Tag Archives: Indian Point

The Astronomical Cost of New Subsidies for Old Reactors: $280 Billion.

ny-bailout-protest_cropGreenWorld 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.
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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

Exelon’s effort to extend Ginna takes new turn

Exelon's Ginna reactor, on Lake Ontario. Photo from IAEA.

Exelon’s Ginna reactor, on Lake Ontario. Photo from IAEA. Are my eyes deceiving me or is the containment building housed in a Potemkin structure?

Exelon has successfully convinced the New York Public Service Commission to take its side on the fate of the Ginna reactor–so far. The PSC ordered Rochester Gas & Electric, which had been buying power from the reactor, to engage in a new round of negotiations to continue purchasing its electricity–at least for the next four years or so. Continue reading

Visualizing the climate march

pcmpressnonukesWith just over three weeks to go until the September 21 People’s Climate March, we are receiving more and more questions from people about everything from logistical details to the message of the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free Contingent.

In some cases, we just don’t have answers yet–especially on some of the logistical issues, some of which are pretty important. The People’s Climate March didn’t exactly have everything planned when the organizers announced the event. From our perspective, it seems more like the event was announced with the hope that it would take off, and the planning would depend on the response.

Fortunately, the event has taken off and momentum clearly is building. About 200 buses to NYC are confirmed and more are being chartered from various areas of the country just about daily. There are special trains coming from the West Coast and from Washington DC. There are car caravans being set up. And, of course, with tens of millions of people living within commuting range of New York City, there is a huge local base to draw on who don’t need chartered buses or other special transportation. Continue reading