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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
Jan102015

Davis-Besse: Economic powerhouse, or house of cards?

"Nuclear power burning money" image, created by Gene Case of Avenging Angels, was featured on the cover of The Nation magazine. Used with permission of the artist.As reported by FierceEnergy, First Energy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) commissioned the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI, of which it is a leading member utility) to publish a report on the economic benefits brought by the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor to the Ohio economy.

Apparently, unlike in Illinois, where Exelon pressured th state legislature to order state agencies to write the report, FENOC had to turn to its own trade association and lobbying arm to do it. So much for even the pretense of objectivity. (But even the IL state agency reports showed the sky would not fall if Exelon's five reactors closed!)

Here is what Tim Judson, Executive Director of NIRS, had to say about the FENOC/NEI report:

"FirstEnergy and NEI are out with their own Exelon-like report claiming that Davis-Besse is indispensable. Might be good to cite to the Illinois agencies’ report yesterday saying Exelon and NEI basically exaggerated their doomsday predictions. The fact that Davis-Besse is only like 5% of the state’s generation capacity ought to make this whole thing laughable – especially given the untapped renewable energy and efficiency potential after the state suspended them last year – but the [FierceEnergy] article below also leaves out the piece that FirstEnergy is demanding at least a $182 million/year subsidy to keep [Davis-Besse] and its coal plants online.

That is actually based on the average contract price for all four plants FirstEnergy is trying to include in the contract. In reality, [Davis-Besse's] operating costs are higher than the coal plants – especially considering [FirstEnergy] is likely including the cost of replacing the steam generators (and, who knows, the shield [building] wall?). So the portion that is Davis-Besse costs are probably at least at the $71/MWh level Exelon is likely seeking for Ginna in New York, and maybe higher. But at that level, the ratepayer subsidy for Davis-Besse would be more in the $225 million/year range. Again, that would be a total cost above the market price of electricity."

Friday
Jan092015

"Has Exelon been crying wolf?"

A map of Nuclear Illinois, prepared by NEISAs reported by Kari Lydersen of Midwest Energy News in an article entitled "Illinois report says Exelon nuclear straits not so dire," a massive bailout of $580 million per year at ratepayer expense may not be justified. Chicago-based Exelon, the country's single largest nuclear utility, has lobbied the Illinois legislature for the hand out, in order to prop up five (of 11 still operating) atomic reactors in the state, at risk of closure due to their inability to economically compete on the open market. This report was mandated by a legislative resolution rammed through over public objections earlier this year due to Exelon lobbyist pressure.

David Kraft, Executive Director of Chicago-based Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), was quoted:

“It’s only as bad as the state losing any other large employer...With proper response and planning, Illinois can get through this, and be stronger and further ahead in developing a true long-term energy plan than it otherwise would have done.”

Kraft said nuclear critics are still furious about the process resulting from the House resolution, which he characterized as “panic-peddling” driven by “half-truths.” He was upset there was no public input or oversight involved in the agencies’ report, but he is encouraged by the result nonetheless.

“Even though Exelon did their best to convince everyone that the sky is falling here in Illinois,” he said, “Even a poorly mandated, non-funded, abstract-model-heavy analysis could not reach that conclusion.”

See the map of Nuclear Illinois, prepared by NEIS (above, left). To see a larger format version of the map, and to learn more about Nuclear Illinois, visit NEIS's website section devoted to the topic.

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!

Wednesday
Oct082014

"IEEFA: FirstEnergy financial condition unlikely to improve"

As reported by FierceEnergy, FirstEnergy has essentially declared war on renewables and efficiency, and is attempting to massively gouge ratepayers, as well as taxpayers, to prop up failing plants like its Davis-Besse atomic reactor. This according to a report by IEEFA -- the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

The article quotes Tom Sanzillo, IEEFA's director of finance:

"FirstEnergy's CEO has called this the 'lost decade. But it has not been a lost decade for other utilities investing in renewables and alternatives to coal,'" Sanzillo said. "FirstEnergy's corporate leadership is lost, and they are asking shareholders, ratepayers and government officials to pay for their management blackout."

Monday
Oct062014

"FirstEnergy: A Major Utility Seeks a Subsidized Turnaround"

IEEFA (the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis) has published a report, FirstEnergy: A Major Utility Seeks a Subsidized Turnaround. It is written by Tom Sanzillo, IEEFA Director of Finance, and Cathy Kunkel, IEEFA Fellow. It includes analysis of FirstEnergy's proposal to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, for a multi-billion dollar ratepayer bailout of FirstEnergy's Sammis and OVEC coal burners, as well as its Davis-Besse atomic reactor.