Monday, March 31, 2008

The Happiest Place in the World

That of course would be Walt Disney World, but in neighboring Levy county, the next most happiest, Progress Energy is set to build a new nuclear power plant. The response by Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Thomas is exceptionally upbeat:

Locally, the only major controversy comes from neighboring Citrus County, which houses the utility's Crystal River nuclear plant and is miffed it isn't getting this one.

The state of Florida is gung-ho, which means no major obstacles from the Public Service Commission or Department of Environmental Protection.

Nuclear power is the only option available to meet Gov. Charlie Crist's ambitious goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
A new state law will allow Progress Energy to begin collecting money for the $17 billion facility in advance. So the utility's customers could see a $9 bump in an average electric bill beginning in January.

To speed up the federal review process, Progress Energy plans to use a next-generation Westinghouse AP1000 reactor. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission already has signed off on the basic design.

The only way this plant does not get built is if Progress Energy makes a business decision not to build it.

That I can make such a statement without being laughed out of the newsroom shows how far we have come in our view of nuclear power.

And the money line?

I would much rather live down the street from a Westinghouse AP1000 than a coal-fired plant.

Wouldn't we all?

---

Also at the Orlando Sentinel is an op-ed extolling the virtues of loan guarantees to build new plants. Lynn Edward Weaver is president emeritus of the Florida Institute of Technology and does an excellent job explaining that it is appropriate and historically apt that government take a role here.

Federal support for a strategically important energy source is hardly new. We wouldn't have the oil, gas or coal industries as they are today without massive federal support. Wind and solar power exist only because of government subsidies. The main alternative fuel for vehicles -- ethanol -- is totally a result of tax credits and subsidies. For national security and environmental requirements, the government has an appropriate role in supporting the development of clean, American energy sources. And the request for nuclear is not an outright subsidy -- just a guarantee that if an extremely serious and unlikely delay occurred, the government would help fund the additional cost. Most experts agree that it is extremely unlikely that the guarantees would ever cost the government a dollar.

Weaver does not mention that new plant over in Levy County, so this might be an editorial making the rounds, but since he is a Floridian, his words added to Thomas' suggest a strong vote for nuclear power in the state. All those trips to Tomorrowland have paid off.

No comments: