayer/taxpayer robbery to prop up dangerously old atomic reactors

As reported by the Fremont (Ohio) News-Messenger: "Perry, Davis-Besse nuclear power plants move one step closer to deactivation."

However, as Akron, OH-based FirstEnergy officials make clear in their quotes in the article, the company's lobbyists' quest continues for state-level bailouts (as from the state legislatures in OH and PA -- FirstEnergy also owns/operates Beaver Valley in Shippingport near Pittsburgh), regional bailouts (as from the PJM grid operator), and even federal bailouts.

Re: the latter, NIRS, Public Citizen, and UCS board member Peter Bradford recently reported that the FirstEnergy so-called "emergency request" (bending old laws to the breaking point) to President Trump and Energy Secretary Perry, if approved, could cost the public (ratepayers and taxpayers) a total of $34 billion (yes, with a B) per year, half in old nuke bailouts, and half in old coal bailouts.

Obviously, FirstEnergy's announced closure dates for its atomic reactors at Perry, Davis-Besse, and Beaver Valley must be viewed with deep skepticism. Multiple announced reactor closure dates in NY and IL were simply reversed, when massive public bailouts were awarded, to keep dangerously old reactors operating. The announced closures were simply used as a lobbying ploy to secure bailouts -- the nuclear power plant workers' jobs, local tax revenues, etc., were threatened, till complicit decision makers went along -- at public expense, and increasing safety risk to countless communities downwind and downstream.

Here are links to related media coverage:

Thursday
May242018

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.”

Nora Brownell, who was a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under President George W. Bush, was also quoted:

When it comes to nuclear power, “we need a new model without putting an extraordinary hidden tax on ratepayers,” said Nora Brownell, who was a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under President George W. Bush. She called the New Jersey move “uneconomic, unfair and unrealistic” and said “it will totally screw up [electricity] markets.” Brownell, who has her own consulting firm, said the New Jersey plan is “greed disguised as green.”

Tuesday
May222018

PJM auction will not stop nuclear units from retiring: analysts

As reported by Reuters.

The article quotes Tim Judson of NIRS:

“The reactors in question are so uneconomical and uncompetitive that the capacity market simply cannot deliver enough revenue to change their fortunes,” said Tim Judson, executive director at the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, which seeks to shut nuclear plants.

Monday
Feb262018

Fermi 3 -- the resistance moves to the money

Of some three-dozen proposed new “Nuclear Renaissance” atomic reactors, none have been built. Those that did break ground include Summer Units 2 and 3 in South Carolina, and Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in Georgia. The South Carolina new build was cancelled, wasting $9 billion of ratepayer money, after the bankruptcy of reactor vendor/builder Westinghouse Nuclear last spring. The Georgia new build, also years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, is also increasingly at risk of going belly up. $12 billion of federal taxpayer money, in the form of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantees, is at risk, in addition to many billions of dollars of ratepayer money. If Fermi 3 breaks ground, DTE could similarly apply for some $10+ billion remaining in the DOE nuclear loan guarantee fund, as well as major ratepayer electric bill “nuclear tax” surcharges, to finance construction.

Monday
Feb122018

Exelon Confident in Nuclear Support Programs (at ratepayer expense!)

As reported by RTO Insider.

As the article reports, Exelon's lobbying juggernaut is pulling out all stops, to gouge ratepayers at every possible turn:

“Since our last earnings call, we continue to see positive momentum for policy changes … at state, FERC and RTO levels,” said Joe Dominguez, vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs and public policy.

FERC is short for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A Trump administration proposal to subsidize old coal and nuclear power plants, to the tune of $180 billion, at ratepayer expense, over time, was recently blocked by a coalition of environmental, public interest, and consumer groups.

RTO is short for Regional Transmission Organization. That is where the Trump administration proposal and Exelon money grab attempt has now moved, to RTOs such as PJM (short for Pennsylania, Jersey, Maryland, a 13-state RTO stretching from the Atlantic to Illinois).

Critics got about one single line in the article:

According to its critics, Exelon is seeking subsidies for plants that are no longer economical to operate.