Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Charles Osgood on the "Nuclear Gold Rush"

With utilities rushing to secure sites to build new nuclear power plants, Charles Osgood of the CBS Radio Network has taken notice:

Right now the 65 nuclear power plants in the United States are supplying 20% of the electric POWER used in this country. But even though DEMAND for power has been increasing every year we haven't had a new nuclear reactor licensed since 1979. But stand back because a new generation of pants is on the horizon and nuclear GOLD RUSH may be already under way.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Congress is dangling more than 8 billion dollars in subsidies plus LOAN guarantees for the first new nuclear electric power plants to be built here in nearly three decades. And the rush is on among potential owners to identify and lock down the best possible nuclear sites. Environmentalists still worry about what can be done with radioactive nuclear WASTE but right now for them, the most pressing concern is global warming and the effects of fossil fuel burning. 50% of the electric power needs of the country are produced by burning coal. The emissions from gasoline burning CARS are another big factor but if electric hybrids are part of the solution that extra electric POWER is going to have to come from somewhere. Power companies' cancelled plans to build 96 new nuclear plants after the accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and at Chernobyl in the Soviet Union and as President Bush said in his State of the Union Address last week.

"We must continue changing the way America generates electric power - by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy and clean, safe nuclear power." said President George Bush.

The Commission now expects at least thirty new reactors to be built. And it seems as if the race is on. The Osgood File. Charles Osgood on the CBS Radio Network.
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Wally said...

Charles Osgood is playing fast and loose with the facts. The 1973 oil embago kicked the United States economy in the goolies and GDP and demand for new electricity collapsed. Many of the "96" nuclear power plants that Charles Osgood says were cancelled after 1979, and by inference, after Three Mile Island, were actually cancelled prior to 1979. These plants were cancelled because the plants coming on line produced more than enough electricity to meet current demand. I believe that the last nuclear power plant was actually ordered around 1976, but I defer to anyone who can give a more precise answer.

Most journalists seem to think that the causal factor of the collapse of the Nuclear Power industry was TMI, but they don't do their homework. If you can remember the state of finance in the late 1979's, you might think that tight money, oversupply, and rampant inflation were the real culprits.

David Bradish said...

The last order was in 1978 but the last completed order was in 1973. TMI just made plants under construction at that time slow down and become much more expensive due to regulatory delays.