Tag Archives: FitzPatrick

New York Just Proved Why Bailing Out Nuclear Power Is a Bad Idea

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New York approved a $7.6-$10 billion subsidy to prop up uncompetitive nuclear power plants–twice as much money as it will take for the state to achieve a goal to generate 50% of its electricity with renewables by 2030.

Yesterday, New York became the first state to adopt a policy to subsidize aging, uncompetitive nuclear reactors. The state’s Public Service Commission, which regulates utility companies, passed a Clean Energy Standard that combines a 50% renewable energy standard by 2030 with massive subsidies to prop up uneconomical reactors. (You can download the whole PSC order here.)

Prepare yourself for loud celebrations from the nuclear industry, heaping praise on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and calling for other states to emulate the Empire State with lucrative incentives to insulate the nuclear industry from competition and to postpone closures of uneconomical reactors.

We hate to throw water on the parade, but the move actually proves what a bad idea it is to provide subsidies like this to prop up nuclear power. Let’s jump to the punch line, then we can fill in the blanks: New York just committed to spending twice as much money propping up old nuclear reactors than on new renewable energy, to get 2-3 times less energy from nuclear as renewables in the end.

Spend more, get less electricity, get more carbon emissions–and get a lot of radioactive waste. Continue reading

New York’s Nuclear Fork in the Road: Subsidizing Old Reactors Is a Dead End

New York is striving to implement one of the most aggressive renewable energy strategies in the nation. Yet at the same time, Gov. Cuomo wants to bail out the upstate and uneconomic FitzPatrick and Ginna reactors--which would only slow the deployment of renewables and would cost NY ratepayers billions.

New York is striving to implement one of the most aggressive renewable energy strategies in the nation. Yet at the same time, Gov. Cuomo wants to bail out the upstate and uneconomic FitzPatrick and Ginna reactors–which would only slow the deployment of renewables and would cost NY ratepayers billions.

Last week, we let you know about New York’s new proposal to subsidize most of the state’s existing nuclear reactors. And we promised you a more in-depth piece after we had a chance to digest the idea. So here you have it: It’s a really bad idea. Continue reading

Governor Cuomo’s schizophrenic nuclear policies

NY Governor Cuomo thinks Indian Point is too dangerous to operate. He's right. But why are upstate reactors any different?

NY Governor Cuomo thinks Indian Point is too dangerous to operate. He’s right. But why are upstate reactors any different?

In mid-1986, New York Governor Mario Cuomo was asked about the future of nuclear power. The future of nuclear power, he replied, “is Chernobyl.” He understood that nuclear power is dangerous, and he understood that it could never become safe enough to use. He made good on that statement too: he decided to prevent the Shoreham reactor on Long Island, for which construction was basically completed and it had even been tested at very low power, from ever operating. Continue reading

Revisiting the pawn/toast prognostication as more reactors close

Another one bites the dust: New York's Fitzpatrick reactor will close permanently next year.

Another one bites the dust: New York’s Fukushima-clone Fitzpatrick reactor will close permanently next year.

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

Pilgrim’s closure, and what’s next for New England.

Entergy's Pilgrim reactor--the latest victim of nuclear power's increasingly wretched economics, not to mention sustained citizen activism.

Entergy’s Pilgrim reactor–the latest victim of nuclear power’s increasingly wretched economics, not to mention sustained citizen activism. Photo by Enformable.

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

Mainstreaming the nuclear exit

Exelon's Ginna reactor in New York, one of a growing number of economically troubled reactors. Photo from IAEA.

Exelon’s Ginna reactor in New York, one of a growing number of economically troubled reactors. Photo from IAEA.

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

The great nuclear bailout list: who’s a pawn, who’s toast.

Washington DC residents rally outside the District Building September 17, 2015 against Exelon's proposed takeover of Pepco.

Washington DC residents rally outside the District Building September 17, 2015 against Exelon’s proposed takeover of Pepco. Photo by Tim Judson

When a nuclear power utility says one of its reactors is economically troubled and it may close early, should you believe it? For that matter, when a nuclear power utility says anything at all, should you believe it?

Since the answer to the second question is almost always no, the answer to the first is self-evident. Continue reading