Skip to main content

Is Nuclear the Green Solution?

nationaljournal Not our question – because we know the answer – but that of the The National Journal, which has set up a forum for invited parties to grapple with the question. When we checked, some of the pro-nuclear sources had weighed in -

  • Paul Sullivan, Professor of Economics, National Defense University
  • Elizabeth Moler, Executive Vice President for Government & Environmental Affairs & Public Policy, Exelon
  • Bill Johnson, CEO, Progress Energy
  • Marvin Fertel, President and CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute

Presumably, the folks with somewhat less sanguine views toward nuclear will be showing up as the week goes on. Here’s the introduction:

Senate Republicans want to build 100 new commercial nuclear power plants over the next 20 years. Over the last two years the industry has applied for licenses to build 30 new reactors, and Babcock & Wilcox Co. recently unveiled a new mini-nuke plant aimed at supplying power to small electricity users, such as municipal districts or individual industrial customers. But critics say nuclear power is too expensive and so risky that Wall Street won't finance the new plants. Opponents are critical of proposals for a federal loan guarantee program for low-carbon energy projects that could help finance the new nuclear plants.

We won’t quote any of the responses here, pro or con, especially since the thread will grow as the week goes along, but check over there a couple times to see who’s mixing it up. Hopefully, we’ll get some counterintuitive and interesting perspectives rather than boilerplate.

Comments

perdajz said…
In the past several years, "Wall Street" (R.I.P.) destroyed itsef because it could not manage risk, while the nuclear power industry managed risk flawlessly. The idea that people who gorged themselves on mortgage backed securities or who entered into agreements with AIG as a counterparty, are now in a position to judge the riskiness of the nuclear power industry is silly. The nuclear power industry is so good at operational risk that worker injury rates in the nuclear power industry are comparable to those in banking and finance. This must be absolutely stunning to anyone who manages operational risk in the banking industry.

The financial center of the universe has moved to Washington. When the political will is there, Washington will cajole the financing of nuclear power. Unfortunately, we will need a boom and bust cycle in "renewable" energy before this comes to pass.

In the meantime, please spare me the idea that the major banks are any source of wisdom or perspective. The major banks are busy reworking their risk analysis models because they were sloppy and greedy for years. The nuclear power industry needs no such thing because the nukes got it right the first time.

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…