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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
Number of posts: 29,798

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Nuclear payment plan divisive in other states (Great research on nuclear financing)

Nuclear payment plan divisive in other states
Ten have passed laws letting utilities charge for work on plants before they're finished.

11:52 PM, Apr. 23, 2012 Written by PERRY BEEMAN

Here are snapshots of a few other states’ experiences with advance cost recovery legislation for nuclear plants, based on information from utilities and from Mark Cooper of the Vermont Law School.

Debate at a glance

...The bill under consideration by the Iowa Legislature deals with nuclear plant financing. A more fundamental question lurks in the background: Do Iowans support nuclear power? Supporters say nuclear plants will provide dependable, clean, cost-effective power that will allow the United States to move away from far dirtier power generation from coal and natural gas. Opponents want the nuclear option off the table, citing the expense, risk of reactor meltdown and lack of a method to safely store nuclear waste long-term.

The Iowa Legislature’s indecision over nuclear-energy legislation comes amid a growing revolt in other states over utilities’ moves to charge ratepayers for work on nuclear plants before the reactors are finished, and even if they are never built.

A Des Moines Register review of so-called advance cost recovery legislation, already passed in 10 states, found that the debate hasn’t ended with the legislation’s passage.

The nuclear industry and ratepayers are battling over who should take on the financial risk posed by building nuclear plants. The ratepayer revolt runs from the Iowa Statehouse to the Tampa Bay area of Florida. There, customers of two utilities have been asked to pay for plants with an estimated price tag of $43 billion, starting during the planning process, even though some experts doubt the reactors will be built...


I really can't stress stongly enough how well done this article is.

Sourcing the attacks on renewable energy

ALEC Says It Plans To Craft Legislation To Take Down State Renewable Energy Targets

By Stephen Lacey on Apr 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Two leading conservative political organizations say they are stepping up coordinated efforts to repeal state-level renewable energy targets.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a “stealth business lobbyist” that works with corporate interests to help them write and implement “model” legislation — says it may soon start crafting laws designed to kill or weaken state targets for renewable electricity, heating and fuels.

ALEC has come under fire in recent weeks for its support of voter ID laws and the controversial Stand-Your-Ground law that opponents blame for the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. After progressive groups began an aggressive campaign to educate the public about ALEC, 13 companies have since pulled their membership from the organization.

Last July, Bloomberg News acquired tax documents showing that Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and other energy companies paid membership fees to ALEC in order to help write legislation repealing carbon pollution reduction programs in states around country.

Bloomberg now reports that ALEC is looking to take aim at renewable energy programs in states:
ALEC, a group of state lawmakers and corporations recently criticized for its support of Stand-Your-Ground laws highlighted in the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin, may write model legislation for state lawmakers to repeal or weaken the mandates later this year, said Todd Wynn, energy, environment and agriculture task force director for the group, in an interview. Stand-Your-Ground laws allows citizens to use force when threatened, even when they can retreat.

The group may also develop an “energy freedom” index that ranks states based on regulation, market intervention and taxes.



What's the specific *market* mechanism by which nuclear shuts down coal?

I don't deny that you can, by government fiat, build nuclear plants and shut down coal plants. However in today's world that is not a highly likely scenario. We have a world if interlocking economies and trading which results in rule-making that favors the interest of private property. You can rewrite some of those rules to change the direction of the energy systems, however, the mechanism that you use anywhere in the western world is not going to allow either the overt defacto or dejure expropriation of private property, which is what you are suggesting.

The process of shutting down the nuclear plants in Germany began in 2000 and was reversed just prior to Fukushima; which opened a rare window of opportunity where existing strong public sentiment and a just changed hold-over policy combined with a world class disaster to allow the mechanism of Germany's social democracy to accomplish a rare event - they stripped their utilities of private property rights related to operation of the nuclear plants.

In the real world as opposed to the fantasy world of the nuclear enthusiast, there are definite constraints on the policies a nation can push through. Nuclear cannot compete in any market for energy without massive government funding and the appetite for continued funding of this very mature industry is gone. It has delivered only rising prices, a litany of dangers and empty promises to do better in a future that never comes.

Nuclear power today cannot displace coal for they both benefit from the rules that are designed to promote the interests of the centralized utilities - which are solidly built around large-scale centralized thermal generation.

Finally if we could just direct the change of the system by a single order as you are suggesting what in the world makes you think we would do it on behalf of nuclear power? We have a global economy where nuclear will play, at most, no more than a small, fractional role. That being the case it is more of an obstruction than an aid in the pursuit of a true carbon free economy built on distributed renewable energy.

This paper makes the case very well, I suggest you read it for understanding instead of just looking through it trying to find something to nitpick, as is your custom.
Amory Lovins: “But nuclear power is about the least effective method: It does save carbon, but about 2 to 20 times less per dollar and 20 to 40 times less per year than buying its winning competitors”.

Bill Keepin and Gregory Kats: Improving electrical efficiency is nearly seven times more cost-effective than nuclear power for abating CO2 emissions, in the United States.

Environment California: “Per dollar spent over the lifetime of the technology, energy efficiency and biomass co-firing are five times more effective at preventing carbon dioxide pollution and combined heat and power is greater than three times more effective” than nuclear power.

Warwick Business School: The undermining of other technologies means that nuclear power is not complementary to other low- carbon technologies. This refutes the argument that all low-carbon technologies should, and are able to, be harnessed together so that they can harmoniously work together to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. On the contrary, the government has to make a choice between a nuclear future and one dominated by renewable generation and the more efficient use of energy.

Duke University: “Solar photovoltaics have joined the ranks of lower-cost alternatives to new nuclear plants,” John O. Blackburn, professor of economics.


You and DP need to remember that the is the wish list for those utilities that are really being hurt by the policies of Germany that are moving the country towards a renewable distributed grid. They ARE NOT making this transition voluntarily, they are being downsized by new economic policies regarding renewables that work within boundaries of acceptable market economics. This article is the context for the utility wish list in the OP. The government is in a rulemaking phase and the list above is what the utilities would like to see to preserve their corporate power. We will see how much of their program survives the Environment Minister.

Merkel To Meet Power Companies On German Energy Future
04/24/2012 | 10:55am

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited the country's four main utilities to a May 2 meeting to begin hashing out how best to fill the void in its future energy capacity, a year after she decided to rapidly shift away from nuclear power.

The meeting comes after Germany pledged a complete exit from nuclear energy by 2022 and a massive push into renewable energy. The move led to the country's main utilities suffering sharp falls in revenues and earnings, having to implement complex restructuring plans and, in some cases, seeking billions of euros in compensation from the government.

In May, Merkel will face the chief executives of those utilities--E.ON AG (>> E.ON AG), RWE AG (>> RWE AG), EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG (>> Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG), and Vattenfall Europe, a unit of Sweden's state-controlled Vattenfall AB--as well as representatives from Siemens AG (SI) and from power network operators. They will discuss how to approach the transformation in the country's energy mix, a government official said Tuesday.


Utilities complain that the rapid expansion of solar and wind energy has made it more difficult to operate and keep profitable fossil-fueled power plants. Germany gives priority to renewable energy, while fossil-fueled plants can feed their power only in to the grid when wind and sun power doesn't meet demand.


Ashes from Sewer Sludge with 16,670 Bq/kg Cesium Dumped

More on living with the consequences of a meltdown. Note the cherry blossoms in the background - a sure sign that this is a heavily used public area; in fact it turns out to be the grounds of a high school.

Ashes from Sewer Sludge with 16,670 Bq/kg Cesium Dumped in the Final Disposal Site in Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture

Kiryu City's assemblyman Hidenori Nishimaki and Assemblywoman Yuki Niwayama visited the final disposal site for sewer sludge and took some pictures. The site is maintained by the city's water department.

First, this is how the ashes from burning the sewer sludge from May and June last year is stored safely. The ashes from May were found with 16,670 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, and the ashes from June with 9,623 becquerels/kg, says Assemblyman Nishimaki. If you think they are not supposed to dump the ashes with more than 8,000 becquerels/kg in the final disposal site, you are right, but they do it anyway in Kiryu City. (Probably Kiryu is not alone.)

And these ashes have 2,000 to 3,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. No protection, not even the blue tarp and sandbags.

From Assemblywoman Niwayama's blog, surreal dialog between the official at the site and Niwayama:

庭山:空間線量、高いですね。 Niwayama: Air radiation is high here, isn't it?

職員:ここは出ます?当然のよう? Official: Yes it is (saying as a matter of fact).

庭山:近隣の人、聞いてみたけど、ここに放射性廃棄物捨ててるの知らないですよ。 N: I've asked the neighbors. They don't know that radioactive waste is being dumped here.

職員:回覧板で回しましたけどね。 O: We've notified them using the neighborhood circular notice.

庭山:怒っていますよ。 N: They are angry.

職員:佐藤光好議員に相談したら、近隣だけで十分ということで4丁目にだけ回覧版を回しました。 O: When we asked the assemblyman of the district, he said only the residents in the vicinity needed to be notified. So we notified only the 4-chome** residents....

Much more at http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2012/04/ashes-from-sewer-sludge-with-16670-bqkg.html

** chome (pronounced with a short e) designates a city subdivision of a postal zone. It is probably no more than a few blocks of the surrounding area at most.

Republican Meteorologist: Climate Change Has Nothing To Do With Al Gore

We are seeing a bit of a gush of these types of articles lately. Blowback against the TeaParty insanity? We can only hope. By my informal reckoning the percentage of die-hard right wing nuts can be measured by Shrub's lowest approval rating, which as I recall was about 28%. I wonder how many of those in the 20 point spread (between that 28% and the normal 48% or so that tend to vote R) Obama can peel off if Romney continues to align himself with the kooks?

Republican Meteorologist: Climate Change Has Nothing To Do With Al Gore
By Climate Guest Blogger on Apr 20, 2012 at 11:30 am
by Paul Douglas, via Bloomberg Businesweek

I’m a moderate Republican — a fan of small government, light regulation and market solutions. A serial entrepreneur, I founded companies that invented 3-D television weather graphics and the first app on a cell phone. I’m a Penn State meteorologist. My day-job since 1979: tracking weather for TV news.

If you know anything about American politics these days, and follow the climate war at all, you might anticipate with some confidence that I agree global warming is a hoax. That’s a shame, and I hope it changes soon.

In the 1980s I was skeptical that an upward blip in global temperatures was the result of manmade gases. Then the blips persisted. By the mid-90s I began to see them as unsettling changes. The weather was becoming erratic and even more unpredictable than usual. Storms were more frequent and intense. Curious, I began including climate statistics in daily TV weather segments, like annual trends in flash-flooding, hail, summer humidity, fewer subzero nights and decreased snowfall.

Mixing climate and weather was a problem in local TV news, with its reliance on Q-scores and market research. Finally, in 2008 I lost my job in local TV. I continued to write a daily column for the Star Tribune. Mixing climate news in with weather reports made me a lightning rod for skeptics there, too. The flame-mail was relentless. “Stop proselytizing, you crazy liberal – climb back under your rock!” wrote one reader. That’s one of the tamer, more family-friendly messages I’ve received.

I don’t take speaking out on this topic lightly....


Group fails to report plans for plutonium

Group fails to report plans for plutonium

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan has violated government policy by failing to compile a plan on how it intends to use the half ton of plutonium it expects to extract from spent fuel in fiscal 2012, sources said Saturday.

The deadline was March 31, when fiscal 2011 ended. Without a plan, Japan could come under international fire again for its blatant lack of transparency, given the risks of the plutonium being diverted for nuclear weapons use or terrorism.

Japan has around 30 tons of plutonium sitting around for nuclear power generation, but only a few kilograms are needed for a nuclear weapon.

At the end of 2009, Japan had the fifth-largest stores of plutonium for nonmilitary use, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In 2003...


Bill Gates disses efficiency, “cute” solar, deployment — still doesn’t know how he got rich

Pro-geoengineering Bill Gates disses efficiency, “cute” solar, deployment — still doesn’t know how he got rich
On why he invests so much in nuke R&D: “The good news about nuclear is that there has hardly been any innovation.”
By Joe Romm on May 5, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Is there any super-rich tech geek who knows less about WTF he is talking about than Bill Gates? Bizarrely, he keeps dissing technology deployment as a source of innovation, even though that’s how he innovated and got rich (see below).

Even more bizarrely, Gates loves nuclear power because … wait for it … there’s been no innovation. He just said at the Wired business conference:

“The good news about nuclear is that there has hardly been any innovation. The room to do things differently is quite dramatic”

Seriously. That must hold the record for trying to make lemonade out of lemons. It is certainly possible to believe that the lack of innovation in nuclear power is due to, oh, I don’t know, businesses simply sleeping on the job for the past 30 years.

Or perhaps there is another reason, as a 2010 paper argued (see Does nuclear power have a negative learning curve? ‘Forgetting by doing’? Real escalation in reactor investment costs): “It may be more productive to start asking whether these trends are not intrinsic to the very nature of the technology itself: large-scale, lumpy, and requiring a formidable ability to manage complexity in both construction and operation.”

But it isn’t enough for Gates to tout...


Japan panel to set solar power fee at 51 cents/kwh -Nikkei

Japan panel to set solar power fee at 51 cents/kwh -Nikkei
Sun Apr 22, 2012 11:09pm EDT

(Reuters) - A Japanese government panel is likely to recommend utilities pay 42 yen (51 cents) per kilowatt-hour (kwh) for solar power supplies in a feed-in tariff scheme, in line with requests by the solar power industry, the Nikkei business daily said.

Japan is overhauling its energy policy after the Fukushima nuclear crisis shattered public confidence in the safety of atomic power, and is set to introduce a new subsidy scheme from July which covers all kinds of renewable energy to support the budding market for domestically produced power.

The recommended rate for solar power includes tax and is to be paid for about 20 years, the report said on Monday. That is roughly double the rate that households pay for electricity usage and almost meets the solar power industry's request for 42 yen without tax, it added.

The rates could encourage potential business investors to enter the market, but the higher rate would come at a greater cost to consumers, to whom the utilities pass on the burden...


Actually the 4th paragraph is a questionable assumption. The German experience shows that the savings from displaced fossil fuels tends to equal or exceed the subsidy.

Bill Gates Never Ran an Energy Company: Solar Isn't Just ‘Cute’, It’s At Grid Parity In 20 States

Bill Gates Never Ran an Energy Company: Solar Is More Than Just ‘Cute’, It’s At Grid Parity In 20 States!

by Jigar Shah, via Huffington Post

Last year, Bill Gates noted in an interview with Alan Murray of the Wall Street Journal that technologies like solar photovoltaics and LED lights were “cute” but could never deal with the bigger issue of climate change and powering the developing world.

And, this week, writer Marc Gunther wrote in his post that “Germany, once the world’s leading market for solar power, is pulling back its subsidies. Q Cells, once the world’s largest solar company, just went bankrupt.’ This isn’t happy news.”

So, I am writing to point out three things:

1. The solar industry is growing and is significant, but is not going to solve all the ills of carbon;
2. Mistakes are a blessing; and
3. Theory is theory, not a solution

1. Solar Growth: First, let me make note that I, and others, have just spent the last decade in solar creating the solar services industry which, according to the 2011 National Solar Jobs Census published by the Solar Foundation, grew 6.8 percent between 2010 and 2011.

Plus, the solar industry installed $90 billion of equipment last year...


Safety decision-making in business

Just prepare a "stakeholder communications plan" and give the problem a new name! Problem solved, money saved.

Ageing nuclear cargo ship brought back into service after new ship is scrapped
25-year-old Pacific Pintail continues to transport radioactive material for state-owned company after £44m new ship plan cut

An ageing nuclear cargo ship has been rescued from the scrapyard to save money transporting plutonium and other radioactive materials around the world, prompting accusations that maritime safety is being jeopardised.

The 25-year-old vessel, Pacific Pintail, has been brought back into service to make dozens of international shipments between nuclear plants over the next three years. Last month it moved three kilograms of plutonium under armed guard from Sweden to the US.

The Pintail was laid up at Barrow in Cumbria two years ago for decommissioning, but has been resurrected after a £44m plan to build a new nuclear cargo ship was abandoned as too expensive. An internal report seen by the Guardian admits that the continued use of the old ship "will present some PR difficulties".

But the problems could be managed, the report said, by preparing a "stakeholder communications plan" and by giving the boat a new name. It has subsequently been renamed the Oceanic Pintail.

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