Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The ESP Hearing in Grand Gulf, Mississippi

Tonight at City Hall in Port Gibson, Mississippi, the NRC will conduct a public hearing on the draft environmental impact statement concerning Entergy's application for an early site permit (ESP) at the Grand Gulf ESP site.

Starting early this morning, NEI Nuclear Notes contributors Kelly Taylor and Michael Stuart have been on the scene in the state capital of Jackson, talking to the media about the benefits of nuclear energy, and what a new plant could do for the local and regional economy.

And, as Charles Seabrook of the Cox News Service recently reported, the locals are excited at the prospect of the construction of a new plant:

The local enthusiasm for a new plant was a major reason for Port Gibson's inclusion last week on NuStart's list of finalists. Later this year, the consortium will choose two sites to apply for licenses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at which to build and operate nuclear power plants. Obtaining a license could take years.
In December, the Claiborne County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in support of a new plant after Entergy announced that Port Gibson was being eyed as a possible site. Inclusion on NuStart's list will make the town's bid even stronger.

"We want a new nuclear plant here," said Charles Shorts, the board's president. "We want everyone to understand that."

Port Gibson's mayor and board of aldermen also passed resolutions in early January, strongly encouraging the industry to build another Grand Gulf reactor.

"Nuclear energy is a safe, low-cost, emission-free source of power that is not dependent on foreign oil and gas," said Mayor Amelda Arnold. "We need more of it."
Yesterday I checked in with my colleague David Bradish to get a better idea on just how a new plant at Grand Gulf might help meet local electricity demand in the near future.

Mississippi is part of the Southeast Electric Reliability Council (SERC), an area that comprises all or part of 10 states. According to EIA, electricity demand in the area will increase 51% by 2025 (1.9% per year). More importantly, nuclear's contribution to electrical generation will peak in 2015 -- which means that the only way to add more non-emitting baseload generation would be by building a new nuclear power plant.

Pro-nuclear protesters at the Capitol

At 11:30 a.m. local time, Entergy employees and other concerned citizens took their case to the Capitol in Jackson, and held a rally in support of the plant. This is something the industry is doing more often these days, as it gets more aggressive in delivering the facts on nuclear energy to the public.

Kelly and Mike are now off to Port Gibson to attend the hearing, and they've both promised me a report once the hearing is through. Stay tuned for more details.

2 comments:

Matthew66 said...

I noticed on the NRC's website that NIRS and Public Citizen had registered to speak. I couldn't find out whether that meant that those who registered got to speak first or not. I would be very concerned if, at a future hearing, the eighteen people at the anti-nuclear protest rally registered, and spoke for five minutes each, using up 90 of the 120 minutes alotted for public comments. I urge NA-YGN and AAEA to investigate whether this could happen, and if so, to ensure that they register when they intend to attend a public meeting. I would hate for a meeting to be dominated by one interest group, unless that group represents an overwhelming majority of opinion. Whilst I think that the pro-nuclear groups represent a majority opinion, it is not 90%, so everyone should have a chance to speak.

Lisa Stiles-Shell said...

Matthew,

You've actually hit upon one of our Lessons Learned! When NA-YGN hosted a pro-nuclear rally at a similar hearing in Louisa, many of us had registered to speak through emails or phone calls to the NRC. What we didn't realize until too late is that we also had to "check-in" at a desk at least 15 minutes prior to the meeting. Most of us were able to do that, but some didn't get the message.

The NRC does everything it can to be fair with time slots at these hearings. They give preference to local residents and also try to ensure that speakers representing organizations, whether pro- or anti-, are allowed to speak. If the crowd and list of registered speakers is large, they will strictly enforce a time limit. Also, at the Louisa hearing, the NRC moderator extended the comment period well past 120 minutes

The antinuclear groups have more experience at organizing this type of thing, but we are quickly learning the ropes!

Lisa