Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Way Out West with Nuclear Energy

Make no bones about it:

"Let there be no doubt. Let there be no mistake. Let there be no mischaracterization: I'm a strong advocate for the development of more nuclear energy in Arizona," [Gov. Jan] Brewer told the conference of elected officials and business leaders at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. "Nuclear power is at the cornerstone of our clean-energy future."

That's about as definitive as it gets. And why is Gov. Brewer convinced nuclear is the way to go?

But Brewer stressed its value as a consistent energy source with stable costs and no greenhouse-gas emissions. There are about 3,000 employees at Palo Verde.

Her enthusiasm was duly noted.

"She was passionate about it. She was almost strident. I said, 'Wow,' " said Martin Shultz, vice president of intergovernmental affairs for Pinnacle West Capital Corp., parent of Arizona Public Service, which operates Palo Verde.

Now, let's point out that Brewer also supports renewables and the article notes her success with tax credits encouraging solar panel production - solar energy seems a natural for Arizona, after all.

Even more promising in terms of job production are renewable energies, for which Brewer believes the state is well-suited with its wealth of sunshine, available workforce and corporate-tax incentives.
Taken together, all we can say about Gov. Brewer's energy outlook is, um, Wow!


We looked around for editorial response in the state and found this in The Yuma Sun:

Still, nuclear power can be a safe and efficient way to generate power. The advantages it brings mean it needs to be at the top of the list when considering alternatives to our current reliance on fossil fuels. The governor is right to be enthusiastic about nuclear power.
Still early, but so far, Gov. Brewer seems to be on to something.


We mentioned the other day that AREVA has pacted with Fresno Nuclear Energy Group to develop  a plant in California, despite the state's standing ban on new construction. That means, for starters, that there is a certainty on the part of business that the ban will fall.

Although California has had a moratorium on the construction of nuclear reactors for about 30 years, Hutson said the state’s political atmosphere probably will be right for ending the moratorium by the time the Nuclear Regulatory Commission grants a license to build the facility.
Hutson is John Hutson, president of Fresno Nuclear Energy Group.

We'll explore this development in more detail in future posts. For further reading, see here, here, and here.


We were struck by the economic straits Fresno finds itself in:

Right now, some counties in the Fresno area have unemployment above 40 percent, and the region has more food stamp recipients than any other region in the nation, he said.
A nuclear plant would bring thousands of jobs to the region during construction and create 300 permanent, high-paying jobs, [Hutson] said. Also, it would help power desalination facilities, giving the region’s farms more usable water, and provide electricity needed for other companies to move to the region, he said.

We like Hutson's view and do think this effort will do nothing but help the area, but it is clearly in deeper distress than any one company can hope to solve. We didn't get any indication that the state is midwifing this effort, but we certainly hope it is in other areas if not specifically in the energy sphere.
We poked around to see what was happening but didn't run into much that was productive - the state  has notably messy politics and huge budget problems. We did get a better view of what is expected for the Fresno area:
[F]or the Central Valley, especially north of the Fresno area, the grind will continue for months yet to come, fueled by the shutdown of the Toyota assembly plant in Newark, the smoldering foreclosure residue of the mortgage meltdown and the never-ending state budget mess, says a report that was scheduled for release Wednesday from researchers at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Many more efforts like those of AREVA and the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group couldn't come soon enough.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. We didn't do an in-depth hunt, but we couldn't find a single picture with her frowning or looking anything but cheerful.


Anonymous said...

If California stops shooting themselves in the feet, who will the other 49 states make fun of? But let's hope the moratorium falls, for the Californians' sake.

Marcel F. Williams said...

California already imports nuclear electricity from Arizona. Its time for California to end the hypocrisy and start creating more jobs and revenue by building more clean nuclear power plants!

DocForesight said...

The kids under the dome in Sacramento may not come to any agreement on budget priorities, but the Central Valley can be restored to its former productive self with additional secure sources of water.

Radical environmentalists may have over-played their scare tactics hand about nuclear power and the public may just surprise us. With the Pacific Ocean on our coastline, we have plentiful water to desalinate, with the additional benefit of electrical power.

Will Californians put up with high unemployment, high cost of produce, produce imported from other countries and no surface water storage capacity built (with water rationing to accompany that) or will they overturn the ban and allow nuclear desal/electricity plants?

Anonymous said...

Let it be said that Jared Diamond is right, civilizations really do choose their own demise, as we are now witnessing before our very eyes...

Anonymous said...

No way, nuclear power plants are the last thing that California needs... We don't need nuclear disasters built on fault lines or potential Suomi hit coast lines like Japan, and nuclear might be clean at the start but we still cant get rid of the wast we have... Solar, Wind and Ocean Power is the only way to go for the future of California's power needs... We need less Nuclear not More !!!!