Some utilities get it (believe it or not)

Graph from survey of utility execs by Utility Dive.

Graph from survey of utility execs by Utility Dive.

Every year (well, this is the second year), the trade website Utility Dive conducts a survey of about 400 electric utility execs across the country to find out what they think about the future of their business.

The good news about the survey this year is that many of them seem to get a very key point: distributed generation is the future. 31% of them, more than for any other category, see distributed generation as a real opportunity. The bad news, or a portion of the bad news anyway, is that 56% of the execs don’t have the slightest clue as to how to build their business around distributed generation. Continue reading

The solar wars come to Indiana

No, this isn’t Indiana. Yet. Some state legislators want to make sure this type of thing never comes to their state. It’s hard holding back the future.

Indiana is, perhaps aside from Utah and Oklahoma, about as red as red states come. It’s never been exactly a leader in forward-looking energy policy, although it did manage to avoid the deregulation fervor of the late 1990s-early 2000s, probably to its citizens’ benefit. But it’s also where I was born and some family still live, so I can’t give up on it entirely.

And, actually, there is a surprisingly long tradition of progressivism in Indiana as well. The northwest part of the state is (or at least was) steel country and union turf after all. It’s a non-nuclear state, though it wasn’t supposed to be. Two nuclear projects, Bailly in the north and Marble Hill in the south, were started in the 1970s. Both collapsed after construction had begun (in Marble Hill’s case, a lot of construction), in part due to the ferocity of opposition from the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana. Continue reading

FirstEnergy wants a big bailout too

FirstEnergy's decrepit Davis-Besse reactor has been one of the least reliable reactors in the nation, with a long history of serious safety problems.

FirstEnergy’s decrepit Davis-Besse reactor has been one of the least reliable reactors in the nation, with a long history of serious safety problems.

The two largest nuclear power utilities, Exelon and Entergy, aren’t the only ones looking for ratepayer bailouts for uneconomic power plants. Add Ohio’s FirstEnergy to the list, which is seeking subsidies that the Ohio Consumers Counsel puts at $3 Billion to keep its Davis-Besse reactor and some old, decrepit coal plants operating.

The portion for Davis-Besse alone is at least $171 million/year and NIRS estimates that the actual price tag may be $225 million/year above the market rate for electricity. Continue reading

Exelon’s proposed takeover of Pepco: what’s at stake


Exelon’s attempt to take over the mid-Atlantic utility Pepco is running into obstacles in DC, Maryland and Delaware. The merger may be critical to Exelon’s long-term survival.

Exelon is the nation’s largest nuclear power utility, but burdened by a bevy of uneconomic nuclear reactors, it hasn’t been performing well financially in recent years and was forced to slash dividends to its shareholders a couple years ago–which it still hasn’t been able to resume. Wall Street took notice, and essentially told Exelon it had to diversify and expand its non-generation business.  Continue reading

Yes, America wants solar and wind, not nukes


Investing in solar power now brings a better return than investing in the S&P 500. Graphic from NC Clean Energy Technology Center.

Just in case there was any doubt, “Americans ‘overwhelmingly’ prefer solar and wind energy to coal, oil, and nuclear energy, according to a Harvard political scientist who has conducted a comprehensive survey of attitudes toward energy and climate for the last 12 years.” So begins a New Year’s Day column in Forbes by Jeff McMahon that a lot of people missed–for most people, New Year’s Day is not prime time for reading about energy issues.

It’s not even close. 80% of the American people want solar and wind to increase a lot, and another 10% want it to increase somewhat (The other 10% probably earn their living either directly or indirectly from the nuclear and fossil fuel industries, or perhaps live in caves and don’t want electricity, or maybe just lie to pollsters). Continue reading

It’s put up or shut up time for Exelon

Exelon's Dresden nuclear complex (Unit 1, on the right, has been closed since 1978) may--or may not--be one of Exelon's supposed uneconomic nuclear plants.

Exelon’s Dresden nuclear complex (Unit 1, on the right, has been closed since 1978) may–or may not–be one of Exelon’s supposed uneconomic nuclear plants.

For a year now, Exelon has been complaining–loudly–that some of its Illinois reactors are uneconomic (though it hasn’t necessarily been consistent about which ones those are). And the nuclear giant has threatened to close some of these reactors if it can’t get some form of bailout (a word Exelon despises, but is nonetheless accurate). Of course, there are many who would feel much better if those threats were actually promises…. Continue reading

Russian reactors are unsafe, unreliable–but Russian nuclear industry is aggressively trying to export them

After a rocky construction experience, India's Kudankulam reactors, manufactured by Russia's Rosatom, are said to be near commercial generation.

After a rocky construction experience, India’s Kudankulam reactors, manufactured by Russia’s Rosatom, are said to be near commercial generation.

This post originally appeared on, a site run by a group of dedicated people working against nuclear power in India particularly and South Asia generally. It also ran on the Mining Awareness blog, from which we repost it with a few edits.

Vladimir Sliviak is an ex-officio board member of NIRS and the longtime leader of Ecodefense in Russia. His reports on the Russian government’s crackdown on civil society, including on Ecodefense, appeared several times on GreenWorld last year (just search for “Ecodefense” and you’ll find them). interviewed the eminent environmentalist Vladimir Slivyak, whose group EcoDefense has been facing repression in Russia for exposing the lack of nuclear safety and environmental impacts. His report on the status of nuclear industry in Russia, prepared at the request of the African environmental group Earthlife, was published recently. Africa is also an important market that the Russian nuclear giant Atomsroyexport is eying. Continue reading