Another nuclear plant will close for good on Monday
The Ft. Calhoun Station (FCS) is scheduled to shut down for good on Monday, October 24. The number of operating nuclear power reactors in the US will have been in the three digits again for a just one week.
That event will be a tragic shame for the surrounding community, for a gradually growing portion of the 700 people that were employed at the plant when the closure decision was made, for all of the people in the area where the air will be a little dirtier and for all of the people who are concerned about the long term effects of climate change driven by CO2 emissions.
The first employees to be laid off will include nuclear engineers, chemists and clerks. At the beginning of September, they received their 60 day notice that their jobs disappear on October 31, just one week after the plant shuts down for the last time.
Closing the plant eliminates a steady supply of 473 MW of ultra low emission electricity that has a low, predictable marginal cost if all goes well.
Cost increasing headwinds
All has not gone well in recent years for the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), the owner of the Ft. Calhoun facility. Too many unpredicted things happened that added unplanned costs at the same time that temptingly cheap alternatives became available.
There was a fire in a nuclear plant in Alabama that added a long term operational cost for fire protection.
There was an attack against several office buildings near the US East Coast that added increased costs for security guards, increased capital costs for new equipment and ongoing operational costs to maintain that equipment.
There was an earthquake and tsunami in Japan that knocked out electrical power long enough to permanently melt parts of the reactor core of three nuclear units. Reaction to that event added tens of millions of dollars of capital costs plus ongoing maintenance and operational costs.
The Missouri River, on whose banks Ft. Calhoun was built, flooded and threatened the plant. An inspection after that event revealed minor operational and management issues that ended up keeping the plant off-line and unproductive for three years. When the plant was finally allowed to operate, it was in the NRC “penalty box” of enhanced supervision to improve operational performance.
Isn’t OPPD a regulated utility?
Even though OPPD is a regulated monopoly utility that can distribute prudently expended costs among a captive base of customers, the company is a public utility owned by those customers. It has continuing pressure from its owners to keep rates low. Its board of director has stated a goal of supplying reliable power at a rate that is 20% lower than the rates in nearby service territories.
In light of that pressure the board is always looking for ways to keep costs under control. Cost control and predictability is supposed to be a key advantage for owning a nuclear power plant, but those haven’t been attributes that Ft Calhoun has consistently delivered.
As Ft. Calhoun’s operating costs increased and as it experienced a lengthy period in which it was not functional, wholesale electricity prices in areas surrounding OPPD’s service territory plummeted due to the combination of a glut-induced low price for natural gas and a growing supply of wind power with its nearly zero marginal cost.
Why is FCS closing now?
In the spring of 2016, after the final version of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan showed that it would provide zero credit to existing nuclear plants for producing power without CO2 emissions, the OPPD board of directors tasked its management staff to provide cost-informed options for its future portfolio. The managers hired an (ostensibly) independent consulting company to develop a set of scenarios with various generating alternatives and power purchasing options.
That company, Pace Global, whose letterhead proudly proclaims that it is a Siemens Business, produced a report titled Overview of Omaha Public Power District’s Generation Portfolio Analysis dated May 20, 2016 that concluded that there was no analyzed scenario in which keeping FCS open was an economically advantageous option compared to an increased reliance on purchased power, demand side management, power storage in chemical batteries and increased use of weather-dependent sources of power, mainly wind and solar.
Aside: I should explain why I used the word “ostensibly” to modify “independent” with regard to Pace Global. As a Siemens business, it has a corporate parent that is a major equipment supplier for natural gas and wind generation.
While Siemens was once a major nuclear plant supplier, it has made openly announced moves to reduce its involvement with nuclear energy, seeing limited opportunities in the sector. It’s quite logical to believe that the connection to Siemens influenced Pace’s assumptions for future price of important variables as shown in a series of graphs on page 4 of its report to OPPD. End Aside.
Less than a month after the board received the report from Pace Global, it voted to close FCS and provided the following summary of the factors that influenced their decision.
Market conditions are a major factor in today’s decision by the board. Historically low natural gas prices are a contributing factor; they reduce OPPD’s cost to generate electricity using natural gas. In addition, consumers are using less energy.
The final version of the proposed Clean Power Plan is another factor. It does not give carbon-free generation credit for existing nuclear plants such as FCS.
The board also looked at economies of scale. FCS is the smallest rated commercial unit in North America, based on accredited capability. Larger and multi-unit nuclear plants can spread costs over high levels of production.
Slow load growth and increasing regulatory and operational costs have led to the recent early retirement of several other U.S. nuclear generating stations.
OPPD President and CEO Tim Burke added, “As tough as this decision is, we cannot afford to ignore the changes happening around us. We must look to the future.”
Very soon after the board’s decision, OPPD passed the deadline by which it would have normally ordered a new batch of fuel. Without new fuel, the plant had a limited run time remaining. It began coasting down a couple of weeks ago; it was producing 81% of its full power capacity yesterday and will reach 75% before it is shut down on Monday.
I’ve tried to make contact with OPPD leaders through a contact form on the company web site, but I haven’t received any responses.
I wanted to ask if the board made any effort to find a buyer for the plant and the surrounding 660 acre riverfront site. I wonder if they had considered the option of retaining the plant in a shut down condition — like TVA did with Browns Ferry for a couple of decades. Finally, I was curious to find out if they were still confident that the natural gas prices used in the May 2016 analysis were still reasonable given recent market trends.
It’s worth noting that OPPD once began a project to add a second unit to the current site. It would have been a 1000 MWe Westinghouse 4-loop PWR. There’s plenty of land and water available for expansion; there’s even high ground only a few hundred yards from the river.
Though there is, in fact, a tiny sliver of a chance that the shut down decision can be reversed, I have been unable to find any evidence or even any hints that anyone is taking the necessary steps. Those steps include, but are not limited to, halting or delaying the action I consider to be the absolute point of nor return. Under the current trajectory, which seems unlikely to be disturbed, OPPD will submit the final document that will seal FCS’s fate sometime in mid November.
That normally single sheet letter will certify to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that all fuel has been removed from the reactor and that the license holder will never again operate the plant. After receiving that letter, the NRC will issue a license amendment that converts the current operating license into a “possession only” license under which OPPD will have 60 years to complete decommissions activities.
In order to begin operating again, a plant with a possession only license would need to undergo a new license application process and meet all currently imposed requirements for new plants. There is a higher probability for me to win a mega-millions lottery than for FCS to be restored after OPPD gives up its current operating license. (I have never purchased a mega-millions lottery ticket and have no intention of every doing so.)
The decommissioning fund is about $800 million dollars shy of the estimated $1.2 billion decommissioning cost, so OPPD will be charging its customers a fee in their bill that will be computed to build up the decommissioning fund to full requirements by 2033.
Though the closure plan came with a promise from OPPD to freeze current rates for 5 years, that promise has a limited term. I slso suspect that there are provisions within the promise that allow rate adjustments in the case of a fuel price increase that surprises the market.
I personally wouldn’t be surprised if gas prices rise Moreno quickly than expected, given the falling production in seven out of eight major shale gas resource basins along with the increased export of gas in the form of LNG and via pipelines to Mexico. Among gas market prognosticators, I’m in a minority.
Goodnight, sweet Calhoun. I will never forget our precious time together….replacing some of your major organs (Rx Head, SG’s and PZR) with the high hopes you would live a long and prosperous life.
Unfortunately, your extremely overbearing Mother (NRC) and your creepy, know it all, ridiculous suggestion spewing and all up in your business Uncle (INPO) had a different plan for you.
Possible correction suggestion: if you are referring to the Browns Ferry fire creating 10CFR50 Appendix R, Browns Ferry is in Alabama rather than Tennessee.
Thanks for the correction. Post updated. I’ll be deleting both your comment and mine in an hour.
Maybe the reason for closure is: All those people (and I know you Love People(puke)) that have to be paid to keep Fort Calhoun operational. The labor cost is just too high. How many would a coal plant have, maybe 100? A gas plant maybe 20? If Fort Calhoun was more automatic, without all the “wonderful people” it would probably still be operating and a coal plants shut down.
In this case, you’re right. A main reason that FCS has fixed costs that are too high is that its employee count is way too high compared to its power output. I suspect that it initially had a staff closer to 200 than to 700, but each of those cost ratchets that I mentioned in the article, plus several others, continually added jobs that needed to be done.
Because the additions were made in response to added regulations, cutting staff or improving productivity isn’t an option that was evaluated with any intensity.
Another thing that is puzzling: Fort Calhoun may be the smallest, but does it not produce more electricity that most typical size coal plants? Meanwhile, why would it be too small and then the companies like Westinghouse want to make Small Modular Reactors that are like 100 MW? How can that not be too small?
Why not keep the place as intact as possible, after all, they have 60 years.
Good question. The attraction of small modular reactors does not come from their limited power output, but from completely reengineering the plant to make it more simple to operate, protect and maintain. If the designs progress as planned, a 600 MWe, 12 unit NuScale power plant, for example, would have a substantially smaller headcount, greater operational flexibility, and lower ongoing maintenance costs.
I agree…..but Nuclear’s Mother believes the more babysitters the better (I’m mostly talking about how ridiculously overstaffed Security is) However, I believe Nuclear’s ultra low fuel costs make up for the difference when comparing the labor costs between coal and Nuclear.
It all depends on the specific fuel cost situation. There are times when prices are high enough to make even overstuffed nuclear plants into cash cows. The challenge is that few people predict that prices can simply return to their 2005-2008 levels anytime in the next dozen years or so.
@ Bonds 25,
I believe San Onofre, at its peak security staffing, had a security force of 400…not a number I actually saw, but one that was communicated to me and which I believe.
Words cannot describe how beyond ridiculous that is. That could have easily been decreased by a factor of 10 and nothing negative would ever amount from it. The strangle hold security has on these plants is a very sore spot with me.
Last paragraph: You wouldn’t be surprised about what?
Probably increased NG prices, right?
Question: Does the NRC have any mechanisms that would allow an operator to
put a plant in a suspended, but restartable mode, pending either a sale or the
resumption of favorable market conditions?
If not, I suggest that all readers lobby Senator Booker and others to offer the necessary legislation.
Actions such as these are bordering on the insane; they’ve already passed ridiculous.
There is no provision for mothballing a plant, but Browns Ferry experience shows that it is possible to suspend operations and maintain the plant in a state that would allow a future start-up. That would be a bit costly for a merchant plant operator, but a regulated utility might be able to justify the carrying cost as a hedge against future fuel price increases.
I explored the possibilities several years ago for ANS Nuclear Cafe:
Sounds like all they have to do is just not send that letter. Hopefully, the owner will also keep the place intact and the parts from “walking away.”
Average nuclear plant pays $22.4 million per year in regulatory fees. FCS never fully recovered from the flooding issue and the subsequent three year hiatus under the INPO and NRC Column 3 spell. The funny thing is, even with 700 employees for a roughly 500 MW unit, these days that doesn’t seem to matter; just ask Diablo Canyon employees how much sense their situation makes. Always on, non-polluting caseload electricity is getting no credit, so this trend will continue. Ridiculous.
Can you explain how you came up with your figure of $22.4 million? Are you talking about each unit or each site?
If each reactor paid $22.4 million, the NRC budget would be at least 22.4 10E6 x 100 = 2.24 10E9 or $2.24 billion. It’s just under $1.0 billion.
Recent article on the various fees, security requirements, etc.:
Also, this is an interesting read on our current demise from the R Street Institute. Wasn’t sure if you had seen this yet.
Your link provides a statement made by Obama in 2010, it interested me, so I googled it. Ends up it was excerpted from a speech he made, that was strongly supportive of nuclear energy. Heres the speech…
What I find curious is the amount of disdain I have read here for the “left”, or the “democrats”, painting them as the assassins of NE. Considering Obama’s stated realization that NE is a necessary component of any clean energy plan, what went wrong between 2010 and 2016? Considering, too, that the so called “right” is, almost across the board, pro fossil fuel, isn’t it possible that behind the scenes manipulation by the right may be more responsible for Obama’s failure to give NE a boost than the left is?
No, I dont see how that’s possible or even arguable. The political Left is ideologically anti Nuclear. No one can change the reality of that. Financial interests may also work to be anti nuclear at times but those are a major factor within both establishment run parties. The American mainstream press is also largely controlled by left leaning interests; from the major networks to the major sources of print media. Another undeniable bit of reality.
Greens/Progressives – “Renewable Energy: Invest non-renewable energy sources in the creation of self-reproducing, renewable energy systems. Use federal investments, purchasing, mandates, and incentives to:
– Shut down nuclear power plants. ( https://www.greenparty.org/Platform.php )
Democrats – The Democrats make no mention of Nuclear Power but fully support subsidizing “clean energy”, taxing fossil fuels and reinforcing regulatory oversight. They mention Nuclear Weapons multiple times and subsidizing natural gas and bio-fuels in other places like Africa. ( https://www.democrats.org/party-platform )
Republicans – “We support the development of all forms of energy that are marketable in a free economy without subsidies, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower. A federal judge has struck down the BLM’s rule on hydraulic fracturing and we support upholding this decision. We respect the states’ proven ability to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing, methane emissions, and horizontal drilling, and we will end the Administration’s disregard of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act with respect to the long-term storage of nuclear waste. We encourage the cost-effective development of renewable energy sources — wind, solar, biomass, biofuel, geothermal, and tidal energy” ( https://www.gop.com/platform/americas-natural-resources/ )
@John T Tucker
The mainstream media that you describe are major business enterprises led by some very wealthy members of the establishment. If you believe that their interests can be accurately described as “left” that in no way implies that they are the kind of. Liberals that I consider myself to be.
They are “fat cats” in exactly the same way as the fat cats that demand open borders, seek the lowest possible labor costs, and demand light regulation of their activities (with often heavy regulation on their competitors’ or rivals’ activities.)
I’m all for success, but selfish success really challenges my view of our responsibility as human beings.
It’s the difference between empty words and actual policy. The original “Clean Power Plan” had unambiguous incentives to shut down paid-for, zero-emission nuclear plants and replace them with NG-fired gas turbines.
Read ” by Siemens Business, produced a report titled Overview of Omaha Public Power District’s Generation Portfolio Analysis ” that Rod referenced above. Then explain to yourself why they shut down FCS, yet pump the same amount of money into “Green Energy,” at owners expense? While considering the fact that this causes the generation of about 2/3rds of that power to be generated by NG. OPPD is building the NG units now. Low efficiency one. They are converting old coal plants (that presently meet all regulations) to burn NG. All to meet the Obama CPP. OPPD is a Municipal (government) entity.
If ommission of comment about NE is evidence of opposition, the I would say that both sides of the aisle should be admonished and considered anti NE.
But the fact is, Clinton and Obama have both expressed, openly, support for NE. So, ommission of comment isn’t really a political fact. What baffles me, is the fairly consistent agreement with Rod, that fossil fuel interests have been instrumental in a conspiracy to stifle the usage of NE, yet the disagreement that the right is involved, heavily, in this conspiracy. The fossil fuel industry IS THE “RIGHT”. I read this constant litany here about how the drivebfor renewables is actually a drivevtowards drastically expanded usage of NG. Well, what side of the aisle is completely in bed with the corporations and lobbies that profit from this burgeoning use of NG? I have many high end customers that are in the oil industry. And I can assure you that not one of them is democrat, or liberal. It seems to me that this notion that the left is anymore anti than the right is based on partisan prejudice rather than analytical thought. Logic, and the economic agendas of the corporate backers of the two political sides, would cause one to deduce that the right has much to gain by increasing our dependence on NG energy production. Honestly, I think that partisan prejudices are hampering the ability for some of you to “think it through”.
Where would you place the Rockefellers, the Clintons, Al Gore, LBJ, the Podestas, Ted Turner, George & Cynthia Mitchell and the Udall’s on the political spectrum.
All of the are very interested in the continued success of natural gas.
With all due respect Rod. I think you are confusing Liberalism with Leftism (and Socialism) and Social Conservatism with General Conservatism. They are all very different, at least now.
I do not associate Liberalism with the current Democrats or our advocacy media.
There has been sweeping changes in society, huge shifts that have enveloped both parties, just in the last decade. I feel like you and POA to some extent are holding on to political allegiance out of habit, and perhaps negative historical associations, not necessity.
Im further “left” in Liberalism than probably anyone here, by far, in my personal behavior and beliefs. But when it comes to budgets, laws and codes made to be forced on others I have to drop aspects of my identity, my baggage and superstitions and go with what I believe is least intrusive, more purely reasonable and most liberally affirming of individuality, or at least most obtain-ably so.
There are many ways to limit excessive greed and those overly exploiting the system and still provide more opportunity for all Americans. No candidate argues against that now, except for the grossly imperfect “Libertarians” perhaps, and they are unthinkable disasters conceptually when applied to our present reality.
“Where would you place the Rockefellers, the Clintons, Al Gore, LBJ, the Podestas, Ted Turner, George & Cynthia Mitchell and the Udall’s on the political spectrum”
Rod, as I’ve commented here repeatedly, there is little on either side of the aisle that deserves praise. So your question, really, doesn’t make sense, in the respect that you want to know how I would label them politically. As I’ve commented too many times to count, the idea of political polarity between the two parties is a nurtured charade, designed to render the general population impotent to institute real change through concensus. As long as we bicker amongst ourselves along carefully scripted divisions, we will never be effective at achieving universal representation.
So your question really shouldn’t be a political question. It should be a question about what financial interests are represented by the people presented to us as being “the left”, and how it differs from the people presented to us as being “the right”. And bottom line, the powerful and gigantic monster known as the “fossil fuel industry” cares not who it bribes, and what the alleged party affiliation is of those whose pockets they line.
Look at Clinton’s policy advocations, presenting us with a “global energy matket”. Do you think its a coincidencecwhat is now occurring in Israel, at the same time we are opening a collective energy administration with them? When vast NG reserves are being discovered both in Israel, and the occupied territories? Does the so called left benefit? The right? No. The benefit is universally shared by the corporations that profit by no true partisan boundries. It isn’t about right versus left, in reality. And it is sheer ignorance to believe it is. It is about the obscene power that global economic powerhouses now excert on our “leaders”, disguised by the masquerade known as “partisan politics”. To present this dynamic as a partisan division only nurtures the ignorance, and gives people like Tucker and I an excuse to imagine differences, instead of searching for concensus and shared interests.
Btw, Column 3 or 4 equals about 4-5 years and easily $100 million to crawl out of. Just ask Palo Verde, Arkansas or Pilgrim.
I wonder if the profits derived from decommisioning, for various contractors, may be an added “incentive” for the plant closures. Is there any evidence of that, Rod?
Circumstantial. For example, our old friend Annie Gundersen pivoted to being an antinuclear consulting specialist when his decommissioning-focused employer realized that the wave of reactor closures expected in the 1990s would more likely turn out to be a ripple as the industry and the NRC figured out how to make license renewals reasonably predictable and affordable.
Gundersen has an interesting explanation of the circumstances surrounding his departure from NES, but my sources tell me that his job was already in jeopardy due to falling sales numbers. Here is Gundersen’s own description of NES (Nuclear Energy Services) from his resume.
“NES was a nuclear licensee that specialized in dismantlement and remediation of nuclear facilities and nuclear sites. Member of the radiation safety committee for this licensee.
Department of Energy chose NES to write DOE Decommissioning Handbook because NES had a unique breadth and depth of nuclear engineers and nuclear physicists on staff.”
He claims that he was “blackballed” from the industry after challenging his former employer and the NRC in court, but other sources tell me that there just weren’t enough jobs in his specialty to make him an attractive hire at the VP level he wanted.
Rod wrote “The decommissioning fund is about $800 million dollars shy of the estimated $1.2 billion decommissioning cost” but my brain can’t fathom why it should cost so much. I understand the spent fuel rods, with their very radioactive fission products, need special concrete storage casks that cost millions. But the rest of the plant is hardly radioactive, except for modest activation of material exposed to the primary cooling water and its possible contaminants. It can’t be that hard to set up work rules to prevent exposures exceeding the NRC 50 mSv/year limit. Even if so, it’d be cheaper than $1.2 billion to build robots wielding jackhammers and carbide-tipped saws to cut the plant to pieces and bury it. Is the cost driver the “ALARA” rule? As Low As Reasonable Achievable? Is $1.2 billion reasonable?
A major contributor to decommissioning costs is the “no safe dose” influenced standard for declaring a site to be clean.
The standard is a rather incredible 15-25 mrem/yr (0.15-0.25 mSv/yr) and there is constant pressure from opposition groups to lower it even further to 10 mrem/yr (0.10 mSv). That is an “all pathways” standard, requiring great rigor in both computing and actually cleaning.
The recent round of plant closings bring to mind one of my favorite Bob Newhart episodes – the one where his patient Katherine offers all manner of explanations and excuses for her problems. As Katherine presents each situation, Bob Newhart breaks in with a tart response of STOP IT! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw
No matter the history of how we got to where we are, and no matter the learned logic of past decisions, we are here now. Who will stand up and argue that we do not have a broken system? Will we then accept such brokenness as the basis for auctioning power in much the same way we auction surplus stuff at the neighborhood yard sale. Folks, we are dealing with billions of capital assets, national security and economic stability. In Bob’s own words, STOP IT! This is a time for bold leadership. Leadership that will no longer entertain excuses and conventional arguments. Simply STOP IT!
Any Takers? Or will May 2017 come and go with the predictable results, while we all wear our sad faces and share our condolences.
Refer to – In May 2017, PJM Interconnection, an organization that operates the biggest power market in the U.S., extending across 13 states and serving 61 million people, will hold an auction to award contracts to suppliers. This could decide the fate of a handful of nuclear power plants that have been struggling to make money amid competition from renewables and plants that make electricity from cheap natural gas. According to Bloomberg Intelligence, four of the nuclear plants submitting bids may not be able to supply power cheaply enough to make the cut. If they fail to win contracts, they may be forced to close, eliminating enough capacity to provide carbon-free electricity to power more than 4 million homes. – Bloomberg
And I will give even odds tha two more NPPs throw in the towel. TMI for one is just hanging on. But tha will make Green RFK Jr. and his NG supporters happy. That will help build out Obama’s 20% CPP goal. And the USA will end up with no gain in reduction of CO2. Then, the outages will start, like the one last month in South Australia.
Meanwhile, India and China continues on their path to double the use of coal by 2020 and again before 2040. Note, there are no penalties for a Paris accord signer not meeting the guidelines, just shaming. EU signers are also building out more coal. Seems they can not afford, economically, to meet the guides or pay out the “wealth distributions.”
A carbon tax is on the ballot in Washington State. if it passes there and other states copy Washington State fossil fuels will be more expensive and nuclear will be more competitive. Fort Calhoun should be mothballed.
Why is the decommissioning fund short of money? Who is responsible for enforcing the requirement for decommissioning funds?
By rule, FCS decommissioning fund is not short of money – the necessary funds just have not yet been collected from the captive customers. OPPD will continue to collect money from its ratepayers during the period in which the plant would have been operating — until 2033 — as planned. At the end of that period, decommissioning can begin. It does not have to begin immediately; companies have 60 years after the plan ceases operations to complete decommissioning.
I agree that FCS should be mothballed. It would be a useful hedge against carbon taxes and against the potential for a steeper than expected increase in natural gas prices.
Maintaining the plant’s integrity, including its QA records would be required in order to allow a future startup on the existing license. Though there is not a defined path to mothballing, it seems that there must be some kind of precedent in the Browns Ferry situation. As far as I know, TVA was not required to maintain its full operator training program or its operational staffing.
I do not have access to the information needed to produce a cost estimate. I am working on ways to provide a range of potential values for keeping the restart option open. If owners understand the costs and see the potential value, they can make a more informed choice.
You can rail about NG interests all you want but its wasted energy. NG process are not going up so without a CO2 credit like in NY and hopefully IL nuclear plants will close. It is the uneven playing field of paying a premium for wind/solar due to CO2 free credit and none for operating nuclear.
The only game is town is a level playing field for CO2 free generation. All energy should be focused on this effort.
This is a state effort at this time not federal. Neither presidential candidate has made this an issue at all.
Clinton endorses linking US grid to Mexico, Canada in third presidential debate ( http://www.utilitydive.com/news/clinton-endorses-linking-us-grid-to-mexico-canada-in-third-presidential-de/428720/ )
I haven’t seen any real talk of this policy. Or Clinton’s free trade “Green Economy” plans. Obviously some of it already happens. Coupled with more surcharges, taxes and regulation here, I really dont see how this isn’t the approaching end or at least the beginning of a long decline for US nuclear and a significant portion of US based generation. Steeper than what has been experienced up till now.
As I constantly say I dont much trust the US press and I think I have good reason. I am wondering how imports and exports to Mexico are stacking up in energy markets to evaluate my fears expressed above. Bloomburg seems to have been all about celebrating the opening of Mexican power markets as a boom to US producers in 2015. ( http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-24/blackstone-to-export-texas-power-to-newly-opened-mexican-market ). Then I dont see any recent numbers.
Bloomberg also made this statement “Electricity prices have plunged over the past year in the U.S. and demand has flattened as grid operators have turned increasingly to renewables for cheaper, cleaner power. ” which seems to be the biggest leftist energy advocacy whopper Ive read in recent years.
A table from up to 2014 shows perhaps a different trend. Table ( https://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_02_13.html ). Some errors in the numbers and stories could be the result of a change in 2013 in the way imports from Mexico were computed.
Their wholesale prices in Mexico are not as high as one would believe after reading the Bloomberg articles so I am wondering if some of the industry quotes were not in tight markets. ( http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=26932 ).
Mexico will be importing significantly more natural gas from the US soon.
You guys would understand what is going on here better. But also there is a seemingly strange push in the US as a exporter of raw materials and a importer of value added products. Exports are wonderful but this is possibly not the direction paying job-wise we need to be heading(?).
Can you answer the question you asked? How much would those boxers cost if they were manufactured in the US? Perhaps the real solution is for people to quit their quest for finding absolute bargains. Perhaps we can teach them the value of quality, workmanship and community building.
Though things have continued to change in the past 20 years, there was a time in my life when I managed a small US based plastic fabrication company that competed head to head with Chinese factories selling virtually the same product. We did not win every sale, but we were able to win enough to triple our sales volume over a three year period.
“Perhaps the real solution is for people to quit their quest for finding absolute bargains. Perhaps we can teach them the value of quality, workmanship and community building”
Truth is, Rod, for many people, looking for “absolute bargains” isn’t a luxury, it a necessity. Imagine trying to support your family on twelve bucks an hour, then ask yourself how diligent you’d be in your search for absolute bargains.
But I agree with you that appreciation for quality is a learned appreciation. In a perfect world you learn it by exposure to quality. But claiming quality isn’t the same as producing quality. So, a successful marketing campaign can actually teach an appreciation for “quality” that doesn’t actually exist. In the trades, particularly trades like mine that are providing the material aesthetics of quality living, often quality is merely a label, that really means nothing. Often “high end” is only “high end” because it costs more, and the buyer has not been actually been exposed to true quality. I can’t tell you how many “high end” homes I go into that are really built just like a common tract home, but the customer, uneducated about, and never exposed to, thinks they have a superior product.
But I’m rambling here. The truth is, if you offer four dollar boxers, they’re gonna outsell 8 dollar boxers. And, bottom line, ya can’t manufacture the four dollar boxers in the United States.
There are plenty of us who can afford to pay more for better products. Many employers can afford to produce their goods in the US and employ US labor, but prefer to make slightly higher short term profits by producing outside US, often with US raw material that has been shipped overseas.
Then there is the overhead associated with bringing it back to the US. It would not take much in the way of tariffs on many products to make domestic goods competitive with imported goods.
What it often takes is a desire to help neighbors as well as yourself.
Opinion: Workers will simply try to survive, rather than prosper, as tech takes over the economy ( http://www.marketwatch.com/story/workers-will-simply-try-to-survive-rather-than-prosper-as-tech-takes-over-the-economy-2016-10-24 )
New tech isnt making new jobs. The “Green Economy” will funnel money to outsourced production under closet pro TPP Dems.
Facebook has about 14,000 employees worldwide.
Twitter has 3,000 US employees.
For Comparison Kmart with its all its difficulties has 178,000 US employees as of 2016.
At under 500 MW it’s sadly not surprising that it wasn’t economical to keep running. Hopefully with the CCP, and maybe some more nuclear-friendly emissions regulations, we’ll see this site reused in the near future.
Maybe on the other side of Route 75 next time…
I came across two rather unflattering stories regarding nuclear related to this closure. I would not call them fair, honest or unbiased. But that is whats out there.
Waste, Families Left Behind As Nuclear Plants Close ( http://www.npr.org/2016/10/24/498842677/waste-families-left-behind-as-nuclear-plants-close )
Exelon Profit Falls on Nuclear Power Plant Closures
Still, company raises its full-year earnings guidance ( http://www.wsj.com/articles/exelon-profit-falls-on-nuclear-power-plant-closures-1477487821 )
Something from both articles – electricity demand has been flat in the region for a decade.
@John T Tucker
I suspect that home and commercial ENERGY demand has not been as flat as electricity demand. At least one of the local gas utility companies (Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD)) has been working hard to convince people to switch their appliances, water heaters and HVAC supply from electricity to natural gas.
I’m sure that half of the advertising dollars they are spending are wasted, but as the old saying goes, nobody can tell which half is ineffective. The other half is probably working just fine.
Neither electricity nor gas are perfect. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. It is the responsibility of the companies that want to sell them to help customers make the “right” choice. That’s called marketing.
If Exelon is betting on a kind of economic floundering in the region it might explain why they are not interested in maintaining this site.
Gas is going to go up (I saw the Mexican pipeline story in your twitter feed), and I still dont really understand why they close this plant. I will check on how they price power and I just am reading this which means there is plenty of capacity in reserve.
“Why is Dynegy idling Illinois coal plants? It’s more complicated than ‘the war on coal'” ( http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/why-is-dynegy-idling-illinois-coal-plants-it-s-more/article_7a1bd217-a83d-579b-93a8-d17b86de27c4.html )
I think that region may be in serious trouble economically as generally the first thing to come on, and the last to go off, are the lights. Also they could be playing the market for more lower on the pubic radar and easily ramp-able sources I suppose too. And all of the above.
And this too which makes me rather angry :
British Columbia leads the charge in electricity exports, says NEB ( https://www.biv.com/article/2016/3/british-columbia-leads-charge-electricity-exports-/ )
North American clean energy accord to headline Three Amigos summit in Ottawa ( http://www.canadianmanufacturing.com/environment-and-safety/north-american-clean-energy-accord-to-headline-three-amigos-summit-in-ottawa-170993/ )
When Clinton mentioned her “Dream” of a cross border energy free trade zone I should have known they were just trying to sell it to the American people. They had already agreed to and were building it.
Trudeau Hints Clean Energy Pact Could Mean More Canadian Exports To U.S ( http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/06/29/trudeau-obama-clean-energy-canada-hydro_n_10745332.html )
“it made specific reference to cross-border transmission projects, including the Great Northern Transmission line, which will carry Manitoba hydro into Minnesota, and the New England Clean Power Link, which will hook up to Quebec hydro.”
Its not a conspiracy, it WAS a energy coup.
Worried about “leftists”, eh?
So they have taken over the WSJ?
some of your pithy comments:
“The American mainstream press is also largely controlled by left leaning interests; from the major networks to the major sources of print media. Another undeniable bit of reality. ”
The media is owned by leftists???…well, when you consider Hillary and the Democratic Party to be commies I guess you have a point…
under your tinfoil hat.
You’ll note I said leftist and not “Liberal” – that’s a common mistake many make. Liberal would imply at least som type of fair evaluation prior to presenting a biased perspective or opinion.
” In 2013, a 59% majority reported a perception of media bias, with 46% saying mass media was too liberal and 13% saying it was too conservative. The perception of bias was highest among conservatives. According to the poll, 78% of conservatives think the mass media is biased, as compared with 44% of liberals and 50% of moderates. Only about 36% view mass media reporting as “just about right” ” – Gallup Politics
So even the perception of bias is rather strong even on the left side, and by a overwhelming majority of Americans. Of course more recently trust in the US media has plummeted across the board with the only constant of some satisfaction remaining being perceptions of affiliation to party. ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/brandindex/2016/10/05/trust-in-media-low-and-falling-2/#1077ed0a703f )
” Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” has dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history, with 32% saying they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. ” – Sep 14, 2016
Thats a awful lot of tinfoil hats. Isn’t it ?
You know, John, watching the news right now, I can’t help but wonder what we are being set up for. If a candidate can convince a whole huge bloc of the population that their vote isn’t counted, and that the media is lying to them, what kind of crimes and excesses could be practiced by someone in custody of the power of the White House? Any crime, reported on, could just be presented as a media lie. Any unfavorable result at the ballot boxes, could just be discounted as the result of a rigged system. I think it may be too late to counteract what is happening. Wake up, man. Can’t you see what is happening?
Electricity imports from Canada now account for 1 or 2 pct of our total use but that generation accounts for 10 percent and above of their total generated.
All in all, over the last couple of years there is more than 18000 MW in new or refurbished generation and 8000 km of transmission line development in Canada.
Besides the increasing imports the issue already entering the local political arenas :
Quebec hydro project powers New Hampshire campaign ( http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-commentary/quebec-hydro-project-northern-pass-powers-new-hampshire-campaign/article32550550/ )
“Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu strongly backs Northern Pass in its current form. His Democratic rival, Colin Van Ostern, however, wants the state to rely more on wind and solar power.” — lol – so the choice is high power lines and/or more wind and solar (in New England HAHAH!!) – they should have stuck with and even expanded Vermont Yankee. What a total cluster.
The regional power prices in that area are just too depressed at the moment.
Considering that there’s an enormous agricultural industrial plant just a mile north of FCS (I forget the AG company’s name), it’s a shame that someone didn’t propose a “process heat” conversion for FCS. If they could ship heat a mile north for a few years, it would bridge the time until electric prices went back up.
This is a news article about the Blair, NE Cargill corn processing plant.
I’m pretty sure that’s the facility you’re talking about.
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