Skip to main content

The West and the Wind

gregoire The Western Governors Association surprised a lot of people last year when it issued strong support for nuclear energy among its energy provisions. You can read Nuclear Notes’ coverage of that here.

As I wrote then, the interest isn’t that it was nuclear-friendly, it’s that it focused so intensely on energy issues. This year, they’ve gone further, sending a letter to some key Congressional chairmen:

The Western Governors' Association urged Congress to increase federal loan guarantee authority for new nuclear development by $36 billion, the amount included in President Obama's 2011 budget request. Doing so would enable the financing of six to nine additional new reactors beyond those previously authorized, the governors said.

And why do they want this?

Writing on behalf of their colleagues, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, WGA's chairman, and Washington Gov. Christine O. Gregoire, WGA vice chairman, said this increased loan guarantee volume "will encourage the kind of clean and reliable electric power that will ensure the long term economic and environmental sustainability of the West." 

The full letter is at the group’s site.

---

This feels a little ominous:

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today announced that with only 700 megawatts (MW) added in the second quarter of 2010, wind power installations to date this year have dropped by 57% and 71% from 2008 and 2009 levels, respectively.  Manufacturing investment also continues to lag below 2008 and 2009 levels.

Things have been tough all over, of course, and a chart at AWEA’s site shows that new build has surprisingly frequent rises and falls, meaning that this droop may be part of an established cycle. Might be both things in tandem. Still, ominous:

Beyond 2010: There is a dramatic drop in the project development pipeline after the 5,500 MW under construction—that is, there is no demand beyond the present “coasting momentum.”  Without stable policy, without demand and new power purchase agreements and without new turbine orders, the industry is sputtering out.

I looked around a bit to see if someone had a better notion as to the wherefores of this development. Candace Lombardi at Greentech takes a stab:

The U.S. has stalled on building wind turbine manufacturing facilities. Two manufacturing plants have opened so far in 2010, compared to seven plants opening in 2008 and five in 2009, according to the AWEA.

"In effect, the U.S. is losing the clean energy manufacturing race to Europe and China, which have firm, long-term renewable energy targets and policy commitments in place," AWEA said in a statement.

It really does seem a combination of a nascent technology stalling in the face of dreadful economic times and an uncertain legislative environment. No business has been immune to these factors, but wind really seems to have been caught square. It’ll be interesting to see if AWEA’s quarterly reports show improvement in the next year or two.

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire.

Comments

seth said…
On course Bonneville being a federal agency could just start building the nukes at a fraction of the cost of private utilities. No loan guarantees necessary.
Anonymous said…
Bonneville being a federal agency could just start building the nukes at a fraction of the cost of private utilities.

Why's that? they need to pay for money too.
gmax137 said…
try googling
"Bonneville WPPSS default"

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

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…