Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hertsgaard and the "Real" Cost of Nuclear Energy

Last month Marketplace on NPR ran a commentary by Mark Hertsgaard from the Nation on the "High Cost of Nuclear Energy". If you've never heard of him, he wrote a book back in 1983 titled: Nuclear Inc. The Men and Money Behind the Nuclear Industry.

Eric and I have been playing with podcasting for the site and would like to share our first podcast on Mr. Hertsgaard's commentary. Listen here for the critique.

As well, I was interviewed last week by John Wheeler from "This Week in Nuclear" discussing nuclear's costs and the MIT study Mr. Hertsgaard references. In the coming weeks John and I plan to discuss nuclear's subsidies which Hertsgaard claims nuclear can't live without.

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Anonymous said...

Can the NEI please get an annual tally for the total cash flow from the nuclear power industry back to public coffers (state, federal and local property taxes)? Property taxes alone must total more than 1 billion annually. And don't forget user fees to the NRC. My suspicion is that net subsidies (subsidies received minus taxes paid) to the nuclear power industry are actually way, way negative, but I don't have the data to prove it. This seems like a job for NEI.

Randal Leavitt said...

I guess I missed the training day when everyone learned that subsidies are a bad thing. Lots of good things are subsidized: sewars, police, army. What's the problem with subsidies, even if they are needed? The anti-nuke cult is speaking in code when the word "subsidies" is read out, and everyone in the audience is supposed to go "oooooo" at that point to show that they are true cult zealots. I think I lost my cult membership card a long time ago.

Let me state this another way - I would rather be alive using subsidized clean energy than baked to death due to global heating caused by unsubsidized dirty energy. And it is really hot outside today.

David Bradish said...

Anon, we are working on pulling together some papers on subsidies received by the industry as well as other fuel sources.

Preliminary results suggest the most subsidized industry is oil and gas primarily due to the subsidizing of exploration and drilling.

We do have studies done on individual plants and the economic benefits paid to the community. Check it out here.

Randall, you're exactly right. When lawmakers subsidize an energy source it means that they want it badly. Nuclear received a great amount of R&D back in the '70s when everyone wanted it.

Now 30 years later the antis are using these costs to say its a bad thing even though only 103 reactors provide 20% of the electricity in the U.S. without producing emissions. There are over 3,000 coal units producing 50% of the electricity.

I'd say that's efficiency and that the R&D money was well spent.

mr. X said...

Im actually very fond of subsidies when it comes to things like alternitive energy. Im just not in favor of nuclear power.