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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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Tuesday
Dec232014

FirstEnergy seeks multi-billion dollar ratepayer bailout in Ohio to prop up dirty, dangerous, and uncompetitive coal burner & atomic reactor

NRC file photo of Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Oak Harbor, OH on Lake Erie shoreAs reported by John Funk in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, in an article entitled "FirstEnergy rate deal to cost customers an extra $3 billion, says Consumers' Counsel," Ohio-based FirstEnergy electric utility is trying to force ratepayers to prop up two uncompetitive plants. The Davis-Besse atomic reactor is located on the shore of Lake Erie east of Toledo (photo, left), and the Sammis coal burner is located on the banks of the Ohio River in southern Ohio. The bailout would cost Ohio ratepayers $182 million per year. Davis-Besse and Sammis can't compete with other sources of electricity on the wholesale market, including wind power.

Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign has published a backgrounder on the Sammis coal plant.

The Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Committee has published a backgrounder on the Davis-Besse atomic reactor.

Beyond Nuclear plans to testify at public hearings before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) that the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor should be retired, as planned, on Earth Day (April 22), 2017, the day its 40-year license expires, if not even sooner. This is not only an economic imperative, but also a safety and environmental necessity.

Ohio ratepayers are encouraged to attend the PUCO hearings, and speak out, in defense of their pocket books, as well as their health and environment. The hearings will take place at/on:

Akron: Monday, January 12, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. at the Oliver R. Ocasek Government Center, 161 S. High St.

Toledo: Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. at the Michael V. Disalle  Government Center, County Commissioners Hearing Room, 1st Floor, 640 Jackson St. (Between Huron and Erie Street)

Cleveland: Tuesday, January 20, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. at Cleveland City Hall, Council Chambers, 2d Floor, Room 216, 601 Lakeside Ave.

 

Resisting Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension


Beyond Nuclear has joined with allies (Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario (CEA), Don't Waste MI (DWM), Green Party of Ohio) to resist Davis-Besse's 2017-2037 license extension since late 2010, and put out a backgrounder at that time regarding the reactor's many close calls with disaster.

The intervention expanded to challenging Davis-Besse's severely cracked concrete Shield Building in 2012.

In 2013, Beyond Nuclear (along with CEA, DWM, and Sierra Club Ohio Chapter) challenged Davis-Besse's experimental steam generator replacement, now underway. Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., served as expert witness.

Also in 2013, FirstEnergy admitted the cracking had grown worse, something it (and NRC staff) had adamently denied was possible. In 2014, FirstEnergy admitted that each and every time it freezes at Davis-Besse -- many times each year -- the cracks grow 0.4 to 0.7 inches! The intervening environmental coalition has filed multiple contentions related to these latest FirstEnergy admissions.

Attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as legal counsel for the environmental coalitions engaged in both proceedings.

Given the concrete containment cracking of a Crystal River, FL (permanently closed in 2013), the experimental steam generator replacement of a San Onofre, CA (two reactors permanently closed in 2013), and the age-degradation and economic uncompetitiveness of a Kewaunee, WI (permanently closed in 2013) and Vermont Yankee (permanently closed on 12/29/2014), it is high time for Davis-Besse to permanently shut down!

Monday
Jun092014

Markey, Burgess Release Report Showing Legal Concerns over Energy Dept.’s Deals with Uranium Enriching Company

U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)A new GAO report, requested by U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass., photo left) and U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), finds that the shuttered U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC) facility received hundreds of millions of dollars worth of uranium, while ignoring laws and losing taxpayer money.

The report details a pattern of actions by DOE that kept USEC’s facility in Paducah, Kentucky open and subsidized the development of questionable centrifuge technology at its Ohio facility, even as the company was rated as junk bond status, threatened with de-listing from the New York Stock Exchange, and ultimately spiraled into bankruptcy.

USEC was seeking a $2 billion federal taxpayer-backed loan guarantee for its American Centrifuge uranium enrichment plant in Portsmouth (Piketon), Ohio, but the deal fell apart amidst USEC's financial "meltdown," as well as due to technical difficulties with the technology's development.

“Our government has kept this uranium company on life support, wasting money and flouting the law, even though it was clear that it would end up in bankruptcy. This is the kind of government waste that Americans just don’t understand,” said Senator Markey, who is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “It’s time to commit this junk technology to the junk bin.”

Some of the uranium involved is associated with supplying replacement tritium for U.S. nuclear weapons.

Sen. Markey has issued a press release, including a summary, and a link to the full 112-page GAO report.

Wednesday
Apr302014

"Exelon CEO: 'We are not asking the state for a bailout'"

David Kraft, Director, Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of ILThe Chicago Tribune reports that Exelon CEO Chris Crane denies the largest nuclear utility in the U.S. is seeking a bailout from the State of Illinois in order to stabilize its flagging fleet of atomic reactors:

'Crane told the Tribune Wednesday that a legislative fix is not in the offing.

“We are not – are not – asking the state for a bailout,” he said. “We are looking at different ways to contract/ sell energy from those plants into other markets, into other buyers, but there is not a state bailout.”

Crane said the company does not support subsidies for wind and does not support a 500-mile high voltage transmission line project pending approval at the Illinois Commerce Commission that would bring more wind into the state from Iowa.

“We are not considering a legislative fix to subsidize the nuclear plants in the state,” Crane said in an interview. ‘That is not anything we are working on.”'

On Nov. 6, 2013, E&E's reporter at Greenwire reported on Exelon's hypocricy in an article entitled "Nuclear giant taps wind tax credit that it's trying to kill."

As watchdog Dave Kraft (photo, above left), Director of Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) in IL, points out, Exelon's denial of seeking a state bailout comes on the very same day it announced the takeover of Washington, D.C. area electrical utility PEPCO: "This may be the case -- for now. Who would need a bailout when all one has to do is 'buy' a marketful of unwilling sheeple, who would legally be available for fleecing?  And if the merger is not approved (as the Washington DC PUC will have something to say about this, and hasn't been favorable granting this type of merger in the past to even smaller nuclear-reliant utilities), Crane can always come back to Springfield at a later date to try again."

Dave published an analysis on March 3, 2014, "Exelon Nuclear -- Holding Illinois Hostage Yet Again?", as well as a related April 27th fact sheet, NO RATEPAYER BAILOUTS FOR EXELON’S “NUCLEAR HOSTAGE CRISIS."

Wednesday
Apr232014

Radioactive "Moral Hazard": DOE loans, and guarantees, $6.5 billion for two new reactors for a 0%, $0.00 credit subsidy fee!

Aerial image of Plant Vogtle Nuclear Generating Station - photo credit to High Flyer. The photo shows the operating Units 1 and 2, as well as the construction site for proposed new Units 3 and 4.

On top of the long list of wasteful subsidies the public has been forced to lavish on nuclear power, thanks to industry lobbyists' sway on the highest levels of the U.S. government, add a new one: a $0.00 credit subsidy fee for a $6.5 billion taxpayer-backed loan to build two new reactors.

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy reports in a press release entitled "New Documents Confirm Utility Giant Southern Company Gets Sweetheart Deal from Energy Department for Multi-Billion Nuclear Loan Guarantees for Vogtle Reactors":

"As revealed today in an Energy & Environment News story by Hannah Northey, the credit subsidy fee for utility giant Southern Company and its utility partner, Oglethorpe Power, for billions of dollars in taxpayer-backed federal loan guarantees, is nothing, $0. This shocking information was disclosed two months after the Department of Energy (DOE) finalized terms of $6.5 billion worth of loan guarantees that were offered as part of an $8.3 billion package to build two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia. A third partner in the project, MEAG, has yet to have their $1.8 billion loan guarantee finalized."

Please register your disapproval of this nuclear sweetheart deal, at taxpayer expense and risk, to President Obama, your two U.S. Senators, and your U.S. Representative! You can be patched through to your Members of Congress via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

More.

Friday
Mar282014

RMI: "Nuclear Power's Competitive Landscape and Climate Opportunity Cost"

Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, RMITitiaan Palazzi, Special Aid, RMIAmory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, and Titiaan Palazzi, Special Aid (photos, left), of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, CO, presented "Nuclear Power's Competitive Landscape and Climate Opportunity Cost" at "Three Mile Island 35th Anniversary Symposium: The Past, Present, and Future of Nuclear Energy" held at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, on 28 March 2014.

Lovins and Palazzi report that, when compared to nuclear power: (1) Efficiency and renewables are far cheaper; (2) Renewables can deliver similar or better service and reliability; (3) Renewables can scale faster;  and (4) For climate protection, efficiency and renewables are far more effective solutions than new nuclear build, which indeed is counterproductive.

Lovins and Palazzi's economic critique extends not only to proposed new atomic reactors, but even to existing, age-degraded reactors. They state "Reactors are promoted as costly to build but cheap to run. Yet as Daniel Allegretti ably described, many existing, long-paid-for U.S. reactors are now starting to be shut down because just their operating cost can no longer compete with wholesale power prices, typically depressed by gas-fired plants or windpower."

Speaking about new build, they point out that "five U.S. units enjoy special nonmarket conditions." These include two proposed new reactors, Vogtle 3 & 4, in Georgia, and two new proposed reactors, Summer 2 & 3, in South Carolina. All four enjoy construction work in progress (CWIP) "nuclear tax" surcharges on ratepayer electricity bills, while Vogtle 3 & 4 also enjoy $8.3 billion in federal taxpayer-guaranteed loans.

Lovins and Palazzi conclude that "efficiency is clearly cheaper than average nuclear operating costs, which exceed 4¢/kWh [4 cents per kilowatt-hour] at the busbar and 8¢ delivered. Thus overall, for saving coal plants’ carbon emissions, efficiency is about 10–50x more cost-effective than new nuclear build—or about 2–12x more cost-effective than just operating the average U.S. nuclear plant."

Regarding nuclear power's retreat, Lovins and Palazzi report:

"Nuclear power also has to run ever faster to stay in the same place as its 1970s and 1980s growth turns into a bulge  of retirements. After the next few years, retirements will exceed all planned or conceivable global nuclear additions, even with all license extensions as shown here. Power reactors’ terminal decline will be over by about 2060—and in view of both competition and aging, this projection by Mycle Schneider [Mycle Schneider et al., World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013] is more likely to overstate its longevity than its brevity."
They conclude their presentation by stating: "So whether you choose e fficiency, cogeneration, or renewables, just being nearly carbon-free does not make new nuclear build an effective climate solution. Rather, because it saves ~3–50x less carbon per dollar than its main competitors, and deploys slower, new nuclear build reduces and retards climate protection. If climate is a problem, we must invest judiciously, not indiscriminately, to get the most solution per dollar and per year. Anything less makes the problem worse. Nor do we need nuclear power to offset PVs’ and windpower’s variability, or to scale faster than renewables, or to save or make money, because, as we’ve seen, nuclear power cannot do any of these things. So there is no reason to build more nuclear plants. Capital markets, seeing big new costs and risks without offsetting benefits, long ago reached the same conclusion. Existing nuclear plants, a future idea whose time has passed, will simply retire; the only choice is how quickly and at what cost to whom. End of story." (bold added)