Skip to main content

A Baby Step for Small Reactors in Indiana

One of the benefits of small reactors is that they will (in all likelihood) cost less than full scale reactors. The admittedly enormous price of a new plant can be offset by their relatively low running costs, so new ones can be built – as in Georgia and South Carolina – but small reactors can be envisioned in places and by utilities that have shied away from nuclear energy due to cost – and maybe also a sense of overkill in less populous areas. At least, that’s a thought to turn over, but there hasn’t been that much evidence of it even as small reactors enter their prototyping and licensing phases.

Until now:

Indiana hasn't tried to build a nuclear power plant since two efforts fizzled in the 1980s over high costs, nearly bankrupting one of the companies in the process.

But an influential state senator says it's time to encourage nuclear power again and has introduced a bill that would provide financial incentives to utilities to build nuclear plants.

As a picture in the Indianapolis Star story shows, the state is surrounded by states that do have nuclear facilities – including Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, with a couple right at the border – so Indiana probably already gets some of its electricity from nuclear energy.

His (state Senator Jim Merritt’s) bill, Senate Bill 302, would allow utilities to build a nuclear plant, or a small modular reactor, and pass along the construction costs to customers years before the plant goes into operation.

Small modular reactors, which are still on the drawing board, are less than a third the size of a standard 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor. One manufacturer, Babcock & Wilcox, has designed a 180-megawatt nuclear reactor that can be built on assembly lines rather than built from scratch on-site.

Merritt admits that utilities have not asked for this – so who knows if they want one – but it gives small reactors a bit of a boost and begins showing the result of their percolation. This’ll be interesting to track in the coming months – I reckon there’ll be more states taking an interest in small reactors and with them, nuclear energy.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…