Fukukshima aftermath, August 2014

Three and a half years later, the Fukushima accident shows no signs of ending.

Three and a half years later, the Fukushima accident shows no signs of ending.

Three and a half years after the onset of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, its ramifications continue to reverberate across the world, but as one would expect, especially in Japan.

A quick roundup of some recent Fukushima-related news:

Two Japanese economists released their study this week showing that financial costs of the accident are now at 11 trillion Yen, or about $106 billion. That’s about twice previous government estimates. Continue reading

UBS: It’s time to join the (solar) revolution

UBS: the falling costs of solar power and battery storage combined with increasing use of electric vehicles means the end of large power plants--faster than you might think.

UBS: the falling costs of solar power and battery storage combined with increasing use of electric vehicles means the end of large power plants–faster than you might think.

Already this year we’ve reported on several major investment banks and analysts that argue the future is solar power. First there was Goldman Sachs (Goldman Sachs sees a solar future for the U.S.–and that has nuclear utilities running scared), then Barclay’s (Nuclear industry wins short-term victories, but losing long-term battle), then Bloomberg (Bloomberg sees a renewable-powered future), then Citigroup (Citigroup: The revolution will not be televised).

Now the giant multinational investment firm UBS has joined the march toward a clean energy future.

In a letter to its clients, UBS says flat out: “It’s time to join the revolution.”

Right now, the payback period for installation of rooftop solar plus battery storage is about 12 years. That means that after 12 years, the homeowner’s electricity is essentially free. Continue reading

NRC approves radwaste rule; ends reactor licensing moratorium. Magwood phones it in.

PrintThe Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners today approved its controversial replacement for its “waste confidence” rule that was slapped down in 2012 by a federal court and also approved a resumption of new reactor licensing and license renewal activities.

The new replacement rule essentially gives up on the notion of “confidence” that a permanent high-level radioactive waste repository will be built in any foreseeable time frame and instead expresses the agency’s support for the concept that “continued storage” in the absence of a permanent repository–even for millenia–is just A-OK with them. Continue reading

Former top NRC inspector says shut Diablo Canyon

The Diablo Canyon reactors near San Luis Obispo, California

The Diablo Canyon reactors near San Luis Obispo, California

The big news today is that the former top Nuclear Regulatory Commission on-site inspector at the Diablo Canyon reactors, Michael Peck, has recommended to the NRC that those reactors be shut down until their ability to withstand earthquakes is fully assessed.

The weekend’s earthquake in the northern Bay Area of California just adds impetus to Peck’s position.

The irony is that this should have been the big news a year ago: Peck wrote his recommendation–in the form of a formal Differing Professional Opinion–in July 2013. And the NRC still hasn’t taken action, or even responded to it. Continue reading

Is NRC rushing critical vote for Magwood?

NRC Commissioner William Magwood 's term is ending in controversy--of course.

NRC Commissioner William Magwood ‘s term is ending in controversy–of course.

Why is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission seemingly rushing its critical vote on its new radioactive waste policy? This isn’t just routine Commission business. It’s a key vote that will clear the way for resumption of licensing activities for both new reactors and license renewals.

The issue arises because controversial NRC Commissioner William Magwood’s last day on the NRC is August 31. Yet the Commission has tentatively scheduled this vote for August 26–even though it wasn’t expected until October. 34 environmental and clean energy organizations have repeatedly pressed the case that Magwood, who is leaving for a job as chief of Europe’s Nuclear Energy Agency–a body that promotes rather than regulates nuclear power–faces a serious conflict of interest.

The NRC is a regulatory body; it is prohibited from promoting nuclear power. Magwood is thumbing his nose not only at his critics, but at the entire concept of separating regulation and promotion. For background on the Magwood controversy, see GreenWorld here and here.

The real question is: why is the rest of the NRC apparently letting him get away with it? Continue reading

We’re going all out for the climate march

Atlanta-20140729-00643NIRS–and some 800 other organizations–are going all out this weekend to build support for the September 21, 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City. It’s a coordinated effort, so don’t be surprised if you see multiple March appeals in your inbox, on your Facebook page, in your Twitter feed, and maybe even flyers at your local coffee shop.

This holds promise of being a historic, transformative occasion: one of those rare events that can literally upend the political landscape, much like the 1963 March on Washington did for civil rights; the November 1969 March on Washington did against the Vietnam War; and the 1982 New York City march for a nuclear freeze that a few years later led to the first serious nuclear arms reductions ever.

But it will only be that kind of game-changing, rule-changing event if we all participate; if we all make a commitment to be there if at all possible, and to support the event if we can’t.

From NIRS’ perspective, we fully expect this to be the largest Climate March in history. We also believe it can be the largest anti-nuclear power outpouring in decades–but that depends on you.

Below is a letter we sent to our members today. If you’re not a NIRS member, or maybe just missed it in your inbox, we hope you’ll take a moment to read it now–and think about how you can help organize and mobilize for this event. And then do it.

The People’s Climate March is one month away, but you can start it now!

Join the growing Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent!

And help spread the word in the all-out mobilizing campaign August 21-23.

August 21, 2014

Dear Friends,

The historic People’s Climate March is just one month away–September 21, 2014. And NIRS and all the other groups supporting this massive event have launched an all-out mobilizing campaign starting now.

This weekend, we ask every organization–and every individual–supporting the Nuclear Free-Carbon-Free Contingent to help get the word out about this event. Send an e-mail–or just forward this one–to everyone on your lists. Put up a notice on your websites and blogs; post on Facebook/Twitter or any other social media sites you use. Send a letter to the editor of your local paper about why you’re going to the march, or just to raise awareness of it (we’ve made this easy for you, see details below).

whywemarchthumbThe March Starts Now

We’re not waiting until September 21–we’re kicking off the march now! We’re creating a photo gallery of marchers to visually tell everyone why we’re marching. And if you absolutely can’t come to New York City on September 21, this is a perfect way for you to stand and be counted.

It’s easy. Just download and print one of the signs we have posted on our new The March Starts Now page (or make a sign of your own), and then take a selfie of you holding the sign, or get a partner or friend to take the photo and then take one of him/her too. Group shots encouraged too. Then send the photos to nirsnet@nirs.org and we’ll post them in the photo gallery. Get started here.

Sign Up for the March

statueoflibertywsolarpanelIf you’re coming to the march, but haven’t yet signed up on the People’s Climate March website, please do so now using this special url, which indicates your sign-up is coming through the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent: http://peoplesclimate.org/march?r=nukefree. The reason to sign up is so march organizers can have a better sense of how many people to expect–this is important for logistical and planning purposes.

We encourage you to sign up for the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent as well, for the same reasons. Plus, it will help us keep those of you we know are coming better informed about the Contingent’s plans, especially any last-minute changes. You can sign up for the Contingent here.

National Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Activist Meeting

Besides the march on Sunday, September 21, NIRS is sponsoring a national meeting of activists all afternoon on Saturday, September 20. We’re still working on exact time and location, but it will be in an accessible location in New York City. The purpose of the meeting will be to strengthen grassroots networks to be able to better organize and prepare for the many upcoming regional and state battles we all will be facing when the EPA’s Clean Power Plan rule goes into effect next year. These battles will be critical for the future of nuclear power–we can close dirty, dangerous and uneconomic nuclear reactors and end talk of a nuclear “renaissance” for good, or face potentially decades of stagnation of renewable energy and energy efficiency in favor of dirty energy. The stakes are that high–but these are battles we can win. Please join us at this important meeting. We will keep you informed about time and location.

Some March updates

pcm-route-mapThe march route has been set, you can see the route map on to the right. The march will kick off at 11:30 am on September 21; contingents will be assembling north of Columbus Circle. We will inform you of the assembly point and time for the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent as soon as it is confirmed.

There are numerous useful resources on the Contingent website, including flyers for downloading; organizing and mobilizing guides; information on transportation to NYC; background reading and much more.

The site is updated daily and will be through September 21.

125 organizations from across the world have now endorsed the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent, and new endorsements arrive daily. If your organization has not yet endorsed the Contingent, please send your name, organization name, city, state and country (if outside the U.S.) to us at nirsnet@nirs.org.

More than 1400 individuals have also signed a statement in support of the Contingent. You can add your name here.

Letters to the Editor

We have provided a sample letter for you to send to your local news outlets. You’ll be able to choose which paper(s) it will be sent to. Then, edit the letter to reflect your own views and concerns (especially local ones), and your letter will automatically be sent to your local media. Research continues to show that letters to the editor remain among the highest-read portions of newspapers (including online ones). It’s a great way to spread the word and we’ve made it as easy as possible for you. Get started here, it will only take you a few moments.

Facebook/Twitter and other social media posts

Here are a few sample posts you can use on your social media pages to help spread the word:

Twitter

In one month, September 21, the largest climate march in history. Join us. http://peoplesclimate.org/march?r=nukefree #peoplesclimate

#ActonClimate: Build a Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free energy system. We start September 21. http://peoplesclimate.org/march?r=nukefree #peoplesclimate

Facebook

Join me at the largest climate march in history. I’ll be with the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent in NYC on September 21. Full information here: http://www.nirs.org/climatemarch/climatemarchhome.htm

Friends, help spread the word about the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent to the People’s Climate March in NYC on September 21. http://www.nirs.org/climatemarch/climatemarchhome.htm

Don’t forget to Comment to EPA!

Finally, if you have not yet sent in your comments on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, please so do now here. Many people have not yet done so, and in this case, every single comment matters. The nuclear industry is mounting a major lobbying effort to increase support for nuclear power in the plan–our united and large call to remove all nuclear support for the plan is the only thing that will stop them.

The Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent to the People’s Climate March is one of the most exciting and meaningful events I’ve been part of in my nearly 30 years at NIRS. It’s just amazing to see the enthusiasm and spirit growing the way it is. This will a momentous weekend. I really do hope you’ll join me, all the NIRS staff, and people from all over the country in New York City on September 21.

Thanks so much for all you do,

Michael Mariotte
President
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
http://www.nirs.org
nirsnet@nirs.org

pcmgraphic

Michael Mariotte

August 21, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/08/21/were-going-all-out-for-the-climate-march/

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NRG spars with Exelon over uneconomic reactors, carbon rule

There are two GE Mark I reactors at Exelon's uneconomic Quad Cities site.

There are two GE Mark I reactors in one building at Exelon’s uneconomic Quad Cities site.

Hearings begin today before the Illinois Commerce Commission on what will become a pivotal battle over the future of nuclear power–not only in Illinois, but across the nation.

That’s because the hearings will ultimately lead to legislation that likely will determine the fate of Exelon’s admittedly uneconomic and aging nuclear reactors in the state. And how Illinois comes down on the issue may well become a precedent for other states.

The hearings are on Illinois’ plan to reduce carbon emissions, a process every state will have to go through once the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is put into effect, probably next year. But Illinois is starting early because some of Exelon’s reactors are in dire straits and the utility wants a bailout now.

Exelon is leaving nothing to chance; as the Chicago Tribune put it Friday, “Exelon is busy pulling political strings to ensure it is rewarded financially for its nuclear power plants….”

For example, the Tribune reports that “…Exelon has taken strides to beef up its political might after repairing a long-standing tiff with House Speaker Michael Madigan.” In return, Madigan got a resolution through the state legislature last session that will result in a pile of reports. Reports designed to help Exelon. Reports “that lay out the financial, environmental and economic benefits of Exelon’s nuclear fleet in Illinois.” The Tribune noted that while more than half of Illinois’ power comes from non-nuclear sources, “none of those companies has received that kind of treatment from Madigan. A spokesman for Madigan did not respond.”

Exelon’s goal in Illinois is to replace the state’s currently non-functional Renewable Portfolio Standard with a new Clean Energy carbon-based standard that would reward Exelon’s reactors, while putting the kibosh on renewable energy investment in the state for decades to come.

And that has brought NRG Energy into the fray.

Lee Davis, executive vice president and regional president for NRG Energy’s east region, criticized the idea that existing nuclear plants should be propped up.

“We want to reduce carbon emissions, not maintain the status quo,” he said of the EPA’s goal of 30 percent greenhouse gas reductions from 2005 levels by 2030.

The goal of the carbon rule, Davis said, is to reduce carbon emissions, not to reward Exelon for something it’s been doing….

“What Exelon is asking for is state funds to support nuclear units that are now uneconomic. If they’re uneconomic today, they’re going to be uneconomic in the future,” Davis said. “We’re responding to market signals, we’re cutting our carbon emissions. We think something forward-thinking needs to be done. Introduce renewables to help you achieve your goal.”

Davis said he’d like to see the state come up with an approach to meeting carbon-reduction goals that rewards flexibility.

“What Exelon is suggesting here is, put all your eggs in the nuclear basket and just trust Exelon,” he said.

Exelon is also going after the EPA’s carbon rule, which currently encourages additional support for 6% of a state’s nuclear generation–meaning some sort of ratepayer or taxpayer subsidy for nuclear power. Exelon doesn’t think that’s enough and is urging EPA to make that number much larger–in fact, it wants EPA to add support for all nuclear power, whether or not it is currently uneconomic.

Said Exelon exec William Von Hoene, “We want this to be a marketplace solution, not a subsidy solution. We have federal subsidies for two kinds of generation: wind and solar. That’s not a market. We’re picking two specific technologies. Let’s decide: What’s the goal? Reliable? Clean? Create a marketplace that supports those goals and let the marketplace decide.”

It’s really the classic “big lie” technique. Repeat something often enough–and Exelon does–maybe people will start to believe it. In this case, that’s the notion that only wind and solar receive any federal subsidies. In fact, all generation sources have received federal subsidies, and still do. And nuclear’s subsidies have far outweighed those of any other single generating source. Loan guarantees, the Price-Anderson Act, a woefully-underfunded Nuclear Waste Fund–which is now prevented from collecting any more money. Nuclear even has essentially the same Production Tax Credit for new reactors that Von Hoene is referring to as existing only for wind and solar.

Just trust Exelon? NRG clearly doesn’t. Neither should anyone else.

Michael Mariotte

August 18, 2014

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2014/08/18/nrg-spars-with-exelon/

You can now support GreenWorld with your tax-deductible contribution on our new donation page here. We gratefully appreciate every donation of any size–your support is what makes our work possible.

Comments are welcome on all GreenWorld posts! Say your piece above. Start a discussion. Don’t be shy; this blog is for you.

If you’d like to receive GreenWorld via e-mail, send your name and e-mail address to nirsnet@nirs.org and we’ll send you an invitation. Note that the invitation will come from a GreenWorld@wordpress.com address and not a nirs.org address, so watch for it.

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