Friday, May 06, 2011

The Hidden Cost of Yucca, The States of Nuclear

In the Congressional hearing report a few posts down, several House members turned the heat up on four NRC commissioners (including Chairman Gregory Jaczko) over the commission’s decision – or action, as it hasn’t technically made a decision yet - to not review the license for the Yucca Mountain used fuel repository.

So a report from the Government Accounting Office acts only to pour both salt and lemon on the wound:

The U.S. government could face fines of $75,000 a day if it fails to find a way to store or handle stockpiles of defense-related nuclear waste by 2035, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Because Yucca Mountain was meant to harbor this material, too. 

In government terms, $75,000 may sound paltry. It adds up:

If the Energy Department does not find a way to remove the waste by then, it could face "significant penalties," GAO says: $60,000 a day for the remains in Idaho and $15,000 a day for remains in Colorado - or $27.4 million annually.

That’s not so paltry.

The decision to halt work on the repository does seem to have required more thought than it received, but who knows? Maybe the Blue Ribbon Commission will come up with some better ideas.

See the story for more on all this – the account from Dow Jones is quite interesting. You can find the whole GAO report here.


We can’t say that two swallows make a spring – but neither do they bring on winter.

Here’s one:

Missouri House members have endorsed a proposal to let utilities charge electric customers for some costs of developing a nuclear power plant before it's built.

The House voted 121-21 Thursday to add the nuclear plant issue to a separate bill, which wasn't put to a final vote. The legislative session ends May 13.

Not bad – let’s see how this works out.

And two:

The top Senate Republican says the Minnesota Legislature likely won't vote this year on a bill to lift a ban on new nuclear power plants.

Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch told reporters Thursday that the bill is "on pause" after passing both chambers in February.

The tell:

The nuclear crisis in Japan also didn't help its prospects.

Says the reporter. This bit wasn’t sourced. In any event, passing this bill wouldn’t have guaranteed a new plant, just allowed the state to consider nuclear among its energy options. Whether or not Fukushima weighed in, seems silly to exclude nuclear from the mix.

Motto: Can’t win ‘em all. Though you can keep trying – I wager this bill will be back in the next session of Minnesota’s legislature.


Iowa voted a couple of weeks ago to allow MidAmerican to charge ratepayers the cost of studying a new reactor in that state. The value of doing this is that it saves the utility from borrowing money – with the (considerable) finance charges paid by ratepayers. This way, none of that.

At least, that’s what I thought the charges were for. Instead, MidAmerican apparently wants to move right ahead with two small reactors:

If approved, it would clear the way for MidAmerican Energy, the state's largest utility, to begin billing customers in advance for the estimated $1 billion cost of developing one or more small modular nuclear reactors that could be on line as early as 2020.

This is a bit of a puzzle, as no design for a small reactor has been licensed by the NRC yet. It might happen in time to get the Iowa reactors up and running by 2020, but it seems a big “might.” I wonder if Forbes has this right. We’ll check into this and report back.

We sometimes show a picture of an African or Asian city at night to show why the country that houses it is considering nuclear energy. Doesn’t seem fair to ignore the North American continent. So - here’s Minneapolis – not enjoying the possibility of a new nuclear plant.

1 comment:

DocForesight said...

That glow you see in the background of the Minneapolis skyline is the Aurora Borealis - kind of - as Minneapolis isn't at the end of the world, but you can see it from there.