Skip to main content

Savings in Georgia; AP Investigates, Finds Nothing

i_survived_the_virginia_earthquakeGeorgia Power is applying some price pressure on its Plant Vogtle project (where Peter Pepper picked a peck of peppers, apparently), as its ability to charge ratepayers a little bit more now saves a lot later.

Georgia Power has cut $18 million from its planned nuclear expansion project at Plant Vogtle, informing state utility regulators Wednesday that their cost for the project is now $6.09 billion.

Now, you may say that now or later, it’s the same amount, but not so.

The cost of Georgia Power’s portion of the project originally was approved for $6.4 billion but reduced to $6.09 billion after the utility was allowed to collect financing costs from customers. The $18 million in reductions stem from financing costs that were lowered “primarily as a result of changing in the timing of cash expenditures,” the report said.

Which means that the interest costs are declining because Georgia Power can pay as it goes on at least some of the activities associated with the two new reactors. A good deal for the ratepayers overall.

---

I understand that the Associated Press started its series on nuclear facilities with the best of intentions: after all, journalists are watchdogs and if the nuclear industry is to be taken to task, so be it. But the industry just hasn’t played along by dishing up the scandalous behavior such a story needs.

Let’s see what’s what:

The risk that an earthquake would cause a severe accident at a U.S. nuclear plant is greater than previously thought, 24 times as high in one case, according to an analysis of preliminary government data by The Associated Press.

That sounds bad, but consider that a number of plants just got shook around last week (and San Onofre in a recent California trembler) none the worse for wear. What the AP means here is a much bigger earthquake than what has occurred lately. But here’s the conclusion:

The average risk to U.S. reactors of core damage from a quake remains low, at one accident every 500 years, according to the AP analysis of NRC data.

Well, that’s taking the long way around. But maybe the NRC and industry aren’t doing anything to enhance earthquake safety.

Just how many nuclear power plants are more vulnerable won't be determined until all operators recalculate their seismic risk, based on geologists' new assessments -- which the agency plans to request later this year. The NRC on Thursday issued a draft of that request for public comment.

The review, launched well before the East Coast quake and the Japan nuclear disaster in March, marks the first complete update to seismic risk in years for the nation's 104 existing reactors, despite research showing greater hazards.

Well, that sounds responsible. Reports have emerged suggesting larger risks, so the NRC is reviewing what this might mean for the nuclear facilities.

Richard Zuercher, spokesman for Dominion, the plant operator [meaning North Anna, which was near the epicenter of the Virginia earthquake], says the earlier estimate "remains sound because additional safety margin was built into the design when the station was built." The safety cushion would shrink, though, if the plant's risk is found to be greater.

Yes, and the safety margin would grow if the plant’s risk is found to be lesser.

This isn’t a case of the AP not providing information that is exculpatory. It’s that the industry and NRC are transparent enough that AP can’t make a viably shocking expose. As shown in the AP’s own story, the industry and NRC are responsive and clearly working with the seismic data – maybe not on the same timetable as the US Geologic Survey (one of AP’s “bombshells”) but none-the-less.

Sometimes less is more, but sometimes it really is just less. I was keenly interested in these AP articles – not that I expected to be shaken up but because I thought I ‘d spend more time disputing them - but they’ve turned out to be kind of a bust. No hanky-panky between regulators and regulated, no fuel rods found piled in a closet, no one sneaking uranium around in a suitcase – just companies and a regulator working through issues. But read it and judge for yourself. Don’t expect to gasp much, though.

NEI has an interesting face sheet on seismic safety issues here.

“I survived the Virginia earthquake,” it says. As did everyone else.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

Seeing the Light on Nuclear Energy

If you think that there is plenty of electricity, that the air is clean enough and that nuclear power is a just one among many options for meeting human needs, then you are probably over-focused on the United States or Western Europe. Even then, you’d be wrong.

That’s the idea at the heart of a new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century,” by Scott L. Montgomery, a geoscientist and energy expert, and Thomas Graham Jr., a retired ambassador and arms control expert.


Billions of people live in energy poverty, they write, and even those who don’t, those who live in places where there is always an electric outlet or a light switch handy, we need to unmake the last 200 years of energy history, and move to non-carbon sources. Energy is integral to our lives but the authors cite a World Health Organization estimate that more than 6.5 million people die each year from air pollution.  In addition, they say, the global climate is heading for ruinous instability. E…