Skip to main content

They Write Letters, Don’t They?

2008-04-senator-bernie-sanders Although the Senate bill being drafted by Sens. John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman has not emerged yet, we reported last week on the (leaked, not verified, don’t completely trust it) titles that will be in the bill. Nuclear energy is the subject of one of the titles.

However, we reckon some Senators have gotten a look at it and want to mark out their territory for what they’d like the bill to be. Of course, that’s part of the legislative process, but if some influence can be brought to bear as early as possible, at least favored provisions might find their way into the initial draft. Easier to keep them in if they’re part of the initial bill, perhaps, than to try to get them in later, which requires whipping committee votes

So it is that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) sent a letter to Kerry expressing concern with the legislation:

I have serious concerns about provisions that could harm our environment and provide new federal government support for polluters.

Uh-oh. Well, let’s see what Sen. Sanders would like to see included in the bill first:

  • Retain Investments in Sustainable Energy and Energy Efficiency
  • Add New Sustainable Energy Investments
  • Set A Strong Sustainable Energy Standard
  • Ramp Up Energy Efficiency
  • Provide Green Jobs Training

By sustainable, which usually includes nuclear energy, Sanders means renewable, which does not. But all right, none of this is terrible and surely Sanders just wants to make sure his priorities are not overlooked. But there’s more:

  • Offshore Drilling
  • Coal Plant Emissions

Sanders doesn’t like these.

Or nuclear:

We should not, in the name of addressing global warming, provide even more government loan guarantees and subsidies for new nuclear power, which is actually the most costly form of new energy. Independent estimates are that new nuclear plants will produce energy at 25-30 cents per kilowatt hour, even with Price·Anderson and all of the other government subsidies taken into account.

We suspect Sanders got his 25-30 cent figure from a study done by Joseph Romm at the Center for American Progress, but we can’t say we’d put much value on Dr. Romm’s overall formulations. See here for more on that

We’d probably take a look instead at the Energy Information Administration, since it’s part of the Department of Energy.

The EIA’s estimate took into account construction costs and time, operating and fuel expenses, and the costs of financing. The total system levelized cost for nuclear power was $119 per megawatt-hour (in 2008 dollars). That was lower than the estimate for wind ($149.3), offshore wind ($191.1), solar thermal ($256.6) and solar photovoltaic ($396.1).

“Levelized costs” takes account of construction as well as running costs, hence the higher base figures. Also, megawatts here and kilowatts there.

Bottom line: nuclear isn’t all that vulnerable in cost terms – even less so when one considers that nuclear plants can operate longer than the 30 years used for EIA calculations (But we won’t go there, really – this is very complex stuff). The direct link to the EIA figures is here.

For a Vermonter, Sanders has a very New York way about him – logically, since he was born in Brooklyn and moved to Vermont in 1964 (at age 23). He was mayor of Burlington during the 80s, was in the House during the nineties and most of the 00s and won his Senate seat in 2006. He can be very thundery and, when we’ve seen him in committees, very blunt and very effective at making his points.

Comments

DocForesight said…
Re: Sen. Sanders, never mind that he is often factually compromised. What is the quip? If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with B.S.!

The older I get, the less impressed I am with elected representatives and their ability to deal with facts, truth or reality.

Popular posts from this blog

Knowing What You’ve Got Before It’s Gone in Nuclear Energy

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

Nuclear energy is by far the largest source of carbon prevention in the United States, but this is a rough time to be in the business of selling electricity due to cheap natural gas and a flood of subsidized renewable energy. Some nuclear plants have closed prematurely, and others likely will follow.
In recent weeks, Exelon and the Omaha Public Power District said that they might close the Clinton, Quad Cities and Fort Calhoun nuclear reactors. As Joni Mitchell’s famous song says, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”
More than 100 energy and policy experts will gather in a U.S. Senate meeting room on May 19 to talk about how to improve the viability of existing nuclear plants. The event will be webcast, and a link will be available here.
Unlike other energy sources, nuclear power plants get no specia…

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…