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No matter what your feelings about nuclear may be, or your political party, some common sense needs to be applied to the discussion of the US nuclear future. Nuclear power is ruinously expensive, not even including the cost of cleaning up "operations as usual." Should a major accident happen in the US- almost the entire cost would be born by the taxpayer. The ways of disguising the limited liability, and complete socialization of the nuclear industry, are many. But, you don't have to dig too far to find that no-one can afford it.
Bernie Sanders and Ryan Alexander l Reader Supported News 13 April, 2012
he US is facing a $15 trillion national debt, and there is no shortage of opinions about how to move toward deficit reduction in the federal budget. One topic you will not hear discussed very often on Capitol Hill is the idea of ending one of the oldest American welfare programmes – the extraordinary amount of corporate welfare going to the nuclear energy industry.
Many in Congress talk of getting "big government off the back of private industry". Here's an industry we'd like to get off the backs of the taxpayers.
As, respectively, a senator who is the longest-serving independent in Congress and the president of an independent and non-partisan budget watchdog organisation, we do not necessarily agree on everything when it comes to energy and budget policy in the US. But one thing we strongly agree on is the need to end wasteful subsidies that prop up the nuclear industry. After 60 years, this industry should not require continued and massive corporate welfare. It is time for the nuclear power industry to stand on its own two feet.
Even when operating "normally" the costs of nuclear power are astronomical. Now Japan faces a new tier of nuclear costs: damages. And with this question comes that of liability. The scale of the disaster is not yet clear because it is ongoing, but the financial cost to Japan and the Japanese people looks to be enormous.
Reuters l Rachel Armstrong 4 April, 2011
TEPCO and government to handle claims
TEPCO and government to handle claims
* Hundreds of thousands of claims expected
* Claims could top $130 bln in worst case - BofA-ML
* Government likely to set up central compensation fund
Japan's nuclear crisis is likely to lead to one of the country's largest and most complex ever set of claims for civil damages, handing a huge bill to the fiscally strained government and debt-laden plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co .
Lawyers say the size of the claims could be the biggest in Japanese legal history and the lack of precedent for dealing with these incidents means it is still not clear how the claims will be handled.
"Potentially, this could be one of the largest civil claims historically in Japan because of the number of people affected," said George Gibson, a partner at law firm Norton Rose in Tokyo.
Japan's government expects the earthquake and tsunami to cost up to $300 billion in material damage, but the ultimate cost will be far bigger as economic activity shrinks due to power shortages and compensation claims mount.
Given Americans’ increasing anxiety over made-in-Washington socialism, it’s a wonder that the nuclear power industry has escaped scrutiny for so long. The federal government socializes the risk of investing in nuclear power while pri-vatizing profits. This same formula drove the frenzied speculation that cratered the housing and financial markets. What might it cause with nuclear power?
We got a taste three decades ago. Congress grew infatuated with the promises of nuclear promoters. It overrode the risk assessment of private capital markets, and expanded subsidies for nuclear projects to $0.08 per kilowatt-hour—often more than investors risked or than the power could be sold for. This seduced previously prudent utilities and regulators into a nuclear binge that Forbes in 1985 called “the largest managerial disaster in business history.”
Threefold cost overruns amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars. Three-fifths of the ordered plants were abandoned. Many others proved uncompetitive. Steep debt downgrades hit four in five nuclear utilities. Some went broke. Through 1978, 253 U.S. reactors were ordered (none since). Only 104 survive. Two-fifths of those have failed for a year or more at least once.
New nuclear plants, we’re assured, are different—novel enough to merit technology-demonstration subsidies, yet proven enough that investors can rest easy. They’re allegedly so much safer than deep-sea oil drilling that we needn’t fret, yet so risky that one major nuclear operator insured itself eleven times more against nuclear accidents’ consequences than its potential liability to the public. New reactors are supposedly so cheap they crush competitors, yet so costly they need subsidies of 100 percent or more...
Sara Stroud l SolveClimate Sep 16, 2010
Government subsidies of nuclear power plans could hitch U.S taxpayers to a technology that suffers out-of-control costs while pushing aside renewable energy development, according to a study released last week by the Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment.
"This analysis shows the greatest danger is not that the U.S. will import French technology, but that it will replicate the French model of nuclear socialism," said Mark Cooper, the report’s author and a senior research fellow for economic analysis at the Vermont Law School Institute. "Nuclear power will remain a ward of the state, as has been true throughout its history in France."
“It’s highly unlikely that the problems of reactor construction will be solved by an infusion of federal loan guarantees,” Cooper said. “U.S. policymakers should resist efforts to force the government into making large loans in terms that put taxpayers at risk in order to save a project or industry that may not be salvageable.”
Why is it that despite the huge financial sink hole created by nuclear power, the US (and the rest of the world) seems dead set on going forward with its so called "nuclear renaissance?" This "renaissance" has already set us back billions of dollars, and caused major public health, and environmental problems.
During the last 10 years, the nuclear industry spent $600 million on lobbying and donated $63 million in campaign contributions to convince lawmakers that nuclear power is the answer to America’s energy problems.
This is the same industry that promised Americans that atomic power “would be too cheap to meter.”
This is the same industry that Forbes described in 1985 “¤... as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale. The utility industry has already invested $125 billion in nuclear power ... only the blind, or the biased, can now think that most of the money has been well spent.
This is the same industry that gobbled up $151 billion in subsidies from the U.S. government from 1943 to 1999.
So what has changed to convince American taxpayers it’s time to bet on nuclear energy? $600 million on lobbying and $63 million in campaign contributions.
So, money. They spend a little bit of their money (compared to their profits), not to get the plants going and producing this "cheap source of clean energy," but to get us to spend a huge amount of our money to do it for them.
Then, they spend a lot more of their money, not investing in this technology they are promoting, but in lobbying governments so that taxpayers will bear the cost of any risk that ensues from using their technology.
And finally, they spend a bit more of their money, not cleaning up the dangerous, extremely long-lived, radioactive waste they have created, but in more lobbying to ensure that the government (and hence the taxpayer) is fully liable for solving the long-term storage of forever deadly radioactive waste problem. In case you are wondering why we don't just force them to implement this solution themselves- it's because there isn't one. Which would lead a sane person to the conclusion that we need to stop making more of it.
Their reasons for doing this should be self-evident. The real question should be: what are our reasons for allowing it?
Worries about a repeat of dramatic cost overruns prompt appointment of nuclear price watchdog for Georgia's new Vogtle plants, but at the same time company officials block access to meetings.
More of the same old thing is happening in Georgia. Everyone, including the power company, is worried that the staggering cost overruns of the original plant might re-occur. That project finished 9 years late and $8 billion over budget. The company managed to pass all but $1billion of that onto the ratepayers, but it doesn't want to have to swallow even that $1 billion in this new venture.
Appointing a watchdog to protect consumers seems like good sense but "already, Jacobs has had to fight for access. Reactor designer Westinghouse still won't let him into its meetings with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And Georgia Power initially offered Jacobs only monthly briefings, banning him from monthly status meetings at the site, where problems would likely surface."
And, the current PSC hasn't shown much appetite for telling Georgia Power "no." "We're at the beginning of what could be a very long and costly road," said Angela Speir, director of the consumer group Georgia Watch. "I'm always hopeful that the commission will make the right decisions. But if their recent Vogtle vote is any indication of the future, it doesn't look good for the consumer."
Jacobs, himself, has taken set backs in stride. But that may not bode well for Georgia consumers.
PSC approves FPL rate increase for nuclear projects- A troubling decision in Florida, as Florida’s Public Service Commission voted 3-2 to increase Florida Power & Light customers’ bills by $31 million to further develop the company's nuclear projects.
Despite evidence that the company deliberately mislead consumers and the commission with inaccurate information, accusations of forgery in a complaint against one of the commissioner's who had called for further investigation, and “a complete absence of credible evidence upon which the commission could determine what would constitute reasonable costs,” Florida has gone ahead with the plan to saddle consumer's with FLP's cost overruns.
Now, the state and consumers will have to seek a refund while the company banks the money in the interim. The determination that this is an ethics , rather than criminal, issue seems dubious given the accusations of forgery and falsifying documents.
THE ECONOMICS OF NUCLEAR REACTORS: RENAISSANCE OR RELAPSE? - FRENCH NUCLEAR PROGRAM IS PLAGUED BY FAST-RISING REACTOR COSTS AND "CROWDING OUT" OF RENEWABLES
Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School has written a new study de-bunking the “French nuclear miracle.” The French system has given US policymakers nuclear envy, but the truth is that their system isn't working any better. Instead:
“The problems in the French nuclear industry are similar to the problems that have long afflicted the U.S. industry, so there it no reason to believe that things will change if the U.S. follows the French path. If the U.S. nuclear industry is relaunched with massive subsidies, this analysis shows the greatest danger is not that the U.S. will import French technology, but that it will replicate the French model of nuclear socialism. Nuclear power will remain a ward of the state, as has been true throughout its history in France; a great burden on ratepayers, as has been the case throughout its history in both France and the U.S.; and it will retard the development of lower-cost renewables alternatives, as it has done in France and portions of the U.S.” Mark Cooper, in:
Three major findings of the study were that: nuclear reactors are not cheaper in France; that building reactors in either country crowds out energy efficiency & renewable energy; and that the U.S. would have even more to lose in terms of renewables than France if it followed France’s model of more nuclear power.
Cooper’s study, which VLS is publishing today at http://www.vermontlaw.edu/energy/news, is titled “Policy Challenges of Nuclear Reactor Construction: Cost Escalation and Crowding Out Alternatives. Lessons from the U.S. and France for the Effort to Revive the U.S. Industry with Loan Guarantees and Tax Subsidies.”