Wednesday, January 31, 2007

NEI Energy Markets Report (January 22nd - 26th, 2007)

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 $0.67 to $6.94 / MMBtu (see page 4). Crude oil prices decreased to $51.51 / barrel (see page 5).

Three reactors shut down for maintenance last week. Palo Verde 3 was offline for battery tests, Sequoyah 2 tripped but was back up and running the next day, and Arkansas Nuclear 2 shut down due to a dropped control element assembly.

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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Nuclear Power Plant Contributions to State and Local Economies

NEI has written about 10 economic benefits studies so far on 22 U.S. nuclear plants which discuss the contributions the plants make to the state and local economies. After conducting studies on about a third of the U.S. plants, we had enough data to create a general fact sheet on the economic benefits of a nuclear plant. Here are some highlights:

Operation of a U.S. nuclear plant generates 400 to 700 permanent jobs. These jobs pay 36 percent more than average salaries in the local area.

The 400 to 700 permanent jobs at a nuclear plant create an equivalent number of additional jobs in the local area to provide the goods and services necessary to support the nuclear plant work force (e.g., grocery stores, dry cleaners, car dealers, etc.).

Building a new nuclear plant would result in the creation of 1,400 to 1,800 jobs during construction, on average (with peak employment as high as 2,400 jobs at certain times).

[...]

Analysis shows that every dollar spent by the average nuclear plant results in the creation of $1.07 in the local community.

The average nuclear plant generates total state and local tax revenue of almost $20 million each year. These tax dollars benefit schools, roads, and other state and local infrastructure.

The average nuclear plant generates federal tax payments of roughly $75 million each year.

[...]

Construction of a new nuclear power plant will provide a substantial boost to suppliers of commodities like concrete and steel and manufacturers of hundreds of components. For example, a single new nuclear power plant requires approximately:

1. 400,000 cubic yards of concrete—as much concrete as was used to build the Pentagon

2. 66,000 tons of steel—the same amount used to build the Empire State Building

3. 44 miles of piping

4. 300 miles of electric wiring—enough to stretch from Boston to Philadelphia

5. 130,000 electrical components.

Keep these links in your notes so if someone asks you what are the benefits of a nuclear plant, you can answer.

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The Economic Impact of a Nuclear Power Plant

An Australian blog, Falkayn's Nest, is asking hard questions after reading a study authored by anti-nukes that claims local opposition is bound to stifle any and all development of new nuclear in Australia:

I wonder how long it takes before some enterprising local council works out that the impact on jobs, industry and local living conditions of a nuclear power plant far outweighs the potential and theoretical downsides?
As it turns out, his assumptions are on target. In a study that appeared recently in the International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology, Roger Bezdek and Robert Wendling found that in seven regions with nuclear facilities...
[H]ousing and real estate values have benefited from the operation of nuclear facilities: total property values, assessed valuations and median housing prices have often increased at rates above the national and state averages. In each local area, housing prices were several times higher than prior to the opening of the nuclear facilities.
NEI has performed a number of economic benefits studies for its member companies. To read them, click here.

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Fighting for Nuclear Energy in Vermont

Patrick Moore is back in Vermont, fighting local anti-nukes over the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. From the Barrie-Montpelier Times Argus:

"Nuclear energy has key environmental benefits," Moore said. With as many as 30 new nuclear plants in the planning stages the United States is joining the rest of the world in a "nuclear renaissance," Moore said.

Some of the lawmakers were not impressed.

Rep. Sarah Edwards, P-Brattleboro, said that Moore only told part of the story, particularly when he said nuclear power was one of the cheapest sources of electricity.

"The federal government has been subsidizing this industry from the very beginning," she said. "My guess is if you look at the history of subsidies on that you will find a huge difference."

[...]

Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier, said that if renewable energy sources like solar and wind power got the same subsidies they would be as cost-effective as nuclear electricity.

"If only it could be as simple and as safe and as cheap as he is pretending it is the world would be a wonderful place," Klein said. "The facts tell a different story."
Actually, as both David Bradish and N. Nadir have determined, the story is quite a lot different than anti-nukes would have you believe. But then again, the real strategy isn't to tell the truth, it's simply to tell the same lies over and over again that you can't determined what the truth is anymore.

For more, visit WCAX-TV. For a previous post on another Moore trip to Vermont, click here.

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Blogger: President Needs to Give More Focus to Nuclear Energy

Blogger Pejman Yousefzadeh writing in The American:

President Bush’s State of the Union address weighed in heavily on the issue of finding alternative sources of energy for the United States. Developing alternative energy sources is an important policy goal and the U.S. would benefit from energy diversification. But while the President talked a fair amount about biodiesel fuels, ethanol production and updating fuel economy standards—in addition to expanding domestic oil production—he only mentioned nuclear power as an alternative energy source in a single throwaway line.

This is too bad.
That sounds a lot like what Congressman David Hobson said last week.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

British Energy to Seek Proposals for New Nuclear Build

From Bloomberg:

British Energy Group Plc, the country's largest power generator, plans to solicit proposals for the construction of new nuclear power plants in the U.K.

The move may signal the start of a race among other power producers, including E.ON AG, RWE AG and Electricite de France SA, to replace aged power stations with more efficient ones that emit less carbon dioxide. Britain's government is preparing an energy bill that it hopes will help secure supplies and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

``British Energy invites proposals for new nuclear generation,'' a headline on the homepage of British Energy's Web site said at about 8 a.m. London time today. The headline provided a link to the main news page of the Web site. The link didn't connect to additional information on the subject and it was subsequently removed from the site.
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Patrick Moore Statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

From the transcript (MS Word):

The climate change debate has made one thing abundantly clear: Global warming is an environmental reality that requires action. Our nation must step up to the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and I commend the Committee and Chairman Boxer in particular for holding today’s hearing.

As the co-founder and former head of Greenpeace, and an environmentalist, I feel compelled to speak to the clean air benefits of nuclear energy and the need for our nation to embrace nuclear energy as a key component of any greenhouse gas mitigation strategy.

Nuclear energy plays the single-largest role in the U.S. electric industry’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions reductions. According to the newly released annual report to the U.S. Department of Energy from Power Partners—a voluntary partnership between DOE and the electric power industry—nuclear energy accounted for 54 percent of greenhouse gas reductions reported, the equivalent of taking 100 million automobiles off the road.

Furthermore, nuclear energy has the smallest environmental impact of any clean-air electricity source. Nuclear power produces no controlled air pollutants during daily operations. According to the University of Wisconsin, the life-cycle emissions of nuclear energy are lower than coal, natural gas, hydropower, biomass, and solar. The only electricity sources with lower life-cycle emissions are wind and geothermal.

[...]

In its October 2006 report, A Progressive Energy Platform, the Progressive Policy Institute urges the nation to “Expand nuclear power…It produces no greenhouse gas emissions, so it can help clean up the air and combat climate change. And new plant designs promise to produce power more safely and economically than first-generation facilities.”

I agree with PPI. Nuclear energy is clean, safe, affordable and reliable—and needs to be part of the climate change solution. This is something that all Americans should embrace on a bipartisan basis.

I encourage this Committee and the Congress to take the appropriate steps to ensure the expansion of nuclear power so we can truly achieve the emission savings that our nation and the world so desperately need.
For more on the PPI report that Moore refers to, click here.

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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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South Africa Approves Production of PBMR Fuel

That's the word from today's edition of the Cape Argus.

For more PBMR news, visit the Pebble Bed Reactor blog.

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How to Replace One Cubic Mile of Oil

From IEEE Spectrum:

The fact that energy sources and uses are stated in so many different kinds of terms is increasingly seen as not merely an annoyance but as a serious impediment to public understanding of critical choices. In an effort to get matters onto a more intuitive, citizen-friendly basis, a number of experts have hit on the convenient fact that the world at present consumes about 1 cubic mile of oil (CMO) per year. Among these experts are Ed Kinderman and Hewitt Crane at SRI International, in Menlo Park, Calif., who are preparing a book for Oxford University Press that will be built around the idea of normalizing all energy units to 1 CMO (4.17 cubic kilometers).

One dramatic way of portraying their results is to ask how many alternative energy sources—say coal-fired plants or solar panels— it would take to produce the equivalent of one CMO.
And here's what they came up with:


Thanks to Colby Cosh for the pointer.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

NRC Issues Final Rule on DBT for Nuclear Power Plant Security

From NRC:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission today approved a final rule that enhances its security regulations governing the design basis threat (DBT) – the latest in a series of actions addressing security at nuclear power plants. This rule, the first of several planned rules related to security, imposes generic security requirements similar to those previously imposed on operating nuclear power plants by the Commission’s April 29, 2003, DBT Orders. The new rule modifies and enhances the DBT based on experience and insights gained by the Commission during implementation of the Orders, and extensive consideration of the 12 factors specified in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

[...]

Today’s final rule describes the design basis threat. This rule provides a general description of the attributes of potential adversaries who might attempt to commit radiological sabotage or theft or diversion against which licensees’ physical protection systems must defend with high assurance. Although the guidance documents related to this rule are protected from public disclosure for security reasons, the final rule provides a general description of the modes of attack, weaponry and capabilities and intentions of the adversary. For example, the final rule contains provisions related to multiple, coordinated groups of attackers, suicide attacks and cyber threats.
For more information on this ruling from NRC, click here for an FAQ. Again, please check the section on Safety and Security that we maintain on NEI's Web site for more background information.

Over the next 24 hours, we're going to see a lot of reporting concerning protection against an attack by large aircraft. Again, from the NRC statement:
The rule does not incorporate the “beamhenge” concept proposed in 2004 in a Petition for Rulemaking by the Committee to Bridge the Gap and does not require protection against a deliberate hit by a large aircraft. The NRC has already required its licensees to take steps to mitigate the effects of large fires and explosions from any type of initiating event. The active protection against airborne threats is addressed by other federal organizations, including the military. In addition, the NRC remains an active partner with other federal and state/local authorities in constant surveillance of the threat environment and will adjust regulatory actions or requirements if necessary.
Back in 2002, EPRI issued a study that found that aircraft impact would not breach structures housing reactor fuel. For a copy of the study, click here. For a previous post on this topic from November 206, click here.

UPDATE: Reports from CBS News and The Blotter. Please feel free to stop by and leave comments. As always, please be respectful. One point that's getting lost in the fine print: The Commission approved the plan by a vote of 5-0.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit White Nuclear Snowflake.

UPDATE: Be sure to visit ST Crowley too.

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Kansas House Committee Passes Nuclear Energy Incentives Legislation

Legislation in Kansas that includes incentives to build an additional nuclear reactor on the grounds of the Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant, was approved by the Kansas House Energy and Utilities Committee.

From the Lawrence Journal-World:

“Whether you like it or not, nuclear energy has to be part of our discussions,” said state Rep. Annie Kuether, of Topeka, the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Utilities Committee.

State Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, supported the legislation, saying, “nuclear energy is the cleanest and most efficient form of fuel we have.”
The legislation now goes to the full House for a vote.

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NY Times Reporter Misses The Nuclear Energy Bus In Davos

Here's an article from yesterday's New York Times that caught my eye. It's by Mark Landler and he's reporting from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos:

FEW subjects seem less suited to the intoxicating air of the World Economic Forum’s annual conference than nuclear energy. Aging, expensive, unpopular, and still vulnerable to catastrophic accidents, it is the antithesis of the kinds of cutting-edge solutions that beguile the wealthy and well intentioned, who gather each winter in this Alpine ski resort.
In the balance of the piece, Landler plays a lot of catch up concerning the resurgence of interest in nuclear energy in Europe, though he falls prey to the common canard used by anti-nukes that the industry and its supporters are touting nuclear energy as the "one" solution to global climate change.

But what really caught my attention was the absence of one name: Tony Blair. If there is anyone in Europe who has been sounding the alarm on climate change while touting nuclear energy as part of the solution to keep the lights on in a carbon constrained world, it's been the U.K. Prime Minister.

Funny enough, Blair was at the WEF on Friday where he had this to say:
The U.K. needs nuclear power to meet its twin challenges of securing energy supplies and reducing emissions of gases that cause global warming, Prime Minister Tony Blair said.

``I don't think we will tackle climate change'' and energy security ``effectively unless nuclear power is part of it,'' Blair said in Davos, Switzerland, where he's attending the World Economic Forum.

The U.K. government is likely to approve a new generation of nuclear power stations in coming months as the country attempts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and secure alternatives to fading North Sea oil and gas reserves.

``We are going to move from self sufficiency in gas to importing 90 percent of it,'' he said. Faced with that reality and the need to reduce carbon emissions he said, ``how are we going to do that without nuclear being part of this mix?''

Blair said a new ``climate change bill in the next few weeks'' will allow ``individuals and businesses to help'' reduce emissions.
I wonder why those comments didn't find their way into Landler's story? Feel free to discuss it at your leisure.

UPDATE: The Knight Science Journalism Tracker also picked up the story.

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The DailyKos on Energy and Subsidies

A couple of weeks back, my colleague David Bradish published a post that cleared away a lot of the smoke that anti-nukes blow to conceal the truth about energy sources and government subsidies. Late on Friday, I came across a post at the DailyKos by diarist NNadir that merits further examination:

World-wide nuclear energy in 2004 produced about 2,620 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, meaning that the "subsidy" amounted to about 0.6 cents per kilowatt-hour on average, a trivial portion of what the average person sees on his or her electric bill.

[...]

For comparison purposes - since it's likely to come up - solar electricity, which is also subsidized, produces power at 21.4 cents per kilowatt-hour according to the solar promotion site, Solar Buzz. In some places, like where I live, you can get the government to pay - to subsidize - about half of that cost, assuming you're wealthy enough to afford the other half. In spite of this wonderful state of affairs, solar electricity is still trivial. All the subsidies in the world have not made it produce even 0.1% of the world's electrical energy.
Nadir's conclusion: If anything, nuclear energy's real world performance would seem to make the case for additional subsidies.

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UPI Poll: Solid Majority Of Americans Believe Nuclear Power Is Safe

From UPI:

A solid majority of U.S. respondents to a UPI-Zogby International poll said they believe nuclear power is safe.

Some 27.5 percent of participants in the poll strongly agreed with the statement that "nuclear power is safe." Another 35.2 percent said they somewhat agree with the statement. A total of 30.3 percent gave responses of either "somewhat disagree (18.5 percent) or "strongly disagree" (11.8 percent).

Data collected by Zogby through an interactive poll Jan. 16-18 of some 6,909 U.S. residents indicated conservatives were more likely to trust the safety of nuclear power than liberals, with 55.6 percent of self-described very conservative respondents strongly agreeing and 30.2 percent of progressives strongly disagreeing.
Poll results like this are a tribute to the men and women who work hard everyday to make sure that our nation's nuclear power plants are operated in a safe manner -- workers like the members of IBEW Local 3 Unit 8 at Vermont Yankee. Moreover, they track with the poll results that NEI has been seeing for some time now.

For more source material on safety and security from NEI, click here. For NEI's latest public opinion research, click here.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Vermont Yankee Gets IBEW Vote of Confidence

In Vermont, anti-nukes working to shut down Vermont Yankee probably don't face any tougher opponent than the union brothers of IBEW Local 300 Unit 8.

From the Vermont Guardian:

"I believe that the continued safe operation and maintenance of the plant by the IBEW workers is one of the items the NRC looks at," said Larry Smith of IBEW Local 300 Unit 8, which represents Vermont Yankee electrical workers. "While plant employees and families are supporters, there are also local businesses as well as other individuals that support the continued operation of Vermont Yankee. The groups that want to shut VY down tend to be more vocal than supporters and get more press coverage. But no matter what the outcome of the [upcoming] hearings or what the decision of the NRC will be, the members of the IBEW Local 300 unit 8 will continue to operate and maintain the plant in a safe and competent manner."
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MSNBC Story on the Economics of New Nuclear Build

After four days of looking at the nuclear energy industry through the prism of Washington lobbying, MSNBC's last piece of reporting on the nuclear energy industry turns to the challenge of financing new nuclear build. It's easily the best piece in the entire series:

The economics of building nuclear power plants began to short-circuit in the 1970s, after a building boom that lasted more than a decade. Part of the problem was the widespread use of so-called “cost-plus” contracts, in which the companies building plants were not held to a fixed price, according to Dan Keuter, head of nuclear business development for Entergy, which has applied for a site permit to build a new nuclear unit.

“You had multiple subcontractors working on cost plus basis,” he said. “So they were actually motivated not to get it done early. ... And (they) were definitely not motivated to do it within budget because the more they spent, the more they got.

Most plants were designed one at a time from the ground up; in some cases, engineers and designers were still working on plans as construction was under way, said Keuter. Changing regulatory requirements created further delays.

As a result, construction schedules began to double and triple, costs skyrocketed and projects in the pipeline were canceled. For those projects that continued, rising carrying costs as interest rates hit double-digits added to already huge cost overruns. By the end of the decade, the nuclear power industry was buried under a pile of debt.
All very true, though MSNBC's John Schoen does a very good job of updating just what's changed since the last major build cycle in the U.S. For more hard data on finanical issues in the nuclear energy industry, visit NEI's Financial Center on our Web site. And again, I suggest anyone wanting to examine the challenges facing the industry to review the presentation our CEO Skip Bowman gave to the National Academy of Engineering last Fall.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

An Environmentalist Wants to Talk Nuclear Energy

After reading MSNBC's five-part hit job on the global nuclear industry, Michael at Groovy Green asked this of nuclear energy supporters:

I still have my doubts about any technology that creates such massive waste and could itself contribute to weapons or disaster. Advocates of the industry can go on for days about how great this or that is, but the end result is nothing surrounding the word ‘nuclear’ is 100% safe. Just like coal burning plants, it’s still a dirty technology. OK, Nuke pros/cons, let’s talk about this.
Please take him up on his offer. As always, be respectful.

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NEI Energy Markets Report (January 15th - 19th)

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

Electricity prices increased throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub increasing $0.27 to $6.27 / MMBtu (see page 4).

Uranium prices remained at $72 / lb U3O8 for the sixth week in a row (see page 7). Crude oil prices decreased to $54.11 / barrel (see page 5). NOx allowances rose to $866.70 / ton and SO2 allowances rose to $463.30 / ton.

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

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Update on MSNBC Nuclear Poll

Over at MSNBC, Mike Stuckey's week-long anti-nuclear energy jihad continues, but it doesn't seem to be having the effect he intended on his readers. Remember the poll question they posted earlier this week: "Does the U.S. nuclear power industry's safety record of the past 25 years warrant a "renaissance" of new reactors?"

Earlier in the week, when a little less than 800 votes had been tallied, the split was 88-12 in favor. Now, just three days later and with almost 2,800 votes counted, the pro-nuclear side is ahead 87-13.

I know these polls aren't scientific, but honest participation has an effect. Please keep it up.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fighting Nuclear FUD From Davos

Over at the World Economic Forum, Lester Brown is taking his best cheap shot at nuclear energy.

Unfortunately for him, my colleague David Bradish showed up in the comments string.

Be sure to stop by and add your two cents. As always, please be respectful.

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Hobson on SOU: Where's The Nuclear?

Today's Columbus Dispatch includes reactions to last night's State of the Union speech from a number of Ohio politicians including Congressman David Hobson. He had this to say about the President's energy policy:

"We were told that the administration would present an energy plan to 'knock your socks off." I didn't hear anything this evening that I wouldn't support in a general sense, such as improving fuel efficiency and promoting the use of alternative energy sources such as ethanol, clean coal and renewable fuels. But... the administration should have also emphasized the use of other energy sources like nuclear power because it's clean-burning and reliable."
For NEI's official statement in response to last night's speech, click here for a statement from our CEO, Skip Bowman.

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NEI Nuclear Performance Report (December 2006)

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

For December 2006, NEI estimates the average net capacity factor reached 94.3 percent. This figure is 2.1 percentage points lower than the same one month period in 2005. NEI estimates monthly nuclear generation at 70.2 billion kilowatt-hours for December 2006 compared to 71.7 bkWh for the same one month period in 2005.

For 2006, NEI estimates year to date nuclear generation at 787.6 billion kilowatt-hours compared to 782.0 bkWh in 2005 (0.7 percent increase).

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

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Terra Rosa:

The bottom line is this: renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and biofuels will be a huge part of our energy future. But it will take time to develop these technologies. Nuclear energy technology is ready today, and is our best available alternative to traditional fossil fuels. A market-based carbon cap will have many benefits in terms of alternative energy development, but perhaps the most immediate, and most important, will be a renewed focus on nuclear power. By embracing nuclear power, we can prove that reducing carbon emissions and achieving energy security are not mutually exclusive goals.
Thanks to The Evangelical Ecologist for the pointer.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

AAEA at White House SOU Pre-Briefing

Norris McDonald of the African-American Environmentalist Association attended a briefing at the White House this morning on tonight's State of the Union address. Click here for details.

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For Some, Nuclear Power Is An Inconvenient Truth

Here's Laurie Goodstein from the Toronto Sun:

Let’s assume that Al Gore and, in our country, Stephane Dion, Jack Layton, and (very recently) Stephen Harper and John Baird are right.

Let’s accept that man-made greenhouse gases caused by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, have brought us to the brink of cataclysmic climate change that threatens humanity.

So, if that’s true, why aren’t our politicians advocating for the only energy source that can stave off disaster without plunging us into a new Dark Age — nuclear power? It is the only practical source of energy we have that produces no greenhouse gases.

Indeed, any politician who says he or she is concerned about global warming, who is not advocating for nuclear power, does not really believe our world faces an imminent threat, no matter what they say publicly.

Rather, they are playing a cynical political game of appearing to be concerned in the hopes of making short-term electoral gains. Why?
Indeed, why? James Lovelock also makes an appearance.

Thanks to Tim at The Black Kettle for the pointer.

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One Environmentalist Confronts the Nuclear Question

After reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle where one Nobel Prize winner endorsed a wide-scale expansion of nuclear energy as a way to curb greenhouse gas emissions while still providing affordable power, one of the contributors to Groovy Green wrote the following:

The one befuddling thing was the belief that nuclear energy will be our saving grace in the end. Is this true? I am not as knowledgeable on nuclear energy as I am on solar or wind power. Professor Smoot does make a good point when he says nuclear technology is the one thing we can produce at scale that we need, but is the ”manufacturing” of this form of energy worse than the energy itself? Will the end result of nuclear energy justify the means in which it is made?
My suggestion: Take a look at a presentation that NEI CEO Skip Bowman gave to the National Academy of Engineering late last year (PPT). It's an honest assesment of why we're seeing utilities think about building new nuclear plants that also includes answers to many of the standard questions the industry gets about safety, security, waste and economics. Anyone who is interested in the issue should take time to read it.

UPDATE: More from We Support Lee.

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Japan and China May Pursue Nuclear Energy Cooperation

Form Kyodo News:

Japan and China are considering compiling an action plan by the end of this year for full-fledged cooperation on nuclear power for civilian purposes, including preventing technology from being diverted to third parties, government sources in Tokyo said Monday.

The plan is aimed at paving the way for Japanese companies involved in nuclear power to do business in China, where reactor construction is expected to increase to meet mounting energy demands, the sources said.

It comes as a followup to an agreement in October between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Hu Jintao that the two countries enhance cooperation in energy.
With Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse having recently won a contract to build four AP-1000 reactors in China, such a deal seems to make a lot of sense.

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MIT Study: Geothermal Could Provide 10% of Energy by 2050

Yesterday, MIT released a study that said that America could derive 10% of its energy production from geothermal sources by 2050 -- and it's generated quite a debate over energy issues at Slashdot.

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New Nuclear In Kansas?

From the AP:

Although no one currently is planning to build a nuclear plant in Kansas, state lawmakers will consider making that possibility more attractive as part of a package of energy-related issues.

The bill, which is scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday, would provide incentives for building a nuclear power plant in the state.

The bill "is a recognition that as we look at energy independence for the state, nuclear, renewable energy and coal all have a place," said State Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, a member of the House Energy and Utilities Committee.

The legislation would exempt any new nuclear generation or new construction at the Wolf Creek nuclear plant near Burlington from property taxes.

Sloan said the proposed bill simply would lay the groundwork for expanding nuclear power, if it ever becomes economically and politically feasible.
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Monday, January 22, 2007

Deutsche Bank Report: “Shutting down nuclear is inconceivable as a serious policy.”

From the Financial Times:

Germany’s plan to phase out nuclear energy will make it miss its CO2 emission targets, raise electricity prices, cause more blackouts and "dramatically" increase Berlin’s dependence on imported Russian gas, an independent study has warned.

The 60-page paper by Deutsche Bank is a serious indictment of chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision, despite personal misgivings, to stick to the phase-out deal agreed by the previous government in 2000.

[...]

The paper also highlights the quandary facing the chancellor, who would have to choose between the three key goals of Germany’s energy policy – to reduce emissions, to cut reliance on Russian fossil fuel, and to keep energy prices in check.

“Shutting down nuclear is inconceivable as a serious policy,” Mark Lewis, energy analyst and author of the report, said. “It will mean missing your carbon emission targets and lead to gas-powered plants replacing today’s nuclear plants.”
Gotta love the "stunning indictment" language -- as if Merkel is in a position to fracture her coalition government with her socialist partners over the issue. Instead, what the FT story fails to recognize is how Merkel seems to be engaging in a perfect "rope-a-dope" strategy, letting her enemies exhaust themselves as the economic and environmental evidence supporting the nuclear case continues to pile up.

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MSNBC Series on the Nuclear Renaissance

This week at MSNBC, the online news service is running a five-part series on the renaissance of nuclear energy in the U.S. To say the least, I don't have many high hopes for it, as the author is Mike Stuckey, the same reporter who penned an anti-NEI hit job a number of months ago.

Still, the series is running and its important for our readers to know about it, even if it spends most of its length today talking over the politics of the issue. That's a shame, as there are serious reasons why nuclear energy is getting a second look, including the economic, energy security and national security implications of an industry expansion.

Stuckey is sure to go after the old saw about subsidies, but as David Bradish pointed out a few weeks ago, there's less there than anti-nukes would have you think. At a minimum, Stuckey's report should have mentioned that EPACT 2005 included subsidies and incentives for all sorts of sources of generation, including renewables. But you'd never know that from reading his piece.

Some folks are already picking up on the holes in the story, like the blog, Chaos-In-Motion:

Greenpeace, the foe of anything human is not who I would have gone to for a comment. What alternative technology which is capable of running our industries, does Greenpeace support? I'm betting none. Solar and wind won't do it, and I'm betting they'd stand against any scaling of that technology to the level that would support the present economy.

They of course have the usual litany of statements about Chernobyl and TMI. No real discussion of scope or similarity of the plants or the problems and the related solutions. Just that the industry has improved its safety procedures. Then for some reason the article goes into a long tirade on the Cheney Energy commission. Sadly the article spends most of its time wandering around the politics or the issue rather than the viability or comparative use in a world with a strong need to move away from fossil fuels.
For more from another perspective, click here.

Finally, they're also running an online poll asking: Does the U.S. nuclear power industry's safety record of the past 25 years warrant a "renaissance" of new reactors?.

As you can see, the industry is doing pretty well. Be sure to stop by and make sure your voice is heard too. More later, as events warrant, all week long.

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New NEI Advertisement in Roll Call

There's a new NEI advertisement that's running in two editions of Roll Call this week:


For a closer look, click here (PDF).

C-Span Programming Alert

Appearing this morning on C-Span:

News Conference
Greenhouse Gases
U.S. Climate Action Partnership
Washington, District of Columbia (United States)
ID: 196289 - 01/22/2007 - 1:00 - No Sale

Lash, Jonathan President, World Resources Institute
Belda, Alain Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
Holliday, Chad Chairman and CEO, DuPont Corporation

Corporate leaders and environmental advocates call for federal action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adopting climate-friendly technology.
There are three legs to the carbon emissions triad: transportation, electricity and heavy industry. This is the third leg. Click here for the live feed.

Anti-Nuke Opposition in Canada Seems Muted

The probability of a grand bargain in Canada on nuclear energy and carbon emissions is looking more and more likely every day:

As I and others have pointed out, emissions from Ontario electricity generation were 12 million tonnes less in 2006 than in 2000, chiefly because 4 nuclear reactors have come back into service since 2003. Did the anti-nuke crowd weigh these massive emission reductions against the relatively small and totally manageable radioactive waste problem and decide to abandon their theological opposition to nuclear power?
An interesting question. Be sure to check in with our friend Steven Aplin periodically on the situation in Canada.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Polar Bears for Nuclear Energy

From the Detroit News:


Have a good weekend.

Don't Turn the Lights Out Yet

Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister Roumen Ovcharov said that the country should try to negotiate a way to restart the recently shutdown Kozloduy nuclear power plants. Read about it here. I suspect that this announcement is at least partially linked to the EU's recent report outlining ambitious policies to combat global warming.

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Massachusetts to Join RGGI

From the AP:

Gov. Deval Patrick, making good on a campaign pledge, will announce Thursday that Massachusetts will join the nation's first multistate program to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is designed to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 10 percent by 2019. It has already been signed by governors from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney opted out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2005, saying it could drive up energy costs for consumers.
For more from our files on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, click here.

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Is Sweden Losing Its Nuclear Expertise?

Finland's top nuclear safety regulator thinks so:

In the view of Jukka Laaksonen, director-general of Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), recent reports of shutdowns of Swedish commercial nuclear reactors because of security problems suggest that there has been a "deterioration of expertise", in nuclear power in that country.

Laaksonen says that he sector no longer attracts gifted young people, ever since Sweden decided to give up nuclear powers. Experts in the field, who are actually quite skilful, have been recruited from various countries such as Vietnam and the former Soviet Union.

Speaking at an event launching the latest safety study on Finnish nuclear power plants on Thursday, Laaksonen said that Swedish officials are also losing touch.

He noted that things are different in Finland: more nuclear energy is being built, and the field interests gifted young people. At Lappeenranta Technical University alone, 200 students are studying it.

He also feels that Finnish officials are very much in touch with the situation. STUK has kept a tight rein on the builders of the new reactor at Olkiluoto. "We have maintained German expertise by training 1,000 experts from that country in connection with the Olkiluoto 3 project", Laaksonen said. The facility is being built by a German-French joint venture.
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Thursday, January 18, 2007

GAO Report: NRC Needs Increased Funding to Handle Heavier Workload

From the AP:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's ability to hire enough workers to manage the expected onslaught of new nuclear reactor applications will be crippled without increased funding, a report by the investigative arm of Congress says.

NRC Chairman Dale Klein said he, too, was concerned about the agency's ability to handle the license requests unless it receives more money from Congress. Without a new budget, the agency will be $95 million, or 12 percent, short.

"It will slow (the licensing) down," he said in an interview.

A Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday examined his agency's workforce challenges.

"The funding and full-time equivalent restrictions ... would have a crippling impact on our ability to manage human capital," Klein wrote in a response included in the GAO report released Wednesday.
To read a plain text copy of the report, click here.

Late last week, in a letter to the Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Senators Tom Carper and George Voinovich warned that if the NRC was held to FY 2006 funding levels in the FY 2007 budget...
[W]e believe the NRC will be unable to fulfill critical regulatory responsibilities not just in FY 07, but for several subsequent fiscal years.
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NEI's Energy Markets Report (January 8th - 12th)

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

Electricity prices were mostly increasing throughout the country last week (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices rose at the Henry Hub increasing $0.50 to $6.00 / MMBtu (see page 4). Uranium prices remained at $72 / lb U3O8 for the fifth week in a row (see page 7). Crude oil prices decreased to $57.76 / barrel (see page 5). Crude oil futures traded at $54.12 / barrel for February (see page 6).

Summer temperature patterns are expected to return to normal during 2007, with cooling degree-days 10 percent lower than 2006. Following the significant residential price increases experienced during 2006, residential prices are expected to grow at a more modest rate of 2.5 percent during 2007. While the forecast for the remaining winter months is for only slightly warmer-than-normal weather, the average Henry Hub spot price this winter is expected to remain below $7.

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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Arguing Nuclear Economics in Fresno

Over at Central Valley IndyMedia, Alan Cheah and Mark Stout were asking questions about the economics of new nuclear build in Fresno.

David Bradish and Michael Stuart were happy to explode some myths.

For our Fresno archive, click here.

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House Speaker to Create Global Warming Committee

That's the word from The Corner.

UPDATE: Details here:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, intent on putting global warming atop the Democratic agenda, is shaking up traditional committee fiefdoms dominated by some of Congress' oldest and most powerful members.

She's moving to create a special committee to recommend legislation for cutting greenhouse gases, most likely to be chaired by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a Democratic leadership aide said Wednesday.
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Palisades Receives License Renewal

Palisades is now the 48th nuclear power plant granted license renewal by the NRC to extend the plant's operating life 20 years. With the Palisades, D.C. Cook, and Fermi plants, nuclear power provides 27% of the electricity generated in Michigan. To see how that translates into emissions avoided, click here.

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Are Democrats Giving Nuclear Energy a Second Look?

Some interesting thoughts from our friends Rod Adams and Ruth Sponsler.

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Earth Day Canada Kicks Up The FUD on Nuclear Energy

Earth Day Canada has just started a new blog called Eco Kids. Earlier today, they decided that their topic of the day would be nuclear power:

There are several pros and cons of nuclear power. One pro is: it does not directly produce pollution. Cons of nuclear power are: it produces nuclear waste that is dangerous to humans and ecosystems; nuclear waste takes millions of years to decompose; and, it takes a lot of energy to mine the uranium used to create nuclear power. Thousands of gallons of petroleum are used in the mining process, releasing a lot of greenhouse gases.
My, what a balanced presentation! I count at least three half-truths and one outright error. How about you?

I left a comment directing their readers to NEI's Science Club, our own Web property geared toward school age children, but my comment has yet to be moderated. I wonder if it ever will.

As always, if you stop by to leave a comment, please be polite.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More on Utilities Supporting Climate Change Bill

MSNBC reports

In a sign that US electricity companies are recognising that the Democratic-controlled Congress will seek to impose aggressive climate change initiatives, six companies, including Exelon, one of the largest utility companies, on Wednesday endorsed a bill that would reduce their projected emissions by 25 per cent below projected levels by 2020.
As Eric mentions below, the six companies are Entergy, Exelon, Florida Power & Light, Pacific Gas and Electric, Public Service Enterprise Group and Calpine. The bill, sponsored by Senators Feinstein and Carper, features a cap-and-trade mechanism for carbon emissions which is opposed by the White House, among others.

The MSNBC quotes critics that say
the six companies have a comparative advantage over rival power companies, in that they are less dependent on creating power from coal and have been more active in moving to nuclear power and wind power.
Feinstein says that this bill is one of several intended to address global warming. Others will include provisions to raise fuel economy standards by 10 miles per gallon and to create an industrial cap-and-trade system.

Hmmm...I wonder what kind of effect separating emissions control into at least three (electricity generation, transportation and industrial operations) distinct bills will have.

In Support of Diablo Canyon License Renewal

North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN) member Chad Sorensen authored an op-ed that appears today in The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, California. In it, Sorensen explains his support for the 20-year license renewal of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant which, by itself, supplies 10% of the electricity generated in the state. For more on California's energy situation read the posts here and here.

Leading Utility Companies to Support Climate Change Legislation

Just got a note from one of my colleagues in the media group:

Reports from CQ and The Hill show that there's a 10:30 a.m. news conference on the Hill today at which the following companies will voice support for a Carper/Feinstein bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Bill features cap and trade mechanism. Companies are: Entergy, Exelon, Florida Power & Light, PG&E Corp., Public Service Enterprise Group and Calpine.
More as this develops.

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Czech Republic Considering New Nuclear Build

It's a debate that sounds a lot like the one in Germany.

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A Uranium Comeback in South Dakota?

From Mining Exploration:

Uranium exploration could begin anew in the southwestern Black Hills, and a uranium mining technique new to South Dakota could make its debut.

[...]

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources will hold hearings on the two issues today and Thursday in Pierre.

Powertech Uranium Corp., based in Vancouver, British Columbia, has applied for a permit to drill 155 exploratory holes northwest of Edgemont, in the Dewey-Burdock area.
As you might imagine, there is local opposition.

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Can Germany Live Without Nuclear Energy?

That's the question that Spiegel Online is asking today. Also, be sure to read a companion piece on the global nuclear renaissance.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Merkel Challenges Anti-Nukes on Future Energy Plans

German Prime Minister Angela Merkel seems determined to force her anti-nuclear partners in her coalition government to start providing some solutions to the country's energy fix:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked the opponents of nuclear energy in Germany to come up with realistic solutions to the country's energy needs while paying heed to environmental issues.

"I'm saying that those who want both the nuclear phase-out and climate protection are now, naturally, called upon to provide answers," Merkel said in an interview on German Radio on Sunday.
For our post from last week on this topic, click here.

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Senators McCain and Lieberman to Reintroduce Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act

From Reuters:

Six U.S. senators, including potential 2008 presidential contenders from both major parties, unveiled legislation on Friday that would force power plants and industry to curb heat-trapping greenhouse gases, seeking to cut emissions to one-third of 2000 levels by 2050.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and possible 2008 presidential contender, introduced a new version of the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, which he has pursued since 2003 with Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent.

Their "cap-and-trade" plan would place a ceiling on emissions of six kinds of greenhouse gases. It would allow emitters from four sectors -- electric utilities, transportation, general industry and commercial -- to either reduce emissions outright or buy tradable permits to comply with the rules.
Among the bill's four co-sponsors: Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. For a look at a previous version of the legislation from 2005, click here. Also see the African-American Environmentalists Association.

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World Nuclear News Debuts

Our friends at the World Nuclear Association and the World Nuclear University have combined forces to produce World Nuclear News.

From the Web site:

WNN is an online information service that covers the latest developments related to nuclear power. Our aim is to combine accessibility with accuracy. We seek to serve a broad audience that includes not only nuclear professionals but also journalists, researchers, opinion leaders, policy-makers and the general public. WNN stories are supplied free of charge and may be freely reproduced.
Click here to subscribe. And congratulations to everyone at WNN for a successful launch.

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Obituary: Former Westinghouse Executive John W. Simpson

From the Washington Post:

John W. Simpson, 92, a Westinghouse executive and electrical engineer who became an early figure in the development of nuclear power for sea and space propulsion, as well as electric power generation, died Jan. 4 at Hilton Head Regional Medical Center in South Carolina. He had pneumonia.

With Westinghouse, a foremost maker of nuclear reactors, Mr. Simpson had a leading role in nuclear projects at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee; nuclear-powered Naval vessels such as the USS Nautilus submarine; and the Shippingport nuclear reactor project in Pennsylvania, the first full-scale civilian nuclear power plant.

After his retirement as president of Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s Power Systems Co. in the 1970s, he remained active as an energy consultant. He was regarded as an eminence in the nuclear field and an eyewitness to its emergence.
On behalf of everyone at NEI Nuclear Notes, our condolences to his family and friends.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

FP&L Nears New Build Announcement

From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Florida Power & Light Co. plans to announce the site for a proposed nuclear power plant in the state during the first quarter of the year, moving it a step ahead in the process that could result in Florida's first new nuclear plant in more than two decades.

Juno Beach-based FPL, which operates two nuclear complexes at Turkey Point and St. Lucie, has not committed to building a new nuclear generating facility. But choosing a site represents an early step in the long and complicated process of deciding on the economic merits of building a new plant, which could cost $5 billion to $6 billion, developing the project and obtaining licensing and other approvals from federal, state and local authorities.
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