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By Geoffrey Styles on Jun 14, 2013 with 27 responses

Early Retirement of Nuclear Plants Is a Step Backward

Half of California’s Nuclear Generating Capacity Shut Down

I’m still digesting last week’s announcement by Southern California Edison that the utility’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in Southern California will close permanently, nine years prior to the expiration of the facility’s operating license. The plant’s two nuclear reactors were shut down for repairs in early 2012, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) still hadn’t approved the company’s plan to restart them, despite a protracted review. Although this event is quite different from the 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan, its ripples are likely to extend beyond California, where both the state’s electricity market and its greenhouse gas emissions will be adversely affected.

California’s Emissions Could Increase by 6 Million Tons per Year

Before considering how the San Onofre closures will affect the nation’s nuclear industry and generating mix, let’s focus on California. While accounting for only 3% of the state’s 2011 generating capacity from all sources, the SONGS reactors typically contributed around 8% of the state’s annual electricity generation, due to their high utilization rates. That’s a large slice of low-emission power to remove from the energy mix in a state that is committed to reduce its emissions below 1990 levels.

How much emissions will increase following the shutdown depends on the type of generation that replaces these units. If it all came from renewable sources like wind and solar, emissions wouldn’t go up at all, but that’s impractical for several reasons. Start with the inherent intermittency of these renewables, and then compound the challenge by its scale. Even in sunny California, replacing the annual energy contribution of the SONGS units would require around 7,200 MW of solar generating capacity, equivalent to nearly 2 million 4-kilowatt rooftop photovoltaic (PV) arrays. That’s over and above the state’s ambitious “Million Solar Roofs” target, which was already factored into the state’s emission-reduction plans.

(Read More: ‘All of the Above’ Energy Policy Must Be Weighted by Common Sense)

In fact, grid managers from the state’s Independent System Operator recently indicated that in the near term much of the replacement power for SONGS will be generated from natural gas. Even if it matched the mix of 71% gas and 29% renewables added from June 2012 to April 2013, based on “net qualifying capacity”, each megawatt-hour (MWh) of replacement power would emit at least 560 lb. more CO2 than from SONGS. That’s an extra 4 million metric tons of CO2 per year, or 8% of California’s 2010 emissions from its electric power sector and almost 1% of total state emissions. If gas filled the entire gap, or if the natural gas capacity used was not all high-efficiency combined cycle plants, the figure would be closer to 6 million metric tons, equivalent to the annual emissions from about 1.5 million cars.

Early Retirements Offset the Benefits of the Nuclear Renaissance

The SONGS shutdown brings to four the number of nuclear reactors that have been closed permanently this year, reducing the operating US nuclear power plant fleet to 100 units. Several other plants face severe challenges, including the ongoing legal battle over the “certificate of public good” for Vermont Yankee, strong local opposition to the Pilgrim unit on Cape Cod, and a hotly contested license renewal process for the two Indian Point units near New York City. The early retirement of San Onofre can only embolden the opposition to other nuclear plants.

A few years ago, when the nuclear power sector planned a large new-build program in the US, it seemed reasonable to assume that most existing plants would easily obtain 20- or 30-year license extensions, in line with well-established precedent. That would carry the bulk of the fleet into the 2040s and beyond. Meanwhile, new construction would add many gigawatts of new capacity and enable nuclear power to gain market share against coal and gas. However, between a recession that stalled the growth of US electricity demand and the low natural gas prices brought about by the combination of the same recession and the shale gas revolution, the economics of new nuclear power in the US have become tenuous. Some operators have even canceled relatively low-cost “uprate” projects to increase capacity at existing plants.

As part of its Annual Energy Outlook for 2013, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the US Department of Energy looked at various scenarios for nuclear expansion or retrenchment. In addition to the four reactor retirements announced this year, Exelon Corp. has already announced that its Oyster Creek plant in New Jersey will shut down in 2019, after 40 years of operation. If the two Indian Point units were also shut down, then total retirements since 2012 would reduce US nuclear generating capacity of 101,400 MW by more than the 5,580 MW combined capacity of the five new reactors currently under construction and scheduled to start up by late 2018. The difference of around 650 MW would likely be made up by natural gas.

Conclusion: Despite New Construction, US Nuclear Capacity Could Actually Shrink

Between now and 2020, despite the first new nuclear power plants in a decade coming on-line, nuclear’s contribution to our energy mix won’t grow by much, and may actually shrink. That will have consequences for consumers and for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Retiring fully depreciated power plants that still have many years of potential operating life remaining, and replacing them with new generation of any technology, is bound to increase the cost of electricity in the markets where these plants have operated. And even if the net loss of nuclear capacity were directly replaced with high-reliability renewable generation such as hydropower or geothermal, that’s still that much renewable capacity not available to displace higher-emitting generation. Opponents of nuclear power may see that as progress, but it looks like a step backward to me.

  1. By Ivor O'Connor on June 14, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I am very glad to see these nuclear power plants close primarily because they are too complicated to be transparent. They work behind closed doors, producing toxins that can’t be cleaned up, that are invisible to the naked eye, and then when things go bad our politicians step in and deny everything. Now we just need to get rid of the other 90 some odd nuclear power plants.

    As far as CO2 pollution and the poisoning of the ground waters on everything east of California… I’d rather know my enemy and deal with it above board.

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    • By JamesB on June 16, 2013 at 6:10 am

      hi – why is poisoning of ground waters above board? If it is toxic and dispersed it is toxic and dispersed whether nuclear or non nuclear

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  2. By Jeff Steinmetz on June 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Geoffrey Styles is no different than any other shill in favor of Nuclear power. Like all the others he does mention the cost and continued environmental issues associated with Nuclear waste. He does not mention the waste issue is one we will need to take care of for thousands of years. He does not mention the nuclear disaster still burning in Japan. He does not mention the cost over runs associated with the building of past & new Nuclear power plants. He does not mention that while this industry is over 50 years old and should be mature now; all past and new US nuclear power plants still require federal loans for new construction. Wall Street not known recently for being risk adverse still will not touch Nuclear power projects. http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/nuclear_power_and_global_warming/nuclear-power-cost.html

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  3. By CaptD on June 15, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Ratepayers want low cost, SAFE energy and Solar is now ready to provide it.

    There are only three things standing in the way of FIXING our energy problem:

    Our powerful Utilities, who want to keep us in Energy Slavery, so that we will be forced to purchase our energy from them instead of producing it ourselves for FREE (after the initial payback).

    Our appointed regulators, who have a too cozy relationship with the very Utilities they regulate! They have been putting Utility shareholder profits ahead of following their sworn mandate and demanding that our “public” utilities provide energy to US at the lowest cost possible! Example: Why should Utilities be allowed to rip off residential solar panel owners by not reimburse them for the energy they add to the grid at the very same rate that the Utility pays itself when it adds energy to the grid? This would “level” the energy playing field and greatly reduce the payback periods of owning your own panels, which would make installing solar even a better deal!

    Our Political Leaders are beholden to the Powerful Utilities because of large Utility donations and have been until recently hesitant to propose changes to “how the energy game is played” but now with a shrinking economy, the public resistance to ever higher energy costs and record Utility shareholder profits, energy is becoming a HOT political issue that Political Leaders cannot ignore any longer, if they want to stay in office or get elected.

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  4. By CaptD on June 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    ☢ Industry Trying To Retain Market Share, But At What Cost to US
    First posted on the web Jun 14, 2013

    Get ready for ever more Nuclear Baloney* that in essence says the San Onofre was a fluke but all the rest of the industry is just peachy!

    Big Utilities have big PR budgets so they are now trying to sway ratepayers back toward risky nuclear using a number of talking points like:

    √ Nobody has been killed (yet) by nuclear, that we have been told about.

    √ Nuclear is good for the environment, except when it leaks radioactive pollution for decades like Fukushima and the other nuclear accidents.

    √ Required for base load to maintain the grid, which gets along fine when nuclear is shut down like it has in CA for a year and a half.

    Lets cut to the punchline: If Germany can phase out Nuclear, so can the USA, the only thing standing in the way is the Nuclear Industry and their strangle hold on congressional Leaders that make our Energy rules! If people that installed rooftop solar got paid for their energy at the same rate that Utilities got paid for the energy that they generated (A Level Energy Playing Field) then Solar (of all flavors) would be installed everywhere, not just in Big Utility Projects! This would allow everyone to not only use Energy that they generate but sell back to the GRID (which we all pay for) for others to use! Ask yourself why the Utilities should be the only ones profiting from the sale of Energy?

    Regarding Nuclear, the USA cannot afford the Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster RISK of one or more reactors melting down like the four did in Fukushima! Just because it has not happened yet in the USA is no guarantee that it will not occur tomorrow; that and the unknown costs of long term nuclear waste storage make nuclear no longer a good deal at any price, despite what the nuclear industry PR machine says!

    N☢ More Nuclear Business As Usual,

    Ratepayers have been ripped off enough.

    *Nuclear Baloney (NB)

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Nuclear+Baloney

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  5. By CaptD on June 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Half of CA nuclear capacity has been shut down for about a YEAR AND A HALF!

    N☢ problems……………….. ZERO ………………. + Much new Solar added…………..

    Remember, CA has plenty of Energy without any nuclear reactors!

    California has excess power without nuclear, according to data from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the electricity grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (ISO). Here is their chart showing that CA has a 20% (and growing) surplus of Energy without either El Diablo or San Onofre (which has be shuttered because of faulty NEW steam generators for about a year and a half) nuclear generators!

    http://sanonofresafety.org/energy-options/

    + There is a simple reason that California has the highest rates in the USA!

    The California Public Utility Commission (who sets the rates) has allowed the Utilities to rip off rate payers so the Utilities can reward their shareholders.

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  6. By CaptD on June 15, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    If the NRC voids this ruling they are setting themselves up for yet another investigation, which will lead to an enormous firestorm of public outcry; gone are the days of huge industry Nuclear Baloney* (NB) PR campaigns…

    Remember Fukushima!

    America cannot afford a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster!

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Nuclear+Baloney

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  7. By CaptD on June 15, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    RE: California’s Emissions Could Increase by 6 Million Tons per Year

    It also could decrease if the CPUC:

    1. Stopped hoarding all the energy upgrade money it already has collected.

    2. Raised the qualifying amounts for Energy Upgrades

    3. Required the Utilities to start paying owners of solar panels what they pays themselves for energy generated, at the time it is generated.

    4. Increased Energy Rebates, which would create more clean green jobs.

    BTW: In CA the Grid is billed as a separate fee to Energy used…

    Germany is aiming to be 100% renewable by 2050, why not CA?

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  8. By Russ Finley on June 16, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Jeff Steinmetz said:

    “Like all the others he does not mention the cost and continued environmental issues associated with Nuclear waste. He does not mention the waste issue is one we will need to take care of for thousands of years.”

    As one might guess, the waste issue has been grossly exaggerated, as well as exacerbated by anti-nuclear groups, who (and not by accident) are largely responsible for blocking government efforts to create a repository, which the nuclear industry has already paid the government to provide through the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Waste_Policy_Act

    Unlike the fossil fuel energy industry, which is allowed to dump its waste products into the atmosphere, the nuclear energy industry takes full responsibility for its own waste products which are not particularly difficult to deal with relative to many other industrial waste products.

    It always amazes me how little waste nuclear energy produces per unit energy. See the picture below which represents how much vitrified high level waste would be generated to provide a person with all of their electric power for a lifetime.

    Warning: if you do not want to know the truth about nuclear waste, do not, I repeat, do not read the information found at this site:

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-Fuel-Cycle/Nuclear-Wastes/Radioactive-Waste-Management/#.Ub0vJJwsb1k

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    • By Jeff Steinmetz on June 16, 2013 at 11:46 pm

      RF – claims “the nuclear energy industry takes full responsibility”. This is a hoot because the Federal government created a law that states the very opposite. It is called the “Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act” . Without this federal act the cost for needed insurance would drive the cost of Nuclear power out of the power mix. So “full responsibility” for RF means a Federal act that indemnifies the nuclear power business from being required to carry adequate insurance. Yeah….great “full Responsibility” Russ! Works very well for welfare moms and the nuclear power industry.

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      • By Russ Finley on June 17, 2013 at 12:10 am

        Hoot? I think you meant the Nuclear Waste Policy Act. What I said was:

        Unlike the fossil fuel energy industry, which is allowed to dump its waste products into the atmosphere, the nuclear energy industry takes full responsibility for its own waste products which are not particularly difficult to deal with relative to many other industrial waste products.

        A coal plant produces more than 100,000 tons of ash and about 200,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber annually. And that does not include what gets dumped in the air.

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  9. By Russ Finley on June 16, 2013 at 12:38 am

    Ivor O’Connor said:

    “I am very glad to see these nuclear power plants close primarily because they are too complicated to be transparent

    I don’t much care who was the first to say “nuclear energy is one hell of a way to boil water” but Helen Caldicott has parroted it with every opportunity for decades, instilling it in the minds of many who never bothered to question the validity of the statement.

    http://biodiversivist.blogspot.com/2012/01/hellen-caldicott.html

    In reality, there is very little difference when it comes to the complexity of the technology used by nuclear, solar thermal, geothermal, biomass, and coal to create the steam to power the turbine engines that in turn spin electrical generators. Oil and natural gas power plants usually bypass the steam generation part and spin turbines more or less directly with their combustion gases.

    For the most part, they differ only in their source of energy. A good analogy for a nuclear power plant would be a hot rock dropped into teapot of water that has a pinwheel at the spout (being spun by the escaping steam) which is in turn connected to a generator and light bulb. Replace the hot rock with fissioning material (obtained from rocks in nature), extract the heat from the hot water with a heat exchanger (similar to the ones used with solar hot water systems) to make the steam, replace the pinwheel with a gas turbine engine, and there you have it, a nuclear power plant.

    Nuclear energy actually is one hell of a way to boil water, in a good way.

    One of the most complex machines ever built is a modern airliner. Think about that as you and your hundreds of fellow travelers are blasting along at Mach 0.8 inside a pressurized, paper-thin aluminum tube connected to wings filled with a highly flammable liquid, through air too cold and rarified to support human life, before you descend to land at 140 miles an hour on a concrete runway, wholly dependent on the proper deployment of hundreds of complex electromechanical systems (ailerons, slats, flaps, spoilers, elevators, rudder, split rudders, landing gear, thrust reversers, brakes). Not to mention sober and competent pilots and complications like fog, wind shear, hail, tornadoes, torrential rain, and ice. By Caldicott’s reasoning, a jet airliner is one hell of a way to transport people. Admittedly, a hot air balloon is vastly simpler.

    Civilian airplane accidents have killed many tens of thousands of people since the 1950s, a recent study from MIT estimated that their emissions alone may be killing about 8,000 people a year. Compare that to fatalities from nuclear power plants. Wouldn’t your time be better spent trying to eliminate the airline industry?

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/10/101005-planes-pollution-deaths-science-environment/

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    • By Ivor O'Connor on June 16, 2013 at 11:52 am

      “For the most part, they differ only in their source of energy.” To use your analogy we’ve got a hot rock our entire military defense insists must be defended. Everything to do with nuclear power is under lock and key. Perfect for monopolies. Subsidized a thousand times over with hidden costs.

      Despite this we’ve seen 60 years of badly constructed reactors all leaking and going bad. All of which were suppose to be made securely and last virtually forever. We only learn they are not when things go horribly wrong. Even then we are lied to.

      It’s just not the hot rock part. It is how we dispose of everything associated with the hot rock and the hot rock itself. There are no answers so it is stockpiled hoping the hot rock can be covered up quietly in another political era.

      Basically it comes down to do you trust government or not. It’s not just our government. Are you willing to trust a bunch of politicians that throughout the history of mankind have proven they can’t be trusted. Or are you sane?

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      • By Russ Finley on June 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm

        Nothing in your comment is true. You are simply passing on what you have read at anti-nuclear sources without making any attempt to critically asses its validity.

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        • By Ivor O'Connor on June 16, 2013 at 2:44 pm

          Russ Finley wrote:
          “Nothing in your comment is true. You are simply passing on what you have read at anti-nuclear sources without making any attempt to critically asses its validity.”

          lol… No reply is needed to that!

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          • By Russ Finley on June 16, 2013 at 5:57 pm

            lol …at least we agree on that much.

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  10. By Russ Finley on June 16, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Ivor O’Connor said:

    They work behind closed doors, producing toxins that can’t be cleaned up, that are invisible to the naked eye, and then when things go bad our
    politicians step in and deny everything.

    Never mind for the moment that very few toxins in our environment can be seen with the naked eye. When people say toxins, they generally mean carcinogens, agents that increase the odds of developing cancer. The American Cancer Society lists over 400 of them.

    http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/generalinformationaboutcarcinogens/known-and-probable-human-carcinogens

    Again, for the moment, discard the fact that no peer-reviewed and published scientific study has detected higher rates of cancer for employees of nuclear power plants, and people who live in communities near nuclear power plants. That’s not to say, thanks to the wonders of the PDF white paper and the internet, that there are not studies that say otherwise, but keep in mind that many books are also published annually arguing for the existence of aliens among us.

    Workers are well protected from radiation and wear badges that would warn them if something is amiss before the situation became dangerous. About the only way to get cancer from a nuclear power plant is to ingest radioactive particles disgorged as a result of an accident. Let us count on one hand how many accidents of that nature have occurred over the last six decades, and out of those instances, only Chernobyl, the Soviet era poster child for how not to design and run a nuclear power plant (which was an irrefutable and unmitigated disaster) caused fatalities and cancers (dozens from physical damage from direct exposure to radiation and hundreds from cancers).

    It also created Europe’s largest wildlife preserve as a result of the contaminated area being unfit for human habitation. Interestingly enough, we have a similar situation right here in Seattle where a wildlife preserve sits atop an old landfill (although the carcinogens are different than those found in the Chernobyl wildlife preserve).

    Untold millions of human beings get cancer annually from the byproducts of our wood stoves, cars, planes, furnaces, oil, natural gas, and coal fired power plants, not to mention, from a nuclear fusion reaction in the sky, our sun. Human beings that managed to live long enough have been getting cancer from sun burns and their camp fires for untold millennia. Virtually nobody gets cancer from the day to day operation of nuclear power plants, and other than Chernobyl, nobody has gotten cancer from the handful of accidents that managed to release radioactive particles.

    From a recent study co-authored by James Hansen:

    “….global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO -equivalent (GtCO 2 -eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. On the basis of global projection data that take into account the effects of the Fukushima accident, we find that nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420 000 − 7.04 million deaths and 80 − 240 GtCO 2 -eq emissions due to fossil fuels by midcentury, depending on which fuel it replaces.”

    http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es3051197

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  11. By Russ Finley on June 16, 2013 at 1:27 am

    Jeff Steinmetz said:

    He does not mention the cost over runs associated with the building of past & new Nuclear power plants.

    That isn’t a mark against nuclear energy technology, it’s a mark against incompetent decision makers. The number of renewable energy startups that have gone bankrupt and taken all their government money with them are too numerous to count. That does not mean renewable energy is nonviable in every case.

    Jeff Steinmetz said:

    He does not mention that while this industry is over 50 years old and should be mature now

    Nuclear energy is not by any stretch, a mature industry:

    http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/2012/04/30/nuclear-energy-is-not-a-mature-industry/

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    • By Jeff Steinmetz on June 17, 2013 at 1:54 am

      Any Industry that is 50 plus years old should not still require federal backed loans and the “Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act to keep it afloat. Take away the federal loan guaranties and the “Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act and the nuclear power industry goes away. They would not be able to build any new plants and they would not be able to operate all the ones they have now. If Nuclear power is so great; then let it stand without the help of the Federal government.

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    • By Jeff Steinmetz on June 17, 2013 at 2:03 am

      “That isn’t a mark against nuclear energy technology, it’s a mark against incompetent decision makers”‘ and all of them worked or are still working in the Nuclear Power industry. I can see you are still standing by that “full responsibility”.

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  12. By Russ Finley on June 16, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Jeff Steinmetz said:

    Geoffrey Styles is no different than any other shill in favor of Nuclear power.

    Ivor O’Connor said:

    They work behind closed doors…and then when things go bad our politicians step in and deny everything.

    The guy who pops into a comment field calling people with opposing viewpoints (regardless of the strength of their arguments for whatever energy system), a shill for “big whatever” has become a ubiquitous stereotype. It never seems to cross their minds that their behavior fits the definition of a shill, in this case, for nuclear energy’s main competitor, coal. Rod Adams, a pro-nuclear energy blogger, half-seriously suspects that these guys are being paid by the fossil fuel industry.

    In Steven Pinker’s book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, he recounts an experiment which demonstrated that the human propensity to see our adversaries as evil, and for our adversaries to see their adversaries (us) as evil, regardless, may be an innate feature of human nature and probably explains our almost unimaginably violent history of blood feuds, warfare, and genocide:

    “…people who commit destructive acts, from everyday *peccadilloes to serial murders and genocides, ever think they are doing anything wrong.”

    *Peccadillo: A small sin or fault.

    There is no evidence that the industry that uses nuclear fission to generate electricity is any more or less honest/dishonest than the corn ethanol, biofuel, solar, wind, oil, coal, natural gas, geothermal, hydro-electric or any other industry. Because they all readily promote their products, lobby government, and because they are all equally liable under the law for breaking it, you can’t rationally use the evil argument against one, without using it against all, which makes the evil argument a moot point.

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/moot_point

    Comment fields are also a reflection of human nature, rife with peccadilloes; little white lies, half truths, deceptions, perpetuation of false and/or misleading information where largely anonymous participants are comfortable stretching or disregarding the truth because, after all, the end justifies the means when good meets evil*. *Sarcasm alert.

    http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/The+end+justifies+the+means

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  13. By Russ Finley on June 16, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Jeff Steinmetz said:

    …all past and new US nuclear power plants still require federal loans for new construction.

    That’s not true. A loan guarantee is not the same as a loan. The government loses money only if the company goes bankrupt.

    The DOE loan guarantee program is also applicable to renewables. The number of renewable energy start-ups that have gone bankrupt and taken all their government money with them are too numerous to count. As with nuclear, the entire solar industry is not invalidated just because some players get clocked by market forces.

    Solyndra had a $535 million DOE loan guarantee before going bankrupt thanks to lower silicon prices.

    The government already has other loan guarantee programs that don’t involve nuclear to the tune of $1.1 trillion.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solyndra

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  14. By Russ Finley on June 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    Jeff Steinmetz said:

    Wall Street not known recently for being risk adverse still will not touch Nuclear power projects.

    There are five nuclear reactors under construction (Watts Bar 2, Summer 2, Summer 3, Vogtle 3, Vogtle 4). Although the government seems to have its finger in all pies, these projects are primarily privately financed.

    There is no denying that the huge up-front costs for a custom designed and built conventional nuclear power plant entails financial risk (may not always be the cheapest source over its lifespan), especially thanks to cheaper fossil fuels like natural gas but the market always entails risk. If the price of natural gas eventually gets very high, up and running nuclear power will prove to be a wise move, as it has been to date. Certainly the less than half of one percent of our power provided by intermittent solar can’t defeat fossil fuels alone.

    Nuclear may cost more up front than competing fossil fuels, but so do renewables:

    http://thebreakthrough.org/ind

    There are many new designs in the pipeline to reduce the cost of nuclear. One of my favorites are the small modular reactors that may one day replace the coal fired boiler at existing coal fueled power stations.
    .

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  15. By ben on June 16, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    This piece by G. Styles is right on the money. In fact, his contributions to ETI have, to date, introduced a level of insight and objectivity that really merits a tip of the hat. Keep up the rigorous analysis and pay little attention to the naysayers who see a conspiracy behind most everything at odds with their own predisposition (often delusion).

    I dare say Russ Finley seemed to have a bee in the bonnet from the comments of Steinmetz. Instincts tell me this JS is set against nuclear and he’s not about to let a few facts get in the way of an opinion. Generally, I find most of the arguments against further development of nuclear power to be much more emotional than of technical merit.

    The reality seems to be one where those who relentlessly beat the drum of climate change–and that may be a good thing given the head-in-the-sand we get from the Neanderthals out here–find no realistic strategies to a sustainable future (that include adequate economic growth to help alleviate poverty and human misery) that must necessarily include the application of technologies posing some degree of risk.
    The real issue here is one of making difficult choices in a world demanding “progress” on all fronts without significant disruption to our standard of living. Some argue that any disruption to an ascending wealth of nations is not only unwarranted, but actually counterproductive to achieving the very societal dynamics that ultimately contribute to greater human freedom and respect for the foundational institutions safeguarding freedom under the rule of law. Well, that’s the view from a small village outside Accra.

    Hoping all of ETI’s contributors and readers enjoyed their Father’s Day. Let’s face it, some things in life are a lot more important/valuable than others.

    Ben

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    • By Jeff Steinmetz on June 17, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Ben- those are some broad brush strokes you are painting across my post. In my post I had one mention of Japan and health issues. That was the only thing you could claim was “emotional”. Most of the post focused on known operational and fiscal issues the nuclear industry does not like people to bring up. A tip of the hat to you on how you tried to avoid the issues raised in my post.

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  16. By Russ Finley on June 16, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Jeff Steinmetz said:

    Read what the Union of Concerned Scientist -also concerned about climate change, have to say about the cost of Nuclear power.

    Many of the founders of UCS back in 1968 were nuclear physicists and pro nuclear power. Officially, the UCS is to this day, pro-nuclear power. They claim to simply work to improve its safety because:

    “Nothing would undermine public acceptance of a new generation of nuclear power plants as much as a serious accident…”

    Nothing wrong with that. Here’s a direct quote to me from their press secretary:

    “A lot of people think we’re anti-nuclear power. We’re not.”

    http://biodiversivist.blogspot.com/2010/03/ucs-union-of-concerned-scientists-is.html

    The problem is, they aren’t really a union where everyone has the same opinion, and in theory, you only need two scientists on staff to keep the name legitimate. There appears to be an ongoing power struggle inside the organization between anti-nuclear types and pro-nuclear types.

    One day the organization may splinter and somebody will get to keep the name. The other group might have to join Greenpeace.

    http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/michael-shellenberger-and-ted-nordhaus/no-solar-way-around-it

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  17. By kevinzeese on August 11, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    The nuclear industry saw a renaissance when President Obama
    was elected. He had been a long-term
    supporter of nuclear energy and Exelon
    energy had been a major contributor througout his political career. Obama appointed two Energy Secretaries who
    supported nuclear energy in Steven Chu and Ernest Moniz. He offered the industry loan guarantees and
    tried to find somewhere to store their radioactive waste. Even some environmental groups had been
    fooled into supporting nuclear as a way to solve the climate problem. Despite all of this the industry’s renaissance
    has been turned into a retreat.
    Recently, there have been some
    major victories for activists working to stop nuclear energy. Duke Energy cancelled its two proposed new reactors in
    Levy County, Florida. And, Electricite de France announced that it is pulling
    out of the U.S. nuclear market entirely. EDF wanted to build new reactors at
    Calvert Cliffs, Maryland and Nine Mile Point, New York. This follows victories earlier this summer in California and Kentucky. Thank goodness — it looks like nuclear is on the way out. Time to commit to a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy.

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