The Nuclear Retreat

We coined the term, "Nuclear Retreat" here at Beyond Nuclear to counter the nuclear industry's preposterous "nuclear renaissance" propaganda campaign. You've probably seen "Nuclear Retreat" picked up elsewhere and no wonder - the alleged nuclear revival so far looks more like a lot of running away. On this page we will keep tabs on every latest nuclear retreat as more and more proposed new nuclear programs are canceled.



Nucler power's “managerial disaster” still true 30-years later  

Forbes magazine’s February 11, 1985 cover story headlined “Nuclear Follies.” The business investment journal wrote “The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale… only the blind or the biased can now think that the money has been well spent.” 

Fast forward thirty years, we see the nuclear industry still imploding.  The “blind or biased” now include industry front groups like “Nuclear Matters” arguing that American taxpayers and ratepayers should still be bailing out the teetering industry at any cost.  Ex-Environmental Protection Agency head Carol Browner and former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg were recently stumping in Northern Ohio on behalf of industry to keep the deteriorating nuclear power plant there from closing.  However, their effort to spin the continued demise of dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear power as a critical missed opportunity completely ignores the historic context that Forbes benchmarked decades ago for the business investment community. Nuclear power is fundamentally uneconomical. It has failed in the U.S. market economy and continues to fail worldwide.

Browner and Gregg’s snapshot of the remaining 99 U.S. reactors being down from 104 units needs to be put into an accurate historical context. In fact, the remaining 99 reactors are down from the 133 units originally licensed to commercially operate, which are down from 227 units that applied for construction permits and down again from 253 units ordered by the U.S. industry. This steady retreat is actually down from the 1,000 reactors that President Nixon’s “Project Independence” said would be operational by the year 2000.  

In fact, what Browner, Gregg and their cohorts are suggesting is that the American people invest even more to prop up what Forbes then cautioned investors “is a defeat for the U.S. consumer and the competitiveness of U.S. industry, for the utilities that undertook the program and for the private enterprise system that made it possible.”

The nuclear industry is being priced out of the energy service market and at the same time becoming increasingly dangerous as a result of financial shortcuts and regulatory capture. The good news is that nuclear power is being replaced by rapidly growing solar and wind energy industries, energy efficiency and conservation. No surprise that Nuclear Matters, which is funded by the nuclear giant Exelon Corporation, would have the American consumers put the brakes on a 21st Century of  affordable and renewable energy competition and instead stay the course with a rerun of Forbes’ 1985 warning.


Exelon's Ginna atomic reactor in upstate NY also at risk of near-term shutdown

NRC file photo of Exelon's Ginna atomic reactor on the Lake Ontario shore of upstate NY near RochesterAs reported by the Democrat and Chronicle, Exelon Nuclear's Ginna atomic reactor -- one of the oldest in the U.S. -- is at risk of near-term shutdown. Dr. Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School, in his July 2013 report Renaissance in Reverse, identified Ginna as one of a dozen atomic reactors across the U.S. most at risk of near-term, permanent shutdown, for a variety of safety, financial, and societal reasons.

The 45-year-old Ginna reactor is located in Ontario, NY, near Rochester, on the shoreline of Lake Ontario (photo, left).

It joins five of Exelon's atomic reactors in the utility's home state of IL at risk of permanent closure due to economic uncompetitiveness. Just yesterday, Public Citizen, Maryland PIRG, and others protested at Exelon's Baltimore HQ against the utility's attempt to plunder Mid-Atlantic ratepayers to prop up its failing reactors across the country.

Exelon is also trying to stick it to IL ratepayers, but is not alone in the attempted gouging of its own customers: FirstEnergy has sought permission to overcharge Ohio ratepayers to the tune of billions, to prop up its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor near Toledo on the Lake Erie shore, as well as a dirty coal plant on the Ohio River. See Beyond Nuclear's "Nuclear Costs" website section for more news on these and related issues.


Beyond Nuclear on Forthright Radio

Host Joy LaClaire interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps on "Forthright Radio" on KZYX.

Their discussion ranged over a variety of subject matter, from the grassroots victory of Vermont Yankee's permanent shutdown and the decommissioning challenges ahead, to the collusion between the nuclear power industry and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (and what people can do about it), and beyond.

(Note: there is a sound quality problem at the very beginning of the program, but it clears up after a minute or two.)


Exelon drive to takeover Pepco aimed at fleecing ratepayers to prop up failing atomic reactors

ORGANIZE!As reported by David Roberts at Grist, Exelon Nuclear proposed takeover of Pepco represents a "Big, nuke-heavy utility looking for new ratepayers to fleece." It is part and parcel of Exelon's desperate bid to keep its dirty, dangerous, uncompetitive, aging nuclear power reactor fleet afloat. But anti-nuclear and environmental groups, the public interest movement, businesses, and consumer and ratepayer advocates are fighting back.

A big part of that push back, as by the coalition called PowerDC, is to promote distributed rooftop solar on residences and small businesses throughout the District of Columbia. Given its behavior elsewhere in the country, Exelon's takeover of Pepco could seriously undermine DC's progressive, mandated energy efficiency and renewable energy goals.


"District should reject Exelon-Pepco merger, energy think tank says in report"

Exelon has warned that, without massive ratepayer subsidies, several of its age-degraded atomic reactors in Illinois could face permanet shutdown. But Exelon's intent to gouge ratepayers isn't limited to its home state of IL. It is attempting to takeover a major Mid-Atlantic regional electricity provider, Pepco, and gouge its ratepayers as well.

As reported by the Washington Post, the Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has warned the Washington, D.C. Public Utility Commission against approving the Exelon Nuclear/Pepco merger, "in part because Exelon’s business model relies too heavily on an aging group of nuclear power plants."

In a bid to prop up its dirty, dangerous, and uncompetitive fleet of atomic reactors, Exelon would gouge Mid-Atlantic ratepayers on their electricity bills. At the same time, it would likely lobby to undermine progressive renewable power and energy efficiency strides already made in such places as Maryland and D.C.

The article reports:

“Exelon’s shaky financial position gives it an incentive to raise rates, as it has done four times with Baltimore Gas & Electric just since 2012,” Cathy Kunkel, an IEEFA Fellow and the lead author, wrote in an e-mail. “The merger would weaken D.C.’s control over its electric utility and jeopardize progress toward the city’s renewable energy goals.”

Dcist has also reported on this story.