Tag Archives: NRG Energy

Yes, America wants solar and wind, not nukes

solarbetterthanstocks

Investing in solar power now brings a better return than investing in the S&P 500. Graphic from NC Clean Energy Technology Center.

Just in case there was any doubt, “Americans ‘overwhelmingly’ prefer solar and wind energy to coal, oil, and nuclear energy, according to a Harvard political scientist who has conducted a comprehensive survey of attitudes toward energy and climate for the last 12 years.” So begins a New Year’s Day column in Forbes by Jeff McMahon that a lot of people missed–for most people, New Year’s Day is not prime time for reading about energy issues.

It’s not even close. 80% of the American people want solar and wind to increase a lot, and another 10% want it to increase somewhat (The other 10% probably earn their living either directly or indirectly from the nuclear and fossil fuel industries, or perhaps live in caves and don’t want electricity, or maybe just lie to pollsters). Continue reading

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It’s put up or shut up time for Exelon

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.

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

NRG spars with Exelon over uneconomic reactors, carbon rule

There are two GE Mark I reactors at Exelon's uneconomic Quad Cities site.

There are two GE Mark I reactors in one building at Exelon’s uneconomic Quad Cities site.

Hearings begin today before the Illinois Commerce Commission on what will become a pivotal battle over the future of nuclear power–not only in Illinois, but across the nation.

That’s because the hearings will ultimately lead to legislation that likely will determine the fate of Exelon’s admittedly uneconomic and aging nuclear reactors in the state. And how Illinois comes down on the issue may well become a precedent for other states.

The hearings are on Illinois’ plan to reduce carbon emissions, a process every state will have to go through once the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is put into effect, probably next year. But Illinois is starting early because some of Exelon’s reactors are in dire straits and the utility wants a bailout now.

Exelon is leaving nothing to chance; as the Chicago Tribune put it Friday, “Exelon is busy pulling political strings to ensure it is rewarded financially for its nuclear power plants….”

For example, the Tribune reports that “…Exelon has taken strides to beef up its political might after repairing a long-standing tiff with House Speaker Michael Madigan.” In return, Madigan got a resolution through the state legislature last session that will result in a pile of reports. Reports designed to help Exelon. Reports “that lay out the financial, environmental and economic benefits of Exelon’s nuclear fleet in Illinois.” The Tribune noted that while more than half of Illinois’ power comes from non-nuclear sources, “none of those companies has received that kind of treatment from Madigan. A spokesman for Madigan did not respond.”

Exelon’s goal in Illinois is to replace the state’s currently non-functional Renewable Portfolio Standard with a new Clean Energy carbon-based standard that would reward Exelon’s reactors, while putting the kibosh on renewable energy investment in the state for decades to come.

And that has brought NRG Energy into the fray.

Lee Davis, executive vice president and regional president for NRG Energy’s east region, criticized the idea that existing nuclear plants should be propped up.

“We want to reduce carbon emissions, not maintain the status quo,” he said of the EPA’s goal of 30 percent greenhouse gas reductions from 2005 levels by 2030.

The goal of the carbon rule, Davis said, is to reduce carbon emissions, not to reward Exelon for something it’s been doing….

“What Exelon is asking for is state funds to support nuclear units that are now uneconomic. If they’re uneconomic today, they’re going to be uneconomic in the future,” Davis said. “We’re responding to market signals, we’re cutting our carbon emissions. We think something forward-thinking needs to be done. Introduce renewables to help you achieve your goal.”

Davis said he’d like to see the state come up with an approach to meeting carbon-reduction goals that rewards flexibility.

“What Exelon is suggesting here is, put all your eggs in the nuclear basket and just trust Exelon,” he said.

Exelon is also going after the EPA’s carbon rule, which currently encourages additional support for 6% of a state’s nuclear generation–meaning some sort of ratepayer or taxpayer subsidy for nuclear power. Exelon doesn’t think that’s enough and is urging EPA to make that number much larger–in fact, it wants EPA to add support for all nuclear power, whether or not it is currently uneconomic.

Said Exelon exec William Von Hoene, “We want this to be a marketplace solution, not a subsidy solution. We have federal subsidies for two kinds of generation: wind and solar. That’s not a market. We’re picking two specific technologies. Let’s decide: What’s the goal? Reliable? Clean? Create a marketplace that supports those goals and let the marketplace decide.”

It’s really the classic “big lie” technique. Repeat something often enough–and Exelon does–maybe people will start to believe it. In this case, that’s the notion that only wind and solar receive any federal subsidies. In fact, all generation sources have received federal subsidies, and still do. And nuclear’s subsidies have far outweighed those of any other single generating source. Loan guarantees, the Price-Anderson Act, a woefully-underfunded Nuclear Waste Fund–which is now prevented from collecting any more money. Nuclear even has essentially the same Production Tax Credit for new reactors that Von Hoene is referring to as existing only for wind and solar.

Just trust Exelon? NRG clearly doesn’t. Neither should anyone else.

Michael Mariotte

August 18, 2014

Permalink: https://safeenergy.org/2014/08/18/nrg-spars-with-exelon/

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It’s not utilities leading the energy revolution

It's policy--not utility preference--that is enabling the renewable energy revolution.

It’s policy–not utility preference–that is enabling the renewable energy revolution.

Last Friday, we noted that Ceres has released a major new report ranking the renewable energy production and energy efficiency programs of the 32 largest electric utility holding companies in the U.S.

But that note came in a brief update to our post Exelon supporting solar power in Massachusetts? Um, nope.  It was easy to miss and the report–and its implications–deserve more attention.

That’s especially so now that two experts, from very different ends of the energy arena, have weighed in with their perspectives. Continue reading

Nuclear Newsreel, Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Waste Control Specialists radioactive waste dump in Andrews County, Texas. WCS wants to triple the site's capacity and slash its liability at the same time.

The Waste Control Specialists radioactive waste dump in Andrews County, Texas. WCS wants to triple the site’s capacity and slash its liability at the same time.

It’s been a while since we caught up on the news, so let’s jump right in….

Nuclear Power

EPA chief Gina McCarthy has in essence admitted that our analysis of the EPA’s proposed carbon rules is correct: they are intended to boost the nuclear power industry, and are especially an effort to protect those uneconomic reactors–mostly owned by Exelon–that would close without more subsidies. However, McCarthy also demonstrated that she doesn’t know much about nuclear power or the reactors she’s trying to keep open: “There are a handful of nuclear facilities that because they are having trouble remaining competitive, they haven’t yet looked at re-licensing (to extend their operating lives). We were simply highlighting that fact,” McCarthy said at a round-table discussion with business leaders in Chicago. In fact, of the dozen or so reactors that have been publicly cited as in danger of closing because they’re losing money, only Exelon’s Clinton reactor has yet to receive a license extension. Perhaps that lack of knowledge at the top levels of the EPA is the reason the proposed rule is so inartfully worded.

In any case, McCarthy’s admission is just one more reason to make sure the largest possible response is provided to the EPA. The first step is signing and spreading the word about the NIRS/CREDOMobilize petition here. The next step is to begin organizing to attend, speak out and protest at the four public meetings EPA is setting up for public comment.  Continue reading

Nuclear Newsreel, Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The existing Turkey Point facility consists of two reactors, two gas/oil plants and one combined cycle natural gas plant. But FPL is considering adding two new reactors to the site.

The existing Turkey Point facility consists of two reactors, two gas/oil plants and one combined cycle natural gas plant. But FPL is considering adding two new reactors to the site.

A hearing is being held today in Florida on whether FPL should be allowed to build two new reactors at its Turkey Point site near Miami. The hearing is for a state permit, FPL would still need a license from the NRC to be able to build. And FPL has said it hasn’t decided yet whether it wants to build the reactors, which would be expected to cost about $18 Billion. An FPL spokesperson made the astonishing claim that the reactors would save $170 billion in fuel costs over natural gas over the next 60 years; we guess FPL alone has the crystal ball that can predict natural gas prices over that period, not to mention its certainty that the unbuilt reactors would receive a license extension to operate that long.

And, of course, the fuel cost savings over solar, wind and energy efficiency, the alternatives being promoted by Turkey Point opponents in The Sunshine State, would be a negative number. Then there’s that little matter of climate change, with Miami being one of the most vulnerable cities in the U.S. to climate-induced disaster.

Continue reading

NRC sends mixed signals on foreign involvement in U.S. reactors

The existing reactors at South Texas. NRG had wanted to build two more, but has dropped that idea--now only Toshiba thinks it's a good idea.

The existing reactors at South Texas. NRG Energy had wanted to build two more at the site, but has dropped that idea–now only Toshiba thinks it’s a good idea.

Different parts of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission took opposite positions this month on how the agency will enforce its Atomic Energy Act-mandated rules prohibiting “foreign ownership, control or domination” of U.S. nuclear reactors, known as FOCD in agency parlance.

The NRC staff had joined with intervenors, including the SEED Coalition and Public Citizen Texas, challenging the license of the proposed South Texas nuclear project, which is owned by a consortium called NINA (Nuclear Innovation North America), which is composed of NRG Energy and Toshiba. Tokyo Electric Power originally was a member of the consortium but was forced to drop out of the project after the onset of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But NRG Energy–the lead partner at the time–also said it was dropping out of the project and stopped providing any funding for it after spending some $480 million in its initial stages. That left Toshiba holding the bag and keeping the project’s funding going. But although it stopped funding the project, NRG never formally left the consortium even though its CEO, David Crane–hardly an anti-nuclear advocate–has said repeatedly in public that no new reactors will be built in deregulated markets like Texas.

Continue reading