Nuclear Newsreel, Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Missed this last week, sorry I did. Excellent op-ed from veteran energy journalist Ken Maize: Let the Vogtle DOE Loan Vanish. Completely dismantles, from a free-market perspective, any argument that the proposed $8.3 Billion taxpayer loan for construction of the two Vogtle reactors in Georgia makes any sense at all. Also correctly notes that this would be a taxpayer loan, not just a loan guarantee. The only thing he gets wrong is that he says the project is on schedule. Actually, it’s about a year behind at this point.

The beginning of the piece is dead-on:

“Sorry, I confess I just don’t get it. Why is the Department of Energy still negotiating with the Southern Company for a below-market loan to finish construction of two more units at Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear plant?

“The utility says it will go it alone if the Obama administration doesn’t come through with a loan of $8.3 billion (for what is now a $15.5 billion project). Indeed, construction is going forward on the project, and it appears to be on schedule. So why should Uncle Sam subsidize the project?

“Let ’em go. If the Southern Co, doesn’t need the money, that’s great. Go for it, Southern.

The only answer I’ve seen so far is that without the federal largess, local customers will pay more for electricity. So Southern Co., Municipal Energy Agency of Georgia, Oglethorpe Power Corp., and the city of Dalton want federal taxpayers to subsidize Georgia electric customers. Huh? Again, I don’t get it.”

Read the whole thing. Then send it to your Congressmember.
Politico points out that President Obama wants it both ways: in his State of the Union speech last night Obama called both for action on climate change (and correctly and directly challenged climate change deniers) and an “all of the above” strategy on energy, which includes natural gas and oil development–which of course adds to climate change. Well, at least he didn’t include nuclear power in his talk, and it’s pretty clear that except for some money for Small Modular Reactor development, promoting nuclear power has been put on the back burner at the White House for the past couple of years. As we reported yesterday, the CEO of Areva is very sad that the Obama administration has not been including nuclear in its recent energy policy pronouncements. One key indicator of the White House’s position on nuclear will be its decision on the Vogtle loan. The deadline for completion of the loan has been extended several times and is currently this Friday, January 31. The key question is whether DOE will be able to overcome the White House’s Office of Management and Budget’s objections to the terms of the loan, which it apparently believes is just too risky.

Even if you’ve done it before, tell Energy Secretary Moniz and President Obama once again to stop the $8.3 billion taxpayer loan for Vogtle reactor construction. You can make your voice heard here.

In Filling in the Gaps on Fukushima Radiation and Its Effects on Fish, well-known Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki writes in support of a new project from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to crowdsource funding to measure the effects of Fukushima radiation on the Pacific Ocean and marine life. That’s become necessary since no government has been willing to do the necessary monitoring. We support that project too.

Dominion Power gets nuclear gift from Virginia Senate committee. Full Senate should stop this nonsense now.

French nuclear regulator wants power to impose fines over safety issues. Sheesh! After 50 years, they’re just now figuring out utilities should be fined for safety violations?

Japan’s Prime Minister Abe visited India over the weekend, he’s been pushing for an India-Japan nuclear agreement as part of his effort to revive Japan’s nuclear power export business in the wake of Fukushima. But Indians were not all enamored of that concept; everywhere he went he was met by anti-nuclear protestors.

The world’s largest wind turbine began operation in Denmark on Tuesday. It’s designed primarily to be used in large offshore wind farms. But for us the really startling, and dismaying, sentence in this article is this: …it “can generate 8 megawatts of power — enough to supply electricity for 7,500 average European households or about 3,000 American households.” This is a not-so-subtle reminder that the U.S. has a long way to go on energy efficiency–the cheapest, cleanest and fastest means of reducing carbon emissions. The U.S. remains less than 1/2 as energy efficient as the European Union, which itself is 1/2 as efficient as Japan (although the EU has been catching up in recent years).

A very good piece explaining the difference between “intermittent” power and “variable” power (discussed yesterday in Nuclear Newsreel). It is correct (and important, especially when managing the electrical grid) to classify nuclear and fossil fuel as “intermittent” power, solar and wind represent “variable” power. Both are more relevant terms in the 21st century than the obsolete (but still frequently used, especially by the nuclear industry) term of “baseload” power.

Michael Mariotte


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