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Shut Down Indian Point Coalition

Shut Down Indian Point Coalition
This week 44 organizations called on NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Environmental Chair Costa Constantinides, as well as the other members of the Council, to co-sponsor Res. #694 to shut down Indian Point.

See letter and packet here.

We have learned that the Speaker needs to hear from organizations that there are lots of people who want Resolution 694 brought to a hearing and
a vote.

Please call the Speaker’s Legislative Assistant Robert Newman today at 212-788-2210 and ask that the Speaker bring the resolution to the floor for a hearing and vote as soon as possible.… Read More

Nuking clean energy: how nuclear power makes wind and solar harder"> Thumbnail for 532101

Average hourly load over a one-week period in January, April and July 2009. Credit B. Posner.

This post first appeared on Power for the People, a blog focused on energy issues in Virginia, the home base of Dominion Resources–a company that is an industry laggard when it comes to renewable energy issues, and is still pursuing the possibility of building a third nuclear reactor at its North Anna site despite its costs projection of around $19 Billion, which would make it the most expensive nuclear project ever undertaken in the U.S. Those projections are not far off the costs anticipated for the UK’s highly controversial Hinkley Point reactor and, given the near-certainty of cost overruns and schedule delays, could go far higher if construction is attempted.

In this piece, Ivy Main explains–I think much more clearly than I have to date–exactly how deployment of expensive nuclear power (and baseload power generally) prevents the growth of cleaner, safer and cheaper renewable energy sources. And it’s not true only in Virginia; while that state has a higher percentage of nuclear than many, meaning that it is closer to the point where nuclear blocks out renewables, the problem is real in every nuclear-powered state–and nation–to one degree or another. This is the key reason why nuclear power is counterproductive in the battle to forestall global warming: renewables are faster to deploy and can provide low-carbon power more cheaply than nuclear–both necessities if we are to prevent the worst of climate change’s impacts.

Michael Mariotte

Dominion Resources CEO Tom Farrell is famously bullish on nuclear energy as a clean solution in a carbon-constrained economy, but he’s got it wrong. Nuclear is a barrier to a clean-energy future, not a piece of it. That’s only partly because new nuclear is so expensive that there’s little room left in a utility budget to build wind and solar. A more fundamental problem is that when nuclear is part of the energy mix, high levels of wind and solar become harder to achieve.

To understand why, consider the typical demand curve for electricity in the Mid-Atlantic, including Virginia. Demand can be almost twice as high at 5 p.m. as it is at 5 a.m., especially on a hot summer day with air conditioners running.

The supply of electricity delivered by the grid at any moment has to exactly match the demand: no more and no less. More than any other kind of generating plant, though, the standard nuclear reactor is inflexible in its output. It generates the same amount of electricity day in and day out. This means nuclear can’t be used to supply more than the minimum demand level, known as baseload. In the absence of energy storage, other fuel sources that can be ramped up or down as needed have to fill in above baseload.

Wind and solar have the opposite problem: instead of producing the same amount of electricity 24/7, their output varies with the weather and time of day. If you build a lot of wind turbines and …read moreRead More

German utilities may drop lawsuits for decommissioning deal"> Thumbnail for 531890

Before 2011, nuclear power generated nearly 18% of the electricity in Germany. After the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, Germany elected to gradually shut down its nuclear reactors and stop generating electricity from nuclear power.

In response, the biggest utilities in Germany sued the government for billions of Euros in compensation.

E.ON and RWE, the two largest utilities in Germany, have indicated that they might drop their lawsuits (8 billion Euro and an estimated 6 billion Euro respectively) against the German government in exchange for a sweetened deal on the decommissioning costs related to the shutdown.

Experts have estimated that the decommissioning of nuclear power plants in Germany will cost at least 80 billion Euro. Utilities in Germany have set aside some 40 billion Euros for decommissioning activities to date.

Source: Reuters

The post German utilities may drop lawsuits for decommissioning deal appeared first on Enformable.

…read moreRead More

The alternative is now the mainstream"> Thumbnail for 526041

According to Lazard, the most cost-effective options to reduce carbon emissions are wind and utility-scale solar. Rooftop solar might fit there, except that Lazard found that the cost of installing rooftop solar in the U.S. runs twice that of the rest of the world.

It’s a truism perhaps most prevalent in the music scene: today’s alternative is tomorrow’s mainstream.

I remember when a new Irish band called U2 first came to the United States. Their first show was at a Washington club called The Bayou, where my band frequently played. U2 was opening for some good friends of mine, the locally-hot Slickee Boys. Afterwards, the Irish kids went off on their American tour in support of their just-released first album, Boy. I Will Follow from the album became a monster hit on alternative radio (mainstream rock radio at the time wouldn’t touch it). But the buzz in the indy media was strong enough so that when U2 came back to the Bayou for their final U.S. show of the tour, The Slickee Boys opened for them. And a local rock radio station carried the concert live. U2 never looked back, becoming for years one of the (some might argue “the”) biggest rock bands in the world.

There are surely similar stories out there about Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and most every other initially indie music act that hit it big. And there are probably stories about other arenas–film, literature, whatever.

The concept seems to work for energy too.

Back in the day–ok, even five years ago–solar and wind power were often described as “alternatives.” Alternatives to coal, or nuclear, or whatever energy source they were being compared to. Hell, even NIRS’ own website still has a section focused on renewables and efficiency labeled Alternatives to Nuclear. The implication of being an “alternative” is that it isn’t quite mainstream yet, perhaps not yet ready for the big time.

If that’s the case, perhaps the Nuclear Energy Institute should set up a new section promoting nuclear power on its website titled Alternatives to Clean Energy. Because clean energy is now the mainstream and the electricity production sources of the 20th century are, at most, alternatives. To be sure, though, they are obsolete alternatives.

Last week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) pointed out that renewables are now the second largest generation source in the world, topped only by coal, and that renewables accounted for half of all new generation in 2014.

But more forward-looking–and even more compelling–is a report released yesterday from the investment bank Lazard, which examines the levelized costs of the various energy technologies. Wind and solar are not only beating nuclear–as would be expected–but also coal and even natural gas. Remember that next time you read about some utility exec (or uninformed journalist) complaining that nuclear reactors are closing because of competition from low-priced gas. Sure, the ready availability of gas right now due to large-scale fracking means there is ample supply at low cost–but the real competition on the price end from …read moreRead More

India-Australia nuclear agreement: supplying uranium to a nuclear flashpoint"> Thumbnail for 524073

Australia has chosen to sell its uranium into the worlds most dangerous nuclear flashpoint. It has done so against the recommendations of a parliamentary joint committee.

The post India-Australia nuclear agreement: supplying uranium to a nuclear flashpoint appeared first on

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Dear John (Hansen),"> Thumbnail for 519551

James Hansen is a tireless climate campaigner, but he’s no energy expert…

November 13, 2015

Dear John,

Thanks for the e-mail yesterday from your PR firm, notifying me of the press conference you’re planning on December 3 in Paris, in conjunction with the COP 21 climate negotiations.

Though I have to admit I was a little surprised to receive it, seeing as how you never responded to my last letter to you. Remember? It was the one where I asked to debate you about nuclear power and whether it could be a solution to the climate crisis you have so ably articulated over the years? I even offered a very nice potential debate location here in Washington, where we could make sure there would be an audience and some media to chronicle the event.

I, along with my colleagues from the Civil Society Institute (oh, and more than 300 other groups as I recall) asked for that debate after you and three of your colleagues published an open letter to us–all of us critics of nuclear power–in November 2013 where you essentially told us to either support new nuclear power or shut up and go away.

But I guess the idea of an open letter wasn’t the same as wanting an open debate, because from you (and your three colleagues) I got bupkus. Nothing. Nada. Frankly, I–and all those 300+ organizations–took your silence as an admission that you were afraid to debate us, because, again frankly, when it comes to nuclear power you don’t know what you’re talking about. And your lack of knowledge on the subject is getting to be an embarrassment for those of us on the frontlines of the battle to build an effective response to the climate crisis. You see, it’s not only that nuclear power isn’t going to help with climate, for all the reasons we detailed in our letter to you, it’s that trying to go the nuclear route would be counterproductive–it would actually make things worse.

So, when I first noticed your PR firm’s e-mail sent to me, I thought perhaps you had reconsidered your blind support for nuclear power. After all, why send it to me at all otherwise? And I have to admit, the first couple of sentences were pretty promising. It says the same four of you are issuing a “stark challenge to world leaders and environmental campaigners” warning of “the increasing urgency of fully decarbonizing the world economy.” I couldn’t agree more.

But then you lost me, because the rest of the e-mail doesn’t talk much at all about the climate; rather, it sounds the same message as your November 2013 open letter: that environmentalists must accept nuclear power, that we need a lot of nuclear power, that renewables can’t do the job, and so on.

But John, let’s look at what’s changed in the energy world since November 2013. It’s pretty easy to do, just flip through the pages of GreenWorld and you’ll get a pretty good sense of it. On the …read moreRead More

Entergy will delay decommissioning of FitzPatrick nuclear power plant"> Thumbnail for 514534

Last Monday Entergy announced that they would shutdown the FitzPatrick nuclear power plant sometime in early 2017, because it was not financially profitable anymore and was costing the company some $60 million per year.

Entergy officials have confirmed that they will seek to defer the decommissioning of the FitzPatrick nuclear power plant under the “SAFSTOR” option. This will allow the utility to wait up to 50 years while the money in the decommissioning fund grows and the radioactivity on-site diminishes.

Federal regulations require that the nuclear power plant be decommissioned within 60 years of shutting down.

The most recent analysis shows that the FitzPatrick decommissioning fund has roughly $728 million dollars. NRC early estimates say it will cost at least $1.1 billion to decommission the reactor, but the actual cost will likely be much more. Entergy expects the fund to grow by 2% per year.

After shutting down the FitzPatrick plant, Entergy will remove the fuel from the reactor and in a few years they will begin transferring spent fuel to dry casks for storage during the dormant period until they start decommissioning the facility. The exact timeline for the process will be communicated in a decommissioning plan that has not yet been released by Entergy.

SAFSTOR is a controversial option, in part because of the enormous economic impact shutting down a nuclear power plant has on the surrounding community, and because the land can’t be put to any other valuable use until the site has been properly decommissioned. Critics are telling Entergy that they could keep more workers on-site and return the land to beneficial use faster if they don’t delay the decommissioning.

Entergy is also taking advantage of the SAFSTOR process to defer the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant which shut down in 2014. Entergy has said that they will start dismantling Vermont Yankee sometime between 2040 and 2069, depending on how long it takes for the decommissioning fund to grow.

The post Entergy will delay decommissioning of FitzPatrick nuclear power plant appeared first on Enformable.

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NEIS hosted the first training session of the newly formed Radiation Monitoring Project (RMP) in Chicago on October 30th. Nuclear researcher Lucas Hixson of Enformable Environmental Services of Michigan conducted an intensive training for 10 eager trainees on the topics of radiation and the field use of monitors. The Chicago event was the first of … Continue reading RADIATION MONITORING PROJECT HOLDS FIRST TRAINING …read moreRead More

Revisiting the pawn/toast prognostication as more reactors close"> Thumbnail for 506851

Another one bites the dust: New York’s Fukushima-clone Fitzpatrick reactor will close permanently next year.

In mid-September, I wrote a piece delving into prognostication–always a dangerous endeavor–identifying (with tongue slightly in cheek) the nation’s most troubled nuclear reactors and dividing them into two piles: pawn or toast. Toast was those reactors most likely to shut down; pawn indicated that while on the precipice, the utilities would go to great lengths to avoid shutting them down.

Only six weeks or so later, enough has happened to revisit that list and see how we’ve done.

I wrote then that Entergy’s Fitzpatrick reactor was toast. Yesterday, Entergy announced that Fitzpatrick will close permanently at the end of its current fuel cycle–sometime toward the end of next year. Pretty good prediction, though I wrote that Entergy wouldn’t make the announcement until December. As it turns out, the reactor is losing so much money that Entergy couldn’t wait to end its misery.

And I wrote that Pilgrim, which Entergy announced last month will close by 2019, and probably in 2017 or even earlier, was a pawn. Oops. But I also wrote, “Entergy probably wouldn’t survive as a company if it had to close Pilgrim, Fitzpatrick and Indian Point, so it will fight mightily to keep at least two of those sites open. Of course, who cares if Entergy survives?” Entergy, of course, cares whether Entergy survives, and it’s now placing all of its bets on keeping Indian Point open despite a growing grassroots campaign against it and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s insistence that it close.

The alternative for Entergy is to get out of the Northeast entirely and concentrate on its southern presence, which consists of badly-maintained and operated reactors like Arkansas One, which is at the very bottom of the NRC’s worst reactors list. Recognizing that its entree into the Northeast has been an abject failure would be a good move for Entergy, whose roots are in the South anyway: Entergy was born from Middle South Utilities, which operated in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas; its expansion came by buying up obsolete reactors, like Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee, at a discount, and running them as cheaply as possible for as long as possible.

Despite the fact that Indian Point is, for now, a cash cow for Entergy, the handwriting is on the wall. A smart company would be trying to figure out what kind of concessions it could get from the state to go ahead and close Indian Point. Given how badly Gov. Cuomo wants it shut, those concessions could be substantial. And making some kind of deal now would allow Entergy to at least get something out of its New York adventure, and return to its base with something in its pocket.

Gov. Cuomo has said that his opposition to Indian Point doesn’t extend to Fitzpatrick, and has made some crocodile tears statements that Entergy shouldn’t close that reactor and lay off all those people. The reality however is that Entergy has been looking for a deal …read moreRead More