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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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Friday
Apr122019

Revised Ohio nuclear ‘bailout’ bill raises more questions

Thursday
Jan312019

Trump & Perry tried bailing out old reactors during the last polar vortex. Will they try again this time?!

See the article in the Washington Post.

It reports:

Earlier in President Trump's administration, however, the Energy Department also pitched a more controversial proposal to keep electricity flowing during cold snaps. The department said such polar vortices are reasons to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants. 

Perry said that only those two types of power generation could assure grid reliability because they, unlike gas and renewable energy generators, could keep a 90-day supply of fuel on site. But critics of the plan saw it as a ham-handed effort to prop up Trump's political allies in the coal business.

The independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ended up agreeing with those naysayers. In a binding decision last year, all five of its commissioners, including four appointed by Trump, rejected the Trump administration's plan.

This begs the question: will President Trump and Energy Secretary Perry try again to bail out dangerously old reactors, at public expense, citing the current polar vortex?!

Of course, Trump and Perry's nuclear bailout push ignores the fact that atomic reactors have experienced unplanned and abrupt shutdowns -- as at Pilgrim in MA -- during severe winter weather, when their electricity was needed most.

According to FirstEnergy Nuclear, its Davis-Besse atomic reactor Shield Building was severely cracked by the Blizzard of 1978. After years of denying it, FirstEnergy then admitted that the Shield Building continues to crack, with every freeze-thaw cycle. Thus, instead of providing reliable electricity during severe winter weather, Davis-Besse's electricity becomes more and more dangerous to provide as time goes on. Failure of the Shield Building -- such as concrete spalling from the exterior face -- would not only fail to contain the large-scale releases of hazardous radioactivity during a meltdown; remarkably, the Shield Building's failure could cause the meltdown in the first place, as large chunks of heavy concrete fell on safety-significant systems, structures, and components below.

Trump and Perry are also ignoring the promise of renewable sources' electricity during severe winter weather -- geographically distributed microgrids electrified by wind power and solar power, for example, could provide safe, secure, clean, and affordable electricity, in a reliable and resilient manner, during even extreme winter conditions.

Frighteningly, the latest Trump appointee to FERC -- Bernard McNamee -- previously worked as the lawyer at DOE in charge of writing up the old nuclear and coal plant bailout, that FERC then rejected. Despite his obvious conflict of interest, McNamee has refused to recuse himself from voting on such a nuclear and coal bailout in the future.

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.