Thursday, April 24, 2014

Exelon’s Nuclear Deeds of (C)Omission

This is from an Exelon press release, but it’s the kind of thing nuclear advocate want because it’s a company touting the benefits of nuclear energy:

Continuing its progress toward a clean energy future, Exelon announced today that it reduced or avoided more than 18 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2013, surpassing its goal of eliminating 17.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year by 2020.

And how did it do that?

  • Retirement of fossil plants and company energy efficiency and process improvement efforts that resulted in a reduction of more than 9.8 million metric tons of GHG emissions;

  • Addition of 316 megawatts (MW) of emission-free energy through uprates across the nuclear fleet;

There’s more bullet points – these are the top two.

More:

Exelon’s industry-leading fleet of nuclear power plants plays an important role in its low-emissions profile, avoiding 82 million metric tons of GHG emissions per year. At a time when nuclear power plants face a combination of economic challenges that threaten their continued operation, Crane noted that the Exelon fleet and nuclear power in general remain essential to meeting the nation’s climate goals.

“Our reliable, always-on nuclear fleet produces enough affordable, carbon-free energy to power 17 million homes annually,” Crane said. “It is part of a U.S. fleet that provides 64 percent of our nation’s carbon-free electricity, up to a quarter of which could be at risk for early retirement. Losing that generating capacity would forfeit more than half of the progress to date in meeting U.S. climate goals. Our energy policies must ensure that existing nuclear energy plants are preserved.”

Loud and proud, as they say. Let it ever be so.

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But look at it the other way. Nuclear power plants may do good via a structural absence – no greenhouse gas emissions- but where there is a deed of omission, there can still be a deed of commission:

Folks in the Clinton area have enjoyed an economic cushion the last 30 years or so, courtesy of Exelon Corp.'s Clinton Power Station.

The nuclear plant, which began commercial operation in 1987, employs 652 people and has an annual payroll of $54 million.

And that’s not all:

Last year, Exelon paid about $13 million in taxes to area governments, with the biggest chunk — $8.5 million of it — going to the Clinton school district.

During the last few decades, tax revenues from Exelon helped build a new courthouse for DeWitt County, a modern library in Clinton and new elementary and junior high schools in town.

Writer Don Dodson goes on to note that Exelon has said it may close facilities if the economy and electricity demand don’t improve and maybe both the press release and this story can be seen as part of a drive to show why that would be a bad idea. If that’s so, fine: it is a bad idea. It would be bad for greenhouse gas emissions and very bad for Clinton.

It’s worth Exelon fussing about it, if that’s what it’s doing and very much worth raising the stakes against the idea of closing nuclear plants

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