A Federal Appeals Court is set to discuss, Thursday, the future of Savannah River Site’s MOX project. In a letter sent to a Texas congressman and filed in court documents, the National Nuclear Security Agency says it agrees with the decision made by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to stop the project. The State of South Carolina is suing the DOE saying its opinion on the matter was never considered when Secretary Perry issued the directive to end MOX earlier this year. Meanwhile, President Trump signed a new bill last week that would effectively cut MOX down from over $300-billion to $220 billon…which is the exact amount of funds it would take to close the incomplete project safely and in a timely manner.
WJBF 26th Sept 2018 read more »
Southern Co. has snatched defeat from the jaws of a different kind of defeat. On Wednesday, its subsidiary, Georgia Power Co., reached an eleventh-hour agreement with the three other owners of the Vogtle nuclear construction project to move forward with it. One of them, Oglethorpe Power Corp., had earlier demanded a cap on the risk of further cost increases, prompting a sharply worded press release from its, er, partners (“Oglethorpe Power is using the vote to try to burden others with its obligations …”) Nuclear power proponents rightly point out that it provides vast quantities of carbon-free, uninterrupted energy. They also raise concerns about the U.S. falling behind on nuclear technology. That may be a valid concern, but does rather raise the question as to why the good ratepayers of Georgia should be saddled with the costs of maintaining national security. The problem, however, is that these plants are gigantic, one-off projects prone to cost overruns and requiring years of planning and construction before they generate a cent of revenue. This is just an unacceptable risk for most commercial operators, and why government assistance in the form of regulated cost recovery, price guarantees or finance is so often crucial to getting them built. The competitive landscape has changed enormously in just the past decade. Besides shale gas and renewables, energy-efficiency, smart demand management and distributed generation have all begun to crowd onto the field. The newer technologies in particular may not carry the scale of a nuclear plant, but they do have the advantage of being scalable. That is, they can be deployed (and paid for) in a series of smaller steps to align with demand, rather than as a big, one-shot megaproject. It is telling that an International Energy Agency report published last year on the 1.1 billion people lacking access to reliable electricity barely mentions nuclear power. The breakdown of where the IEA thinks electricity for those lacking it will come from is also telling. For many of the poorest people seeking access to power, recreating the massive, centralized grids (and fuel distribution systems) of the developed world is a non-starter. Modular, local systems are more feasible. The U.S. isn’t sub-Saharan Africa, of course. But in an era of flat demand and increasing supply options, nuclear power faces a similar challenge.
Bloomberg 27th Sept 2018 read more »