This post first appeared on Power for the People, a blog focused on energy issues in Virginia, the home base of Dominion Resources–a company that is an industry laggard when it comes to renewable energy issues, and is still pursuing the possibility of building a third nuclear reactor at its North Anna site despite its costs projection of around $19 Billion, which would make it the most expensive nuclear project ever undertaken in the U.S. Those projections are not far off the costs anticipated for the UK’s highly controversial Hinkley Point reactor and, given the near-certainty of cost overruns and schedule delays, could go far higher if construction is attempted. Continuing reading
It’s a truism perhaps most prevalent in the music scene: today’s alternative is tomorrow’s mainstream.
I remember when a new Irish band called U2 first came to the United States. Their first show was at a Washington club called The Bayou, where my band frequently played. U2 was opening for some good friends of mine, the locally-hot Slickee Boys. Afterwards, the Irish kids went off on their American tour in support of their just-released first album, Boy. I Will Follow from the album became a monster hit on alternative radio (mainstream rock radio at the time wouldn’t touch it). But the buzz in the indy media was strong enough so that when U2 came back to the Bayou for their final U.S. show of the tour, The Slickee Boys opened for them. And a local rock radio station carried the concert live. U2 never looked back, becoming for years one of the (some might argue “the”) biggest rock bands in the world.
There are surely similar stories out there about Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and most every other initially indie music act that hit it big. And there are probably stories about other arenas–film, literature, whatever.
The concept seems to work for energy too. Continue reading
November 13, 2015
Thanks for the e-mail yesterday from your PR firm, notifying me of the press conference you’re planning on December 3 in Paris, in conjunction with the COP 21 climate negotiations.
Though I have to admit I was a little surprised to receive it, seeing as how you never responded to my last letter to you. Remember? It was the one where I asked to debate you about nuclear power and whether it could be a solution to the climate crisis you have so ably articulated over the years? I even offered a very nice potential debate location here in Washington, where we could make sure there would be an audience and some media to chronicle the event. Continue reading
In mid-September, I wrote a piece delving into prognostication–always a dangerous endeavor–identifying (with tongue slightly in cheek) the nation’s most troubled nuclear reactors and dividing them into two piles: pawn or toast. Toast was those reactors most likely to shut down; pawn indicated that while on the precipice, the utilities would go to great lengths to avoid shutting them down.
Only six weeks or so later, enough has happened to revisit that list and see how we’ve done. Continue reading
Imagine it’s October 2017. A young conservative, let’s say Marco Rubio (because the idea of the other young conservative in the race, Ted Cruz, is just too odious), has been elected President. He and his new energy secretary and new treasurer decide what the U.S. needs more than anything is some shiny new nuclear power reactors. Big ones.
But no one in the U.S. wants to build them. They’re just too expensive. The ones we have under construction at Vogtle and Summer are over-budget and behind schedule, same with the ones being built in Europe. And renewables are coming on strong, even stronger and cheaper than they were back in 2015, especially since Congress extended the production tax credits for wind and solar before Obama left office. Continue reading
A generation or so ago, New England was one of the most nuclear-dependent regions in the nation. If one defines New England as including New York, then that relatively small corner of the U.S. map was home to 15 commercial nuclear reactors 25 years ago–only the state of Illinois had a more concentrated nuclear presence; regionally, no other area is even close to that concentration on a square-mile basis.
Today, New England is leading the nation away from nuclear power, and toward the energy efficient, renewables-powered system of the 21st century. Today’s news from Entergy that it will close its Pilgrim reactor by mid-2019–and probably a whole lot sooner–is just the latest manifestation of that process, and it’s a process that is accelerating. Continue reading
It’s no great revelation to say that the mainstream media, fractured though it may be these days, holds great power. It’s not direct power; the media can’t make actual decisions. Rather, the media grabs a theme–a meme if you want–and holds on to it, and repeats it, and provides slight twists to it so it can be repeated again, until it becomes accepted wisdom. While the media, especially the mainstream media, is often behind the curve, behind reality, once it catches up and snares and spreads that meme, it doesn’t take long for it to establish itself. And once a concept becomes accepted wisdom, then the actual decisions tend to follow in unison. As a group, politicians rarely stray far from accepted wisdom. Continue reading