Thursday, November 30, 2006

Celebrity Sighting near Oyster Creek (Wait, isn't he supposed to be in France?)

NA-YGN member April Schilpp alerted me to a “Clinic Symposium on Campaign to Close Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant” at Rutgers University next Friday, December 8. And it will be hosted by actor Alec Baldwin—maybe he came back after discovering that nearly 80% of France’s electricity is generated by nuclear power plants?

Anyway, the agenda is:

1)Richard Webster, Attorney, Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic and Eastern Environmental Law Center: Safety issues

2) Bob Alvarez, Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Energy 1993-1999: Spent fuel dangers and general vulnerability

3) Julia Huff: Attorney, Rutgers Environmental Law Clinic and Executive Director, Eastern Environmental Law Center: Environmental issues associated with Oyster Creek operations: marine impacts

4) Joe Mangano, Executive Director, Radiation and Public Health Project: Health issues

5) Paul Gunter, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) – Exelon’s pattern of deception and incompetence

6) Questions – timing variable

7) Alec Baldwin, What You Can Do

Local NA-YGN members are planning to attend and give out material telling the other side of the story. If you want to support the effort, send an email to supportOysterCreek-at-hotmail.com.

I’ll post more information as I receive it!

NEI Energy Markets Report (November 20th - 24th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices mostly decreased throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub increasing $0.08 to $7.41 / MMBtu (see page 4).

Uranium prices rose to $63 / lb U3O8 according to UxC and at $64 / lb U3O8 according to TradeTech (see page 7).

Nuclear capacity availability averaged 88 percent last week. Twelve reactors were offline for refueling outages last week with five finishing. Three reactors were down for maintenance (see pages 2 & 3).

For the podcast click here. For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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GM Working on Plug-In Hybrid Saturn

From the AP:

General Motors Corp. has begun work on a plug-in hybrid power system for its Saturn Vue sport utility vehicle that could save on gasoline use, Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show. He offered no timetable on when it will be available, however.

Wagoner also said GM will start offering versions of its Hummer models that could run on biofuel within three years. The Hummers have become a lightning rod for critics of vehicle fuel efficiency.

"By developing alternative sources of energy and propulsion, we have the chance to mitigate many of the issues surrounding energy availability," he said in a speech at the auto show.
For those of you so inclined, you can find more on the LA Auto Show, here.

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The WNA Nuclear Blog Returns

After a long absence, our friends at the World Nuclear Association Blog are back in action. Be sure to stop by.

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Remembering the First Nuclear Electricity

The first electricity generated by nuclear power was produced December 20, 1951, soon to be 55 years ago, at the Experimental Breeder Reactor #1 (EBR-1) in Idaho.

For a comparison of past vs. present practices, that pioneer nuclear power plant was announced March, 1949. The first, albeit token, juice was produced 33 months later.

Yesterday, I participated in a scheduling meeting for the next new nuke. It will take us 14 months to mobilize then prepare and submit the application - and that's for a proven, certified design. First safety-related concrete pour takes another 24+ months following combined construction and operating license (COL) approval.

The take-home point is that the very first nuclear power plant was designed, built, tested, and on-line in the time it takes for a contemporary project to complete its paperwork.

Now, granted, there is a huge difference between EBR-1's 500 watts and tomorrow's 1400 megawatts, but those pioneers built their new, experimental reactor to be cooled with molten sodium metal while our plants are the result of 50 years of painstaking development and refinement of the light water reactor.

Perhaps the NRC's rules on "Limited Work Authorizations" (LWAs) could use some tweaking?

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Belgium Nuclear Update: Report Says Phase-Out Should Be Reversed

Mark down another European nation as having second thoughts about phasing out its nuclear capacity: Belgium.

A study commissioned by the Belgian energy ministry has concluded that a major review of current energy policy, including nuclear phase out, is required in order to meet other policy objectives, such as environmental goals.

[...]

The report also adds that upon lifting the nuclear phase-out law, an agreement with the owners of the Belgian nuclear power plants should be reached, for stimulating investments in energy savings and demand-side management, developments in renewable energy, and for development and research in emerging energy technologies and carriers.
For our previous post on Belgium's energy choices, click here.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chile Nuclear Update

A national conglomerate in Chile is talking to AREVA about using nuclear generated electricity to power its mining operations.

For a previous post on the issue, click here.

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Russia to Build 42 New Reactors by 2030

In Russia, it looks like the strategy is to export natural gas, and use nuclear energy for domestic electricity needs:

Russia plans to build 42 new nuclear reactors by 2030 as part of an ambitious program to revive its atomic power industry, the top nuclear official said Tuesday.

Federal Nuclear Agency director Sergei Kiriyenko said at a news conference that Russia would need to build at least two nuclear reactors a year to meet the goal.

Russia now has 31 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants, accounting for 16-17 percent of Russia's electricity generation, and President Vladimir Putin has called for raising the share to 25 percent.

Kiriyenko said the government would earmark some US$24 billion for building new nuclear reactors through 2015, and that Rosenergoatom, the state-controlled agency in charge of the nation's nuclear plants, would provide another US$26 billion through 2030 as nuclear power generation becomes increasingly profitable.
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GNEP Grant Awardees Announced

From DOE:

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced that 11 commercial and public consortia have been selected to receive up to $16 million in grants, subject to negotiation, to conduct detailed siting studies for integrated spent fuel recycling facilities under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) initiative. DOE will award the grants early next year after negotiations are completed with prospective awardees.

“As our economy grows so will the need for reliable, emissions-free energy generation. Nuclear energy can help meet that need and GNEP can do it in a way that maximizes the benefit of nuclear fuel while minimizing the risk of nuclear proliferation,” DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon said. “That is why we are pleased that so many communities across the country are interested in hosting the initial facilities necessary to support this exciting project. These selections are an important initial step in proceeding to evaluate and select locations to host GNEP facilities.”

Of the 11 sites located throughout the country, six are currently owned and operated by DOE. The study sites and sponsors are:

1. Atomic City, ID, EnergySolutions, LLC

2. Barnwell, SC, EnergySolutions, LLC

3. Hanford Site, WA, Columbia Basin Consulting Group/Tri-City Industrial Development Council

4. Hobbs, NM, Eddy Lea Energy Alliance

5. Idaho National Laboratory, ID Regional Development Alliance, Inc.

6. Morris, IL, General Electric Company

7. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN, Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee

8. Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, KY, Paducah Uranium Plant Asset Utilization, Inc.

9. Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, OH, Piketon Initiative for Nuclear Independence, LLC

10. Roswell, NM, EnergySolutions, LLC

11. Savannah River National Laboratory, SC, Economic Development Partnership of Aiken and Edgefield Counties

The grantees will perform detailed siting studies related to hosting one or both of the Consolidated Fuel Treatment Center and the Advanced Burner Reactor. The subsequent awards will be for a 90-day period of performance to complete a detailed site characterization study of each sponsored site. Congress provided up to $20 million in FY 2006 for integrated spent fuel recycling facilities siting studies. The remaining funds will be held in reserve to potentially fund supplemental activities if required.
Congratulations to all the awardees. And if the name Energy Solutions sounds familiar, there's a reason why.

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Study: 272 GWe in New Capacity Being Evaluated

From Industrialinfo.com:

Power plant developers are evaluating more than 272,000 megawatts (MW) of new power generation unit additions in the U.S. This set of more than 1,700 units takes into consideration only active, precommissioned units as identified by Industrial Info’s Power Tracker. The majority of these projects, about 87%, are scheduled to begin construction by 2012.

Coal-fired units lead all fuel types for future generation unit development with more than 71,000 MW planned. When an additional 117 IGCC units are accounted for the total output for planned coal derived power units in the U.S. jumps up to over 90,000 MW.

Development of coal (71,000 MW), nuclear (46,000 MW), and wind (47,000 MW) projects, each have outpaced natural gas fired unit development, which stands at about 45,000 MW from 426 units.
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California Nuclear Update: PG&E Looking at New Nuclear Build

From today's San Francisco Chronicle:

PG&E Corp. is considering investments in new nuclear plants outside California as a way to curb greenhouse gases, Chief Executive Officer Peter Darbee said Tuesday at an employee meeting on energy efficiency and climate change.

Other possible investments include solar power plants that use focused mirrors to heat water, generate steam and run electrical turbines.

California law forbids building more nuclear plants within the state until the United States has a permanent site for storing radioactive waste. But Darbee, whose San Francisco company owns the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near San Luis Obispo, argues that the country needs nuclear power if it hopes to fight global warming.
Back in September 2005, NEI CEO Skip Bowman gave a speech at LA Town Hall entitled, "Why American Needs Nuclear Energy Now".



Here's an excerpt:
Here in California, replacing the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon nuclear power plants with alternate fossil electricity sources would mean an additional 16.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, by our analysis. That'’s the equivalent of emissions from one-sixth of all the cars in the state.

These four reactors also helped prevent the emission of more than 9,500 tons of nitrogen oxides. To get the same impact, you would have to pull more than 500,000 cars off the road.

[...]

As I read through the Environmental Impact Report prepared by the California PUC on the San Onofre project, the wisdom of steam generator replacement became more and more clear and compelling.

For example, replacing more than 2,000 megawatts of capacity at San Onofre with combined-cycle gas-fired capacity would require construction of four to five new gas-fired plants, the Commission said in its analysis of alternatives. In addition, the new gas-fired plants would require new gas pipeline capacity to bring in the fuel, as well as new transmission lines and new or upgraded substations to carry the electricity to market.

The California PUC'’s environmental report also evaluated renewable energy alternatives to San Onofre. The PUC said that although these technologies "“do not rely on a finite supply of fossil fuel, consume little water and generate either zero or reduced levels of air pollutants and hazardous wastes ... these technologies do cause environmental impacts."”

The PUC concluded that all the renewable alternatives "“have unique technical feasibility limitations. High costs and, in some cases, limited dispatchability, inhibit their market penetration."
California would do well to give nuclear energy a second look.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Carolyn Heising, a professor of industrial, mechanical and nuclear engineering at Iowa State University, wrote an editorial last week in The Des Moines Register calling for a truce between proponents of wind and nuclear power. She persuasively argues that if you can support one energy source, you can -- and should -- support both.

It's time for a truce. In reality, nuclear and wind are not competitive, but complementary. And beyond that, large amounts of both are essential, if we hope
to continue meeting our power needs while cutting back on the fossil-fuel emissions that are heating up the global environment.

For its part, nuclear power is the only emissions-free source of affordable, large-scale electricity that can be counted on to generate power 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This capability is crucial. Our high-tech economy, based heavily on
computers and other electronics, requires total reliability in its electric power. Even brief blips in service can cause havoc - with airline safety, financial services and thousands of other sectors of our economy that rely heavily on electronics. For cities, factories and major computer operations, it takes a major power source that works around the clock. That means nuclear power.

Wind power cannot meet this need. It's too diffuse and too dependent on the whims of the weather. But what it can do is provide electricity to meet demand at peak times of the day, reducing the need for electricity from high-priced natural gas.

Working together - with energy efficiency and other renewables as they develop - they can help us meet the great challenge of the century: to provide the energy that the world needs (both the industrialized world and rapidly developing countries) while limiting our release of global-warming gases. We know that we will be unable to completely forgo the use of fossil fuels. But to the extent possible, we need to replace them with emission-free sources. That means recognizing that with the population of the United States topping 300 million people, adding the equivalent of one California every 10 years, the renewal of nuclear power and the further expansion of renewables are essential.

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NEI Nuclear Performance Report (October 2006)

Here's a summary of U.S. nuclear plant performances last month:

For October 2006, NEI estimates the average net capacity factor reached 76.8 percent. This figure is 5.4 percentage points lower than the same one month period in 2005. NEI estimates monthly nuclear generation at 57.3 billion kilowatt-hours for October 2006 compared to 61.4 BkWh for the same one month period in 2005.

For 2006, NEI estimates year to date nuclear generation at 656.0 billion kilowatt-hours compared to 648.5 BkWh in 2005 (1.2 percent increase).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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Energy Companies Get Ready for GHG Legislation

From Saturday's Washington Post:

While the political debate over global warming continues, top executives at many of the nation's largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inevitable.

The Democratic takeover of Congress makes it more likely that the federal government will attempt to regulate emissions. The companies have been hiring new lobbyists who they hope can help fashion a national approach that would avert a patchwork of state plans now in the works. They are also working to change some company practices in anticipation of the regulation.

"We have to deal with greenhouse gases," John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., said in a recent speech at the National Press Club. "From Shell's point of view, the debate is over. When 98 percent of scientists agree, who is Shell to say, 'Let's debate the science'?"
The always interesting Rod Adams has some thoughts.

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Today on E&E TV: Electric Drive Technology

Today's edition of E&E TV is featuring an interview with Brian Wynne, president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association. An excerpt from the E&E blurb:

During today's OnPoint Brian Wynne, president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, discusses his organization's plans to focus on educating Congress on automotive technologies and the steps the federal government can take to help the automobile industry accelerate the adoption of hybrids. He also discusses the importance of educating consumers about the myriad of alternative vehicles that are now available to them. Wynne talks about electric drive technologies working in conjunction with ethanol-powered vehicles to create a more energy secure nation.
Again, click here for the interview.

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The Atomic Show: Episode #38

This week Rod and Shane interview George Stanford about sodium cooled fast reactors.

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Paper quotations, real quotations

Admiral Hyman Rickover is remembered for many things. Among them is his dim view of "paper reactors", that is, nuclear reactors that exist only on paper. Over at Wikiquote, there is a reasonably long quotation from The Admiral that details how paper reactors differ from real reactors. It is said to be taken from the Journal of Reactor Science and Engineering, June 1953. I have seen the same quotation elsewhere, with the same source cited.

It'’s always good form in the nuclear industry to cite sources, but they have to be the right ones. In this case, I'm not convinced that the source is correct. I have spent a couple of hours with the online catalogs of several research libraries, including the libraries of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the John Crerar Library at the University of Chicago, and the Library of Congress. I always come up with the same result: there is no listing for the Journal of Reactor Science and Engineering, and the journals with similar names do not seem to go that far back in time.

I have one other reason to think that The Admiral'’s discussion of paper reactors and real reactors is from a different source, but it is a very tenuous reason. During a chance conversation, someone told me that he thought the quotation was from Rickover'’s testimony to a Congressional committee that wanted to know why his projects were overrun. The last part of the quotation would be appropriate for such an occasion: "Yet it is incumbent on those in high places to make wise decisions and it is reasonable and important that the public be correctly informed. It is consequently incumbent on all of us to state the facts as forthrightly as possible."

Do any of our readers have memories long enough to identify the real source of this quotation?

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Monday, November 27, 2006

An Electric Car That's Fun to Drive?

Slate's Paul Boutin took a ride in the Tesla Roadster and is raving about it:

The Tesla Roadster won't hit the streets until next year. If you see one on the street, then, you should ask for a ride. Even from the passenger seat, the car feels impossibly stronger, faster, and safer than it should be. The trick is Tesla's torque curve—the arc of the motor's strength as it revs from a standstill to top speed. Compared to gasoline-engined cars, the Roadster's torque curve feels—and is—impossible. That's because the Tesla's motor is electric.
The rest is equally appealing to geeks and gear heads. Check it out.

For our previous posts on the Tesla Roadster, click here and here. Thanks to Instapundit for the pointer.

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Another Bogus Argument From the Anti-Nukes

The release of a government report on the future of nuclear energy in Australia has inaugurated a new silly season in public political discourse. In the wake of the report, Queensland Premier Peter Beattie said he feared that the construction of new nuclear power plants might harm Australia's tourism industry.

I think this response struck the correct tone:

But federal Tourism Minister Fran Bailey has urged Australians to consider nuclear power, and says it will help deal with climate change.

Ms Bailey says France has combined a nuclear power industry with a successful tourism sector.

She says it is possible to go nuclear and protect Australia's clean green image.

"France is a country that's 14 times smaller than Australia, it has 59 nuclear generators and yet ... it's the most visited country in the world, attracting more than 76 million tourists a year," she said.

"It's able to do this, of course, with nuclear energy."
UPDATE: More, in a similar vein, from Rod Adams.

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Can the Carolinas Lead the Way in Energy Policy?

That's a question Jim Rogers and Ellen Ruff of Duke Energy are asking in today's edition of the Charlotte Observer.

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New England: A Potential Energy Giant?

Richard Lester of MIT seems to think so.

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E&E TV on the EPA Global Warming Case

On the latest edition of E&E TV, Robert Sussman of Latham and Watkins discusses the upcoming Supreme Court Case that will determine whether or not the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

For a previous post on this topic, click here.

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This Week in Nuclear: Episodes #37 and #38

Here in the U.S., our friend John Wheeler was busy over the Thanksgiving Weekend, posting a pair of podcasts. Episode #37 is a recording of a panel discussion at the 2006 ANS Winter Meeting on new media and the nuclear energy industry. John, Rod Adams and I all took part. Click here for the show notes.

In episode #38, John returned to his traditional format where he deals with the report on nuclear energy from the Australian government, an anti-nuclear blogger and myths about solar and wind energy. Click here for those show notes.

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Supporting Nuclear Energy in New Brunswick

Meet Jack Keir, energy minister for the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Indian Point Seeks License Renewal

Just off the wire from Entergy:

Yonkers, NY-- Calling the Indian Point Energy Center “vitally important to the economic and environmental health of our region,” Mike Kansler, president of Entergy Nuclear Northeast, joined today with former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and noted environmentalist Patrick Moore to announce that the company will seek federal approval to operate the facility for an additional 20-years.

Indian Point’s two units in Buchanan, N.Y., generate more than 2,000 megawatts
(2 million kilowatts) of clean and affordable power, enough to meet between 18 and 38 percent of the lower Hudson Valley’s and New York City’s electricity needs on any given day. Unlike oil, coal or even natural gas fired plants the facility produces none of the greenhouse gases and other pollutants that contribute to global warming.

“Since our purchase of Indian Point five years ago, we have invested hundreds of millions in enhanced security and safety features for these two critically important components of New York State’s energy infrastructure,” Kansler said during a press conference at the Riverfront Library in Yonkers, NY. “We are enormously proud and honored to own and operate them and I know I speak for each and every one of our employees, many of whom live in the region.”

As part of its ongoing effort to constantly improve security, Entergy has worked closely with the team of security experts at Giuliani Partners, the consulting firm headed by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who said Indian Point “has endeavored to continually keep its security at the highest level.”

Giuliani said that his firm came to that conclusion based on their “extensive and ongoing review” of the security measures and training procedures at Indian Point, including the use of highly realistic “force-on-force” drills whereby mock terrorists, played in some instances by former US Navy Seals, have tested the plant’s security defenses.

Meanwhile, Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder and former leader of the international environmental organization Greenpeace, explained how his one time opposition to nuclear power because of the emergence of compelling scientific facts. He now views nuclear energy as an important ally in the effort to halt global warming. Dr. Moore has been joined in recent years by a growing number of environmentalists who have cautioned against a knee jerk opposition to a technology that now provides 20 percent of our nation’s electrical supply.

“There are obviously some who might find it surprising that a co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace would have anything good to say about nuclear power. But climate change is a serious and growing problem today and nuclear energy holds the greatest potential to meet that threat,” Dr. Moore said.

“In downstate New York, which has arguably the worst air quality of any region in the country due to high levels of ozone and particulate pollution, emission-free nuclear power is an absolutely critical part of the equation to cost effectively secure cleaner air. It is well established that this pollution has harmful health effects, especially for children and the elderly, and needs to be addressed now,” said Dr. Moore.

A recent National Academy of Sciences study also warned that the loss of Indian Point’s 2,000 megawatts would result in higher levels of environmentally harmful greenhouse gas emissions because the bulk of the replacement power would necessitate the burning of dirtier fossil fuels.

Although the NAS study said it might be “technically feasible “ to shutdown Indian Point, it concluded that to do so would mean sharply higher electricity bills and exacerbate the volatile price swings that have plagued the natural gas market in recent years.

Among the key supporters present was Jerry Kremer, the retired chairman of the New York Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee who now serves as the Advisory Board Chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (NYArea), a group of more than 100 business organizations, labor unions, and community leaders who strongly favor the continued operation of Indian Point.

“With electricity demand soaring, a dearth of new plants being constructed or planned because of the expiration of the state’s power plant siting law, Indian Point is more important and beneficial to the downstate region than ever,” said Kremer, adding, “This announcement could not have come at a better time.”

While acknowledging that the decision to seek re-licensing for Indian Point would raise “understandable concerns” for some, Kansler nonetheless urged all members of the community --particularly elected officials -- to keep an open mind and avoid a “rush to judgment” while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission evaluates the company’s request; a process that he promised would amount to “a rigorous top to bottom review of Indian Point based on an exhaustive examination of the facts.”
NEI Senior Vice President Marv Fertal issued the following statement:
“Indian Point is a vital source of electricity production for the Hudson Valley and New York City today. It will be even more important for New York’s future economic growth within the region’s greenhouse gas reduction program. Entergy’s success is testimony to its highly skilled, highly trained employees and their dedication to excellence in safety and efficient operations.

“An additional 20 years of reliable electricity production at Indian Point would best serve consumers who benefit from this clean and affordable source of energy. The process for renewing licenses at nuclear power plants is a rigorous, disciplined process that closely examines the safety and environmental record of these facilities.

“In considering applications for renewing nuclear plant licenses, the NRC has a two-year comprehensive and transparent process in which the company must demonstrate that it can operate the plant safely during this additional period. To date, the owners of 47 of the 103 nuclear power reactors have received license renewals, with nine currently in the relicensing process.”
For more on Indian Point and the vital role it plays in providing reliable and affordable electricity to the New York metropolitan area, click here.

More later.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Bad News on Wind Power in Canada

From the National Post:

In May, the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) announced that the province's grid could not safely accommodate more than 900 megawatts of wind-power generation, a target that will be met late next year. Proposals for 3,000 more MW of production have been thrown into indefinite limbo at an estimated cost to producers of $6-billion; meanwhile, the province is already spending $1-billion to strengthen the transmission system so that even the 900-MW cap can be reached. In Ontario, meanwhile, the grid operator warned late last month that 5,000 MW -- about one-fifth of the province's current peak consumption -- is probably the absolute technological limit. (A total of 1,280 MW of wind capacity is already in operation or being built.)

It is starting to look as though wind cannot meet more than a fraction of our energy demand even if other issues with the technology, like esthetics and wildlife impacts, are ignored. The problem, as engineers skeptical of wind power have been yelping for decades, is that power usage and production constantly have to be balanced in an electrical grid. Adding too much unstable, unpredictable power to the system creates a risk of failure and cascading blackouts. In fact, the EU is investigating the possible role of Germany's heavy wind-dependence in causing a Nov. 6 blackout that hit 10 million Europeans.
Now that last part is a surprise. Then again, the overarching problem is something California apparently shares with Canada.

JANUARY 4, 2007 UPDATE: Greetings to readers of GlobalSpec, we're glad you're here.

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Nuclear Energy Industry to Play Role in Historic Trade Mission

U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Frank Levin announced at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday afternoon that he will lead a business development mission to India later this month. The mission, the largest of its kind ever led by the federal government, will include 238 participants representing 186 U.S. companies.

The Nuclear Energy Institute assisted the Department of Commerce and the U.S.-India Business Council with organizing events during the mission and encouraging participation in the mission by members of the U.S. nuclear energy industry. Currently, 18 companies comprise the nuclear energy delegation scheduled to travel to India for this historic summit.

Last week, the Senate approved the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation agreement that will allow the United States to send nuclear fuel and technology to India.

President Bush said “…this partnership will help India meet its energy needs without increasing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”

In a statement released by the State Department, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “Successful implementation of the civil nuclear initiative is a key element of a new strategic partnership between the United States and India. This initiative will help India meet its growing energy needs, enhance cooperation on energy security and nonproliferation, and increase economic investment opportunities.”


Technorati tags: Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Power, Energy, Technology, Politics, Environment, Electricity, India, Department of Commerce, U.S.-India Business Council.

Today's Events at Watts Bar

By now, I'm sure many of you might have read about the declaration of an "unusual event" at TVA's Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant. Click here for the official word from TVA on exactly what happened:

TVA Cancels Notification of Unusual Event at Watts Bar

November 21, 2006

SPRING CITY, Tenn. -- TVA today cancelled a notification of unusual event at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, the least serious of four levels of nuclear plant event classifications, after determining there was no leakage of water from the plant'’s coolant system.

TVA declared the event at 6:15 a.m., when there was an indication of a possible leakage greater than guidelines allow. After an investigation determined there was no water leakage, the unusual event was cancelled at 7:35 a.m. EST.

"There was never any danger to the health and safety of employees or the public,"” said Watts Bar Vice President Mike Skaggs. "“We declared the unusual event and notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission because there was an initial indication of water leakage. After a thorough investigation, we cancelled the event."

Director of Meigs County Schools Robert Greene decided to dismiss classes for the day, saying that some parents were keeping their children out of school after hearing about the Watts Bar event. Greene said that attendance is always low on the day before the Thanksgiving break, so he decided to call off classes.

The declaration of an unusual event at a nuclear plant does not require a relocation or dismissal of school classes, according to emergency procedures. Because of strict federal laws, any event out of the ordinary is reported to federal, state and local authorities.

Watts Bar Unit 1 has been shut down since September for a planned refueling and maintenance outage and was not in operation. The second unit at Watts Bar is unfinished.
UPDATE: Some other important points about what happened today now that I've heard from some of my colleagues at NEI:

An "unusual event" is the lowest of the four emergency classifications established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. (The others are alert, site emergency and general emergency.) Over the course of a year, between 15-20 unusual events are declared across the entire fleet of U.S. nuclear power plants -- and many of those are caused by external events like a hurricane.

The circumstances at Watts Bar did not come anywhere close to the emergency response threshold that would trigger action to be taken by local officials. TVA never instructed nor recommend that local officials close the schools. No radiation was released from the plant. If there had been, the more appropriate emergency response -- depending on circumstances existing at the time --– might have been for people near the plant to shelter in place.

What happened today tracks very closely with an NRC memorandum issued earlier this year that warned that many local emergency response officials are becoming pre-conditioned to expect that plant events will quickly and almost automatically reach a crisis stage:
The staff should coordinate with DHS to develop emergency planning exercise scenarios which would help avoid anticipatory responses associated with preconditioning of participants by incorporating a wide spectrum of releases (ranging from little or no release to a large release) and events, including security-based events. These scenarios should emphasize the expected interfaces and coordination between key decision-makers based on realistic postulated events. The staff should share experiences of preconditioning or "negative training" with DHS.
Something to keep in mind. For more information on emergency preparedness from NRC, click here.

POSTSCRIPT: Links to others who are following the story:

The Word is Truth
Chaos In Motion
Instapundit
Noisy Room

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Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

PG&E Corp. has elected Hyun Park senior vice president and general counsel. Park succeeds Bruce Worthington.

Jack Davis will join Detroit Edison as senior vice president and chief nuclear officer early next year. Davis, currently site vice president at Dominion Energy’s North Anna Power Station, will succeed Doug Gipson, who will retire from executive vice president and chief nuclear officer.

Consumers Energy is restructuring its executive team, the first step in reorganizing the utility. The following changes are effective Dec. 1.
• James Coddington, now vice president of fossil operations, will become vice president of generation operations.
• Robert Fenech, now senior vice president of nuclear, fossil and hydro operations, will assume a transition leadership role, pending his retirement in June 2007.
• Jack Hanson, now site business manager for the Cambpell Generating Complex, will become vice president of generation engineering and services.
• Frank Johnson, now senior vice president of electric transmission and distribution, will become senior vice president of energy operations.
• James Pomaranski, now executive manager of Title 1 projects, will become vice president of generation construction.
• Paul Preketes, now senior vice president of gas operations, will become senior vice president of energy delivery.
• Ronn Rasmussen, now executive director of rates and business support, will become vice president of rates and regulation.

Tim Barfield Jr. resigned as president of The Shaw Group Inc. Nov. 17 to pursue other interests. He had been with Shaw since 1994 and had served as president and chief operating officer since 2003. J.M. Bernhard Jr., chairman and CEO of Shaw, will assume Barfield’s responsibilities as president.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has named Ricardo Fernandes the new resident inspector at the Millstone nuclear power plant in Waterford, Conn. He previously worked in the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response.

Michael Rescoe will resign as chief financial officer and executive vice president of financial services for the Tennessee Valley Authority. Rescoe, who joined TVA in 2003, will become chief financial officer at Travelport Ltd. John Hoskins, TVA’s senior vice president and treasurer, will serve as interim chief financial officer.

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NEI Energy Markets Report (November 13th - 17th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices were mixed throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub increasing $0.15 to $7.33 / MMBtu (see page 4).

Nuclear capacity availability averaged 82 percent last week. Sixteen reactors were offline for refueling outages last week with four finishing and one beginning. Eight reactors were down for maintenance.

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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Nuclear Energy Insight

The latest issue of Nuclear Energy Insight is now available online. In it, you will find an article on Mickey Franczak, a worker at the PPL Susquehanna nuclear plant and his Seeing Eye dog, Archer. There also are reports on Iowa's embrace of clean, safe nuclear power as a “smart answer” to the state's energy needs and an NRC task force that found no health impacts from inadvertent releases of radioactive liquids. Other articles discuss the pairing of synthetic venom and nuclear technology to fight cancer, refueling outages that go beyond routine to boost plant performance, and proposals that seek progress on the Yucca Mountain repository.

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ITER Agreement Signed

Off the wire from DOE:

Representing the United States, Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Under Secretary for Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), today joined counterparts from China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation to sign an agreement to build the international fusion energy project known as ITER.

“The energy that powers the stars is moving closer to becoming a new source of energy for the Earth through the technology represented by ITER,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said. “The ITER Members represent over half of the world’s population. The U.S. is proud to be part of this partnership, and to join in the pursuit of nuclear fusion as a source of clean, safe, renewable and commercially deployable energy for the future.”

Fusion energy is an important component of President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI), given fusion’s potential to become an attractive long-range option for the U.S. clean energy portfolio. In FY 2006, DOE allocated $25 million to ITER and the President, as part of the AEI, has requested $60 million for the project in FY 2007.
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Monday, November 20, 2006

Checking in With "Going Green"

Going Green is a blog by a commodity analyst and trader from Connecticut who is trying to reduce his use of oil and natural gas. Recently, he installed a 2.5 KW photovoltaic array on his house.

For more on the story, and how things are turning out, follow the posts in this order:

What I Wanted from the Solar Panels

Solar Panels: What We Got


How Much Oil Did the Solar Panels Save?

I'm a sucker for folks who have the gumption to experiment on their own. Be sure to stop by and offer some comments on his project. And check back, as he's promising more analysis.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Welcome NucPwr to the Blogosphere.

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Albrecht: America Needs to Discuss New Nuclear Now

Olivia Albrecht, writing in yesterday's edition of the Baltimore Sun on the national security imperatives involved with nuclear energy:

In a rational attempt to guard against the oil cartel, foreign nations, friend and foe, are increasingly looking to nuclear energy as a critical ingredient of their future energy production. They recognize that nuclear energy will stabilize energy prices, reduce pollution and decrease their reliance on foreign sources. If Americans do not engage in this global conversation today, the risks associated with nuclear technology will escalate and the United States will not be in a position to play a leading role in shaping the future of nuclear technology.

If nuclear energy truly is to be a fundamental piece of our diversified energy portfolio, as it should, America must get to work on it - starting today.
Bravo.

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On Al Gore and the Future of Nuclear Energy

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore is in Australia promoting his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Over at the World Nuclear Organization blog, Ian Hore-Lacy has some dissenting thoughts.

For more on the nuclear energy debate in Australia, click here.

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This Week in Nuclear: Episode #36

Our friend John Wheeler has just issued Episode #36 of This Week In Nuclear (MP3, click to download). be sure to check it out. For the show notes, click here.

Click here for a copy of the presentation that John delivered at the 2006 ANS Winter Meeting.

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Chevron Asks About Nuclear Power

Over at WillYouJoinUs.com, Chevron is asking folks what they think about nuclear power. Right now, they're staging a debate between Dr. Patrick Moore and Amory Lovins. Be sure to stop by, and join in the debate, as there is an opportunity to leave your own comments.

Please recall the work that my colleague David Bradish has done concerning Lovins' work with the Rocky Mountain Institute. And don't forget this interesting fact either.

Thanks to Rod Adams for the pointer.

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Another Warning to Europe on Russian Natural Gas

This time, the warning comes from Phillip LeGrain.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Warner, Inhofe to Vie for Senate EPW Post

From the office of Senator John Warner:

Today, Senator John W. Warner, R-Va., announced that he will seek election as Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) in the next Congress, which begins in January.

Senator Warner is the senior Republican on the Committee, having served on the panel since January 1987.

Senator Warner said, “Many in the media have inquired of my intentions for committee positions in the upcoming Congress, now that I have concluded my Chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in keeping with the six-year term limit established by Republican Conference rules. I intend to remain on the Armed Services Committee as the second-ranking Republican on that panel.

“As the senior Republican on the Senate EPW Committee, I intend to submit my name for election as the Ranking Minority member of that panel. I will do so in recognition of established Senate Republican Conference rules and precedents.

“Under these protocols, Republican Committee members first elect their chairman or ranking member, and their choice is then ratified or rejected by the full Republican Conference. These rules and precedents recognize the seniority of membership on the Committee as the principal factor in making such decisions.

“In the coming weeks, I look forward to working with the new membership of the EPW Committee as it makes this decision for submission to the Republican Conference.”
Just a few minutes ago, this came from the office of Senator James Inhofe:
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, today stated the following regarding Senator John Warner’s announcement that he will seek election as Ranking Member of the EPW Committee in the next Congress.

“I have long been a friend of John Warner; however, I think he has misunderstood the rules. I intend to retain my leadership position in the 110th Congress, returning as the Ranking Member of the EPW Committee,” Senator Inhofe said.
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NEI Videos

Before we sign off for the weekend, I wanted to invite our readers to take a look at the selection of videos we've uploaded to Google Video. You'll find lots of great content about the industry and where we're headed. Enjoy the weekend!

Nuclear: Clean Air Energy

Stewart Brand at NEA 2006

Patrick Moore at NEA 2006

Skip Bowman at NEA 2006

Skip Bowman at Town Hall LA

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Senator McCain on Energy Security

Senator John McCain on energy security:

We must appreciate the security implications of every policy debate. When we debate energy legislation, for instance, we must recognize that the oil tankers stretching from the Persian Gulf to our ports also channel petrodollars to oil dictatorships -- dollars used to buy centrifuges to enrich uranium and build ballistic missiles; to finance Hamas, Hezbollah and al Qaeda; and to fund the madrassas that train the next generation of terrorists.

We should lead our allies in an international effort to reduce our mutual dependence on oil, employing the services of the brightest, most creative and accomplished scientists, business leaders, military and government officials, could do as much to defeat the terrorists as any other policy decision we make, and would make American businesses and workers the leaders in developing new technologies. And, obviously, increased and accelerated development of nuclear energy is an important part of the solution.
This isn't the first time Senator McCain has expressed his support for nuclear energy.

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India Nuclear Deal Passes Senate, 85-12

Details from the New York Times.

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A Visit to a University Research Reactor

It was a little more than a year ago that ABC News broadcast a hit job on the university reactor community. For a better idea of what goes on at these reactors, read this feature on the research reactor at Washington State University.

UPDATE: We Support Lee has some other thoughts.

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On Commenting

From time to time, I find it necessary to reject comments. If you'd like to inquire as to why, please feel free to contact me directly by email at epm-at-nei.org.

Thanks for reading NEI Nuclear Notes.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Poland Makes a Smart Move on Nuclear Energy

From the AP:

Poland is considering using nuclear energy to diversify its energy sources and reduce its dependence on Russian fuel, Economy Minister Piotr Wozniak said Friday.

No concrete proposals on the use of nuclear energy have been tabled, but the issue has gained added significance as Poland, largely dependent on Russian oil and gas, is increasingly concerned about Moscow's reliability as a source, Wozniak said.

"I think in a few years, we will have nuclear power, either from abroad, or generated domestically," he told reporters.

Poland has no nuclear plants, and Wozniak said he would seek public approval for any plans to introduce them.
No need to end up like Ukraine did.

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Voting for New Nuclear Build at the Daily Referendum

The U.K. Web site, the Daily Referendum, is holding an online vote on the future of nuclear energy:

A legally binding target to reduce long-term carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by the year 2050 has been set. The bill will establish a "Carbon Committee" to make sure targets are met. However the bill makes no reference to annual CO2 reductions targets. Opposition parties and environmentalists deem CO2 reductions necessary to tackle global warming.

The Queen told MPs and peers: "My government will publish a bill on climate change as part of its policy to protect the environment, consistent with the need to secure long-term energy supplies."

David Cameron said he was delighted to hear the proposals in the Queen's Speech. "I hope it will be a proper bill and not a watered down bill. Government has got to give a lead by setting a proper framework." That must mean an independent body with annual targets and an annual report from government on its progress."

The prime minister responded by pointing out that the UK was set to lose about 15% of its electricity generation capacity as existing nuclear power plants reached the end of their operating lives.

"We need to put nuclear power back on the agenda and at least replace the nuclear energy we will lose. Without it, we will not be able to meet either our objectives on climate change or our objectives on energy security."

Q. Should we invest in new nuclear power stations?
Click here to vote right now. For more on Tony Blair's latest endorsement of nuclear energy, click here.

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Using Nuclear Energy in the Alberta Oil Sands Sparks Debate

Earlier this week, we told you how a candidate to become leader of Canada's federal Liberals had expressed his openess to using nuclear energy to extract petroleum from Alberta's oil sands. Click here to see just what sort of tumult is occurring as a result.

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Thorium Energy Forum Comes to Washington

From Tech News Watch:

DBI, a California-based aerospace company involved in the research and development of thorium-fueled reactors, will host a forum on Thursday, November 30, from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on thorium as an abundant source of clean energy to meet the world’s growing energy needs.

The forum will address the role of thorium in three key areas: the environmental benefits of thorium; the safety and national security aspects of thorium; and the economic benefits and commercial applications of thorium. A detailed agenda and list of speakers can be found below.

WHO:
DBI, a California-based company established in 1965 and involved in the research and development of thorium-fueled reactors joined by Thorium Power, Ltd., of Virginia

WHAT:
Forum on thorium as an alternative source of clean nuclear energy

WHERE:
National Press Club
529 14th Street, N.W.
Holeman Lounge (13th Floor)

WHEN:
Thursday, November 30, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Members of the media who would like to attend the forum or arrange interviews with the speakers in advance of the forum may contact Robin Buckley at 703.533.9805. or robin@buckleykaldenbach.com for more information.

Agenda
Clean Nuclear Energy: Thorium 2006

10:00 a.m. Welcome and Introduction (Moderator Dr. James Olds)

10:15 a.m. Keynote: Global Energy Overview (Dr. Sterling Bailey)
Dr. Bailey will offer a synopsis of the current global energy situation and explore the limitations and disadvantages of current energy sources. Dr. Bailey will discuss why thorium is a feasible alternative to current energy sources due to its abundance, environmental benefits, and national security advantages.

11:00 a.m. Environmental Benefits of Thorium (Dr. Jeffery Latkowski)
While current nuclear technology does not affect the global climate, the environmental costs of the uranium oxide fuel have been a significant public concern. This session will provide an overview of the environmental benefits of thorium vis-à-vis current nuclear technology.

11:45 a.m. Lunch

12:30 p.m. Thorium’s Role in Safety and National Security (Dr. Andrey Mushakov, Dr. Kenneth Ricci)
One of the critical advantages of thorium over uranium is the reduction in radioactive waste available for nuclear proliferation. A 2000 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency outlined the benefits thorium offers in contrast to uranium. This session will provide an overview of thorium and nuclear waste, and will spotlight how two companies are addressing this issue in both the U.S. and Russia.

2:00 p.m. Economic Benefits and Commercial Applications of Thorium (H.A. D’Auvergne)
For decades scientists have recognized thorium’s usefulness as a fuel, but until recently the technology and economics to make a transition to thorium as a viable energy alternative did not exist. Today, companies such as DBI and Thorium Power Ltd. are leading the way in developing commercial applications for thorium as a viable energy alternative. This session will explore these new technologies and their commercial applications.

2:30 p.m. Wrap-up and Question/Answer
My go to guy on Thorium will always be Kirk Sorensen.

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Tracking the Nuclear Energy Debate in the U.K.

Over at Beyond the Spin Dorothy Seed of BNFL is taking a look at the evolution of the debate over nuclear energy in the U.K.:

We were seeing headlines such as “Dawning of the new nuclear age” and “Prepare for the nuclear option”. Negative memories from the 1980s were receding into history and, for the first time in a long time, nuclear was being considered as “normal”.

This wasn’t down to advertising campaigns or marketing activities. It revolved around making the facts accessible, being responsive and open to debate. We focused on moving away from issues in isolation, took account of people’s increasing demand for information and concentrated on real, pragmatic responses.

[...]

[T]he very fact that nuclear energy has been under real consideration in the same way as any other energy option is evidence that the nuclear debate has at long last grown up. Nuclear energy is in the big picture and people have engaged in that. Whilst there may still be underlying concerns and uncertainties, the public have become more accepting of nuclear energy as one of the elements in our future energy mix. We have come a long way since the 1980s.
Indeed, we certainly have.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Pew Center on the Prospects for Climate Change Legislation

Earlier today, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change issued a report on the prospects for the passage of climate change legislation in the next Congress:

The 2006 elections have significantly improved the prospects of rational climate policy in the United States. While it is not yet clear how many of the newly-elected senators and representatives are prepared to vote for mandatory climate change measures, the new Democratic congressional majority puts control of the agenda in the hands of policymakers who, to a large extent, favor climate action

[...]

The wild card is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). McCain, in partnership with Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), wrote the first GHG cap-and-trade bill in 2003 and forced the Senate votes on it in 2003 and 2005. McCain’s commitment to climate action has been among the most important factors in advancing the issue in Congress to date. Now McCain is considered a front runner for presidency in 2008. If he becomes the Republican nominee in 2008 and continues to force votes on his climate change bill, anything is possible: Moderates from both parties might have an easier time voting for a climate change bill if its author is the head of the Republican Party.

All told, given:

* the US public's growing concern over climate change;
* the climate measures of California and the northeastern states;
* the growing sense in US industry that climate action is inevitable;
* the past several years of momentum in Congress;
* the recent election results; and
* Sen. McCain's chances of being the Republican nominee for President in 2008

we are optimistic that enactment of mandatory US climate action is plausible by 2008 and likely by 2010.
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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

NEI Energy Markets Report (November 6th - 10th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices were mixed throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices fell at the Henry Hub decreasing $0.01 to $7.18 / MMBtu (see page 4).

From 2006-2010, the current capacities in the pipeline coming into operation are 49,776 MW for natural gas; 37,153 MW for coal; and 23,470 MW for wind (see page 8).

Uranium prices rose to $62.50 / lb U3O8 according to UxC and at $61 / lb U3O8 according to TradeTech (see page 7).

For the podcast click here. For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage. Technorati tags: , , , , , ,

Progress Energy Seeks License Extension for Shearon Harris

Progress Energy has announced it submitted a license renewal application for the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant. Good luck to the folks at Progress Energy and congratulations to the team that put together the application on reaching an important milestone.

Predictably, the shrill anti-nuke activist group NC WARN will be holding a press conference at the main gate of the plant at 5:00 p.m. U.S. ET today to express their displeasure over those plans. For more background on their activities, visit We Support Lee.

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