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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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Thursday
Sep032015

VOX: "This Ohio utility has an innovative plan to save coal power: force customers to buy it"

A FirstEnergy ratepayer (Shutterstock). In fact, AARP has spoken out forcefully against the FirstEnergy bailout, as at PUCO public comment hearings in Akron, OH -- FirstEnergy's hometown -- in Jan. 2015.Should we laugh or cry? David Roberts has written an appropriately sarcastic, comprehensive review of FirstEnergy's attempt to gouge Ohio ratepayers to the tune of $3 billion over the next 15 years, to prop up its uncompetitive Davis-Besse atom-splitter on the Lake Erie shore, and its climate-fouling Sammis coal burner on the banks of the Ohio River.

Never mind that a decade ago, FirstEnergy lobbyists led the charge for "deregulation." Now, they're leading the charge for killing the competition (efficiency and renewables), as NIRS executive director Tim Judson has put it. And they're leading the charge for this ratepayer bailout.

Roberts' humorous, insightful article begins:

A power utility in Ohio is attempting to shaft its own customers in a manner so shameless as to defy description. Yet describe it we must, for it represents everything backward and perverse in the electricity sector and reveals that the interests of the institutions that provide electricity have come fundamentally out of sync with the interests of the citizens who depend on it.

Plus it's pretty funny, in a morbid sort of way. You almost have to admire the chutzpah. But to understand it takes a little explaining. Here's the TL;DR [Too Long; Didn't Read] version...

Thursday
Sep032015

Just say no to nuclear subsidies: "FirstEnergy cannot call Davis-Besse power plant reliable"

Beyond Nuclear just got this letter to the editor published at the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

To his credit, PUCO chair Andre Porter prioritized safety, in addition to reliability and cost, when it comes to Ohio's electricity supply ("PUCO Chair Andre Porter sees big changes coming for power companies," Plain Dealer, Aug. 30). FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse atomic reactor fails all three tests, but none more potentially catastrophically so than safety.

How can Davis-Besse be called reliable, when it shut down from 2002 to 2004 in the aftermath of the reactor lid corrosion "Hole in the Head Fiasco"? In fact, that $600 million boondoggle left no money to trim trees, leading to the second biggest power outage in history, 12 years ago.

Obviously, Davis-Besse is not cost competitive if it's part of FirstEnergy's request to PUCO for permission to gouge Ohio ratepayers to the tune of $3 billion.

And it's most unsafe. We've known for four years the Shield Building, its concrete containment, is severely cracked. And the cracking grows worse every time it freezes at the site – numerous times each year.

If its core melts down, its cracked shell won't contain the catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity. And Davis-Besse has had more close calls with disaster than any other U.S. reactor.

For all these reasons, Davis-Besse should retire, as planned, on Earth Day, 2017.

Kevin Kamps,

Takoma Park, MD

Kamps serves as radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, which has intervened against Davis-Besse's 2017-2037 operating license extension.

Thursday
Sep032015

"Protests greet FirstEnergy rate request hearings"

Photo compliments of Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear-Free CommitteeJim Provance, Columbus Bureau Chief for the Toledo Blade, has reported on "Protests greet FirstEnergy rate request hearings."

The protest took place at the HQ of PUCO, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, in the state capital, Columbus. It marked the beginning of weeks of formal hearings, where PUCO will consider FirstEnergy's requested ratepayer bailout.

The article quotes Harvey Wasserman, senior advisor to Greenpeace U.S.A. as well as NIRS, advocating the carbon-free, nuclear-free "Solartopian" energy future of efficiency and renewables.

The article also quotes Neil Waggoner, spokesman for Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, which is officially intervening against FirstEnergy's request for $3 billion of ratepayer money, to prop up its uncompetitive Davis-Besse atomic reactor, and Sammis coal burner.

Bob Fritrakis of Columbus Free Press, as well as Pat Marida of Ohio Sierra Club's Nuclear-Free Committe, also spoke. Musician Brian Clash performed. Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Committee has posted photos, including the one above (see Beyond Nuclear's pamphlet "Dirty, Dangerous, and Expensive: The Verdict is in on Nuclear Power," penned by board member Kay Drey of St. Louis, MO).

Beyond Nuclear, along with Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste MI, and Ohio Green Party, have been intervening against Davis-Besse's 2017-2037 license extension since Dec. 27, 2010. Attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as the coalition's legal counsel.

Recently, Beyond Nuclear sued the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) over its Nuclear Waste Confidence policy, alleging violations of the Atomic Energy Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedures Act. The lawsuit is before the federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the second highest court in the land, just under the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeal is the latest action by Beyond Nuclear to challenge Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension. Beyond Nuclear's legal counsel include Diane Curran of Washington, D.C., and Mindy Goldstein of Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University in Atlanta.

 

Wednesday
Sep022015

Wal-Mart on FirstEnergy's Ohio power proposal: 'Simply not appropriate'

As reported by Columbus Business First, the retail giant Wal-Mart has spoken out in the strongest possible terms against FirstEnergy's attempt to gouge ratepayers -- including businesses -- in order to prop up its uncompetitive Davis-Besse atomic reactor and Sammis coal burner.

The Ohio Consumers Counsel has estimated the bailout would cost ratepayers $3 billion over the next 15 years, if it is approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).

Beyond Nuclear has opposed Davis-Besse's 2017-2037 license extension for the past five years. This included oral testimony at PUCO public hearings in Akron and Toledo last January, as well as written comments to PUCO since. Most recently, Beyond Nuclear has taken the fight to the second highest court in the land, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeal alleges that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has violated the Atomic Energy Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedures Act. A favorable court ruling would strike a blow to Davis-Besse's bid for a 20-year license extension.

Columbus Business First also reported on the first day of the FirstEnergy bailout hearing before PUCO, with an article entitled "Who cares about FirstEnergy's power plan? Ohio's manufacturers, hospitals and retailers, for starters."

Tuesday
Sep012015

"Exelon plans cost cuts, won't rule out layoffs"

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Illinois-based Exelon Nuclear has warned its employees that layoffs may lie ahead, as five atomic reactors in the state continue to hemorrhage money.

Exelon has been buffeted recently. The Washington, D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC) rejected Exelon's proposed takeover of Mid-Atlantic utility Pepco. The PJM capacity auction left Exelon reactors in three states in the lurch. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan did not give nuclear lobbyists, especially at Exelon, what they wanted. And the Illinois State Legislature went on summer recess on May 31st, without giving Exelon the $1.5 billion bailout it requested, at ratepayer expense, to prop up its uncompetitive reactors.

During testimony under oath before the DC PSC, Exelon Nuclear CEO Chris Crane, who wrote the memo that prompted the Chicago Tribune article above, also indicated that should Exelon takeover Pepco, job cuts at Pepco will follow. Exelon and Pepco have made known they plan to appeal the DC PSC's rejection by the 30-day deadline.