GreenWorld has covered the unfolding story of the American nuclear power industry’s clamor for new subsidies and bailouts since it started in 2014. Purely as a spectator sport, it might have been entertaining to watch the country’s largest utilities go from proclaiming a “Nuclear Renaissance” a decade ago to peddling the message that “Nuclear Matters.”
But there is just too much at stake to treat it like a game. The utility industry’s ramped-up efforts to block renewable energy and horde billions of our clean energy dollars to prop up old nukes risks both climate and nuclear disaster. Most of these proposals have been failing, thanks to the dogged persistence of grassroots activists and clean energy groups–and, it must be said, the outrageous sticker price of subsidies the industry needs. In fact, just this week, the two-year saga of FirstEnergy’s $8 billion nuclear-plus-coal bailout plan seems to have ended, with what amounts to a consolation gift to a couple FirstEnergy utility companies. Still an outrageous corporate giveaway, but no subsidies for nuclear or coal, even after it seemed like a done deal a few months ago.
But New York Governor Cuomo’s decision in August to award a 12-year, $7.6 billion subsidy package to four aging reactors–including reversing Entergy’s decision to close the FitzPatrick reactor this coming January–has put wind into the industry’s sails. Even that chapter isn’t over, with lawsuits already being filed and several more expected. And environmental groups this week launched a new campaign to get Governor Cuomo to smell the coffee and cancel what will not only be the largest corporate give-away in the state’s history, but relegate clean energy to second-class status behind old nukes. Continue reading →
Exelon’s Clinton reactor nearly bankrupted the small utility and rural co-ops that originally built it. Despite being bought for a few cents on the dollar by Exelon, it still isn’t economic and Exelon is “threatening” to close it. Photo by cryptome.org.
While some potential legal challenges remain, the approval of the Exelon-Pepco merger by the Washington, D.C. Public Service Commission means that Exelon is now not only the largest nuclear powered utility in the U.S., it is the largest electric utility period. And with that steady stream of regulated, and non-nuclear, Pepco money filling its coffers, you’d think that Exelon’s continuing “threats” to close up to three of its Illinois reactor sites unless it obtains more bailouts from beleaguered Illinois taxpayers and ratepayers would fall on deaf ears. Or maybe Exelon is now trying to achieve “too big to fail” status? Continue reading
Exelon’s Fukushima-clone Dresden nuclear complex (Unit 1, on the right, has been closed since 1978 as it couldn’t meet safety regulations).
It should surprise absolutely no one that a utility that relies on dirty energy to make its money also plays dirty when its money is threatened or when a state legislature is considering whether to bail out the company with its constituents’ money.
So don’t be surprised that we report that yes indeed, gasp, Exelon is playing dirty in Illinois. And just about everywhere else too.
Misleading robocalls. A subsidiary trying to sabotage energy efficiency programs. Even hiding–or at least not drawing attention to–a huge tax case loss. That’s Exelon in action.Continue reading
Exelon has threatened to close its GE Mark I reactors at Quad Cities. Yes, they’re uneconomic, but they’re not safe either. Exelon should make good on its threat; instead it’s seeking a massive ratepayer bailout to keep them open.
After a year of making us wait with bated breath, last week Exelon unveiled its proposals for the energy future. And man, is it anti-climactic. And anti-CLIMATIC, actually. The long and the short of it is that Exelon is proposing that the state of Illinois and energy regulators at every level create new ways to subsidize the company’s old nuclear plants, to the tune of a billion dollars a year or more, while undermining real climate solutions. This is exactly what we expected all along, but until this week, Exelon had talked mostly in platitudes about how “under-valued” its nuclear gems are by “dysfunctional” markets and “unfair” renewable energy programs. Well, now the cards are on the table and we know what Exelon thinks it will take to stop the nuclear industry from backsliding into an economic phaseout. Continue reading
Exelon’s allegedly uneconomic Byron reactors. Photo from wikipedia.
After more than a year of laying the groundwork–well-documented in these pages–Exelon yesterday finally unveiled its plan to force ratepayers to bail out its allegedly uneconomic nuclear reactors at Quad Cities, Clinton and Byron.
It’s a legislative proposal that runs about 100 pages, but can be summarized this way: Exelon wants to set up a new “low-carbon” energy standard that would include nuclear power, “clean” coal and renewables. Ratepayers would have to pay a surcharge to accommodate this standard. And Exelon’s proposal would rig the rules so that its aging, expensive reactors would reap most–and probably all–of the benefit. After all, “clean” coal doesn’t exist and Exelon’s approach would actually prevent renewables from receiving much, if any, of the surcharge. Continue reading
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
Artist’s rendition of an Exelon building in Baltimore. The nuclear giant didn’t get what it wanted–grounds for a ratepayer bailout– from Illinois state agencies.
Last May, the Illinois legislature responded to months of mounting hysteria from Exelon that several of the utility’s reactors in the state were losing money and might be forced to close by passing HR 1146, which directed four state agencies to examine Exelon’s claims with a clear intent to support the utility. In October, the Nuclear Energy Institute piled on, releasing a study meant to bolster Exelon’s position and influence the state agencies.
Exelon should have heeded the old adage: be careful what you ask for. Continue reading