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  1. Heard your pod cast. I wrote the DPO to draw attention that the NRC gave PG&E a pass on Tech Spec operability and design bases. As an NRC inspector, I don’t (and shouldn’t) have a “horse in the race” wither or not the plant shutdown. My job was to ensure that the regulations were met.

    PG&E’s statements were misleading. The plant safe shutdown earthquake peak ground acceleration of 0.4 g (per the FSAR), not the 0.75 advertised by the utility. PG&E submitted a license amendment request to change it, by the NRC refused to accept it.

    1. @Michael Peck

      Thank you for your comment. Is it your position that the rest of the agency is not following the regulations and that you are the only one who is correct?

      I have a deep respect for most of the people at the NRC. On the other hand, I believe that not everyone fully understands how to correctly interpret the below words:

      The NRC licenses and regulates the Nation’s civilian use of radioactive materials to protect public health and safety, promote the common defense and security, and protect the environment.

      Forcing a well-built, well-maintained, and well-operated nuclear plant to shutdown because of a technical disagreement does nothing to protect public health and safety, promote the common defense and security or protect the environment. There is no evidence that Diablo Canyon is unsafe in the event of an earthquake that could strike it. There is abundant evidence that whatever power source would replace Diablo Canyon while lawyers and politicians debate its continued operation would be less safe and more environmentally damaging.

      As far as I know, there has never been a nuclear plant anywhere in the world that experienced significant damage to its safety related systems as a result of accelerations from earthquakes, even in the case where the earthquake was more intense than the design basis. (I’ve looked very hard to find any examples; so did a long term study group whose name escapes me right now.)

      1. Just how would 2000MW of storage with solar and wind power be LESS safe and MORE damaging to environment than a risky nuclear power plant on a coast with many active faults underneath it?? This statement borders on fantasy.

        1. @Stefan

          Because your proposed replacement does not exist? That is the definition of fantasy, otherwise known as an unobtainium fueled power plant.

          I cannot find any examples in which an earthquake has damaged the safety-related systems of a nuclear power plant.

        2. Well for one, you’ll need a lot more than 2000MW of solar and wind to generate the same amount of energy as Diablo Canyon because of capacity factors. 25% is the average for California solar, so lets call it 8000MW of solar and wind capacity. Those windmills and solar panels are going to take up a huge amount of space which could otherwise be in a natural state. Is that good for the environment? If you choose to keep the generating capacity at 2000MW, you’ll be buying the power from grid operators that are either burning natural gas or coal. Is that good for the environment?

          Now lets say Diablo Canyon experiences a global record Earthquake, like the one that hit Sendai/Fukushima: what happens? The reactor automatically shuts down. If backup power is lost for too long decay heat will cause excess production of hydrogen and could release a small quantity of gaseous fission products, the rest would remain within the containment vessel. Those fission products don’t pose a credible health threat, it’d be very difficult to be exposed to more radiation than a typical flight attendant receives every day. So what?

          1. For reliable power, you also need something like 4 GW-days of storage. That would be a lot of batteries. More likely, it would be a sizable hydroelectric pumped-storage facility, and any reservoir carries some risk of dam failure. Note that the Fukushima earthquake did no immediate damage to the nuclear power plants, but it did damage as many as 745 reservoirs in Fukushima prefecture. The failure of the dam at the Fujinuma reservoir resulted in eight deaths in a village downstream (though that reservoir had no hydroelectric power plant. See: http://www.hrljournal.org/archives/522).

          2. @Jim Van Zandt:
            Have you a link for that “2-days storage = reliable power” estimate? If valid, I think it would be based upon some wind distribution properties that I’d very much like to see.

            Thanks!

          3. @Casey who writes:

            If you choose to keep the generating capacity at 2000MW, you’ll be buying the power from grid operators that are either burning natural gas or coal.

            =================

            Comment: PG&E operates Diablo Canyon. PG&E has gets zero electricity fro coal fired power plants on its transmission and distribution lines. They do have natural gas power plants.

            1. @jaagu

              PG&E might not have any coal fired generators in its system, but its own marketing information is a little less absolute about whether or not there is coal burned to produce its “purchased power” segment. http://www.pgecurrents.com/2014/03/26/pge-surpasses-20-percent-renewable-energy-milestone-on-track-for-2020-goals/

              According to the pie chart on that page, nuclear is 22%, natural gas “and other fossil fuels” is 28%, and “purchased power” is 17%. If Diablo Canyon was shut down, most of its output would presumably be replaced by additional power purchases, often from out of state generators. It would be difficult to exclude the possibility that coal would be part of the mix.

          4. @Jaagu:
            Rod is correct: California still imports about 3GW capacity from out-of-state coal. See KQED: California’s Dirty Secret. Hence, being the season, California Gets Coal For Christmas, where (in the comments) it is argued the carbon cost of closing SONGS, with output equivalent to Diablo Canyon, is precisely the carbon equivalent of an equal amount of electric energy generated by coal. Not the wind+solar+ng some activists claim are (or will) replace it. Nor the fracked gas that SCE/PG&G actually purchase to replace it. But the equivalent amountof coal those (allegedly) cleaner technologies could have displaced had they not been shunted off on a fools errand to displace clean, viable nuclear.

          5. “The reactor automatically shuts down. If backup power is lost for too long decay heat will cause excess production of hydrogen and could release a small quantity of gaseous fission products, the rest would remain within the containment vessel”

            I really don’t understand how such a positive assertion can be made. There are simply too many variables and possibilities involved in the case of massive epic ground movement. Fact is, it is virtually impossible to predict the amount and the nature of the resultant damage of a massive earthquake. Although I am becoming convinced that NE is a desirable and safe alternative to fossil fuel, I do not believe it makes sense to roll the dice with the placement of nuclear reactors. Putting nuclear power plants where massive earthquakes are an inevitability strikes me as being asinine to the extreme. And its not just nuclear powerplants. I would say the same about chemical plants, tank farms, and refineries.

            1. @poa

              You have less confidence in engineers than I do. Designing structures, systems and components that can retain their safety related functions even in the face of a massive ground motion is well proven.

              As a former nuke sailor, I’ve often thought that the earthquake related concerns over nuclear plant siting have been exaggerated. After all, we managed to engineer nuclear plants to survive shock testing and the pitching and rolling associated with encountering storms at sea.

          6. @Rod

            The following California state government report is from 2012:

            Pacific Gas & Electric does not have any coal fired power imports.

            Southern California Edison (SCE) and Los Angeles Dept of Water & Power (LADWP) have owned shares of some big coal fired power plants in Arizona (Navajo), Utah (Intermountain) and New Mexico (Four Corners) for decades.

            SCE and LADWP have agreed to divest from importing any electricity from those power plants. Some long term contracts have already been sold. Others expire in the next 10 to 15 years. The following report gives a summary of the planned and actual termination of coal generated electricity in California:

            Electricity supplies from existing coal and petroleum coke plants represented about 8 percent of the total energy requirements to serve loads in California during 2012. A little over 93 percent of this coal-based energy came from power plants located outside California.

            The state’s Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) prohibits California utilities from signing new contracts that would increase the generating capacity or extend the life of any baseload generating facility that exceeds 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions per megawatt hour (MWh). All existing contracts with coal-fired generating facilities provide baseload energy supplies that exceed emissions limits defined in the EPS. As these contracts expire, they cannot be renewed or extended with another long-term contract.

            http://www.energy.ca.gov/renewables/tracking_progress/documents/current_expected_energy_from_coal.pdf

          7. Rod….

            I have confidence in engineers. I am confident that they can design safe machinery that can withstand predictable natural events.

            I do not have confidence in their level of ESP powers, or their ability to compete against Mother Nature’s awesome strength. One need only venture out into any given natural landscape to see an example of what mother nature can do. And in some instances geological change is not the result of eons of erosion or earth movement. Sudden cataclysmic geological change is fact of nature. You cannot convince me that even the most competent engineer can go one on one with God and prevail.

            Building nuclear plants in areas that hold a strong likelihood of experiencing such change makes no sense, if only from an economic standpoint. How much has the Fukushima event cost TEPCO and the citizens of Japan?

          8. @poa

            So because of God and Mother Nature we can’t have nuclear power plants in California? Why do I have to pay more for electricity, and contribute more to global warming that is going to hurt our child, our children’s children and their children as well, just because of your interpretation of the will of various higher powers?

            Really I think the way your viewing things is totally skewed. The Tōhoku earthquake earthquake was the biggest ever recorded in japan. The damages were huge.

            On 10 February 2014, a Japanese National Police Agency report confirmed 15,889 deaths, 6,152 injured, and 2,601 people missing across twenty prefectures, as well as 127,290 buildings totally collapsed, with a further 272,788 buildings ‘half collapsed’, and another 747,989 buildings partially damaged.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_T%C5%8Dhoku_earthquake_and_tsunami

            Yet all you can see is a nuclear reactor problem. It’s like if a fire came and destroyed your house and all that you cared about was your burnt lawn, then you started calling it the lawn disaster of 2014 and decided we couldn’t have any more lawns because they might get burnt as well. It’s freaking madness.

            It’s so upsetting to me that public policy is being decided by such ill reason. Isn’t humanity supposed by be an intelligent form of life? Where is the reason of mankind, our vaunted intellect, when it is truly needed? Sometimes I despair of us.

            Let me tell you. When it comes to horrible disasters like the one that happened in Japan the least of my concerns is nuclear power plants. If such a disaster happened here in San Jose, and if I was lucky enough to survive, and if Diablo Cannon had a meltdown similar to Fukushima, and if the wind happened to be blowing in my direction there is no way I’ll be evaluating to some government run facility. The whole evacuation thing was a travesty. Barely a handful of people needed to be evacuated, but instead they evacuated thousand of people who would have been better of staying in their own homes. Sometimes there’s nothing to fear but fear itself, and when you let it rule you all of us loose.

          9. “Barely a handful of people needed to be evacuated, but instead they evacuated thousand of people who would have been better of staying in their own homes”

            Thats bullshit. So many of you want to blame the evacuation on government over-reaction to the so called danger of the radiation. But the fact is, the entire infrastructure of the local area was completely destroyed. Even if there was no nuclear power plant at all, the evacuation still would have been necessary. Your premise that only a “small handful” of people needed to be evacuated is absurd. I wonder, how many injuries, illnesses, and deaths would have occurred had these thousands upon thousands of people tried to stay in an area completely devastated by the tsunami. You suggest they could have stayed in their own homes. Uh, what homes?

            1. @poa

              Thats bulls–t. So many of you want to blame the evacuation on government over-reaction to the so called danger of the radiation. But the fact is, the entire infrastructure of the local area was completely destroyed.

              Check out the area maps for the ordered evacuation as a result of drawing circles around the Fukushima power plants and then compare the results to the areas that were damaged by the wave washing in from the coast.

              There were numerous villages and small towns where there was little or no damage. Of course, after three years without human maintenance, those areas are about as inhabitable as Pripyat.

          10. So many of you want to blame the evacuation on government over-reaction to the so called danger of the radiation. But the fact is, the entire infrastructure of the local area was completely destroyed.

            Are you really so blind that you cannot grasp the difference between coastal areas inundated by the wave, and inland areas where no water intruded where people were nevertheless FORCED from their homes by government edict?

            There’s no functional difference between willful ignorance and stupidity.

          11. @poa

            I agree with Rod and Engineering- poet. At any rate I’m thinking of writing a blog post about this topic. I think I’ll title it something like “Why Fukushima made me start hating the Media” Sigh, It’s a shame I’m so freaking slow at writing. There are a lot of things I want to say. You post seems a little inconsistent to me. You deny that the radiation scare was responsible for the evacuation, but you seem to think Fukushima was a big disaster (why else would you imply we shouldn’t build nuclear power plants on the ring of fire). If it was such a big disaster why wouldn’t it be responsible for the evacuation?

            At any rate I think it could have been handled a lot better. Risks should have been explained to the residents around Fukushima in a calm rational manner. Those who wanted to stay should have been allowed to stay. Those who wanted to leave should have been given the option to leave in a safe and orderly fashion. Aid should have been provided to help the people who stayed and the people who left.

          12. Given the pervasive seismic nature of our planet, restricting hazardous industrial activity to seismic-free regions would more than just cramp our style. The practical approach is to just design for it, and prepare. That’s what engineers do.

            Since this thread began I’ve come across two related articles. The first, a recent note on plant life-time extensions in Armenia:

            “In December 1988, a powerful earthquake, resulting in the deaths of at least 25,000 people, occurred in northwestern Armenia. The Metsamor nuclear power plant 75 km from the epicentre continued operating normally with no damage, but both units were subsequently shut down in 1989 due to safety concerns regarding seismic vulnerability.”

            These Russian V-270 400 MWe reactors commenced operation in 1976 and 1980. They were the first Russian plants designed to be built in a region of high seismicity and were modified accordingly. Armenia derives one-third its electric power from nuclear, the remainder from hydro and gas. In May 2014 the government approved construction of a new VVER-1000, starting in 2018.

            More striking is How Onagawa Responded at the Time?, which sets a standard for technical exposition for general audience. Note the organic “green” techniques employed to stabilize the Onagawa seawalls.

            “The steps toward safety never come to an end.That’s why the only thing we can do is to learn from failure and from success, continuing on with the unflagging efforts toward reduction of danger and greater safety. I see this as the wisdom of humankind.” -Wako Tojima, proud to be Japanese.

        3. I love these naive renewables-only outbursts. Gives us a chance to flip an envelope over.
          “2000 MW” of solar and wind, backed up with storage, needs to actually equate to an NPP’s output and reliability in this context. California’s Alta wind farm is 1320 MW, 30% capacity factor, and 13 sq km. Topaz solar farm just opened – 550 MW, 22% capacity factor, 25 sq km. We can use multiples of Altas and Topazes to generate the electricity, and so for one to back up the other in maximum (nameplate) output alone – especially as we know only one can possibly be generating at night – we need minimum 1.5 Altas and 4 Topazes. That’s 126 sq kms.
          To ensure that crucial reliability, we need to include 2000 MW-worth of storage. Tom Murphy has done this for us already at http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/ 7 days of assured electricity despite underperforming renewable sources needs about a thousandth of what he calculated: about another Hoover Dam, but taller, with 8.5 sq km of reservoir. This storage would need to be owned and operated in-house by the owners of the generators, otherwise dependable baseload generation would almost always be more economical for storing kWhs at times of assured low demand, to sell more profitably during assured high demand.
          But wait, there’s more, because now we need to add extra Altas and Topazes to “charge” the dam. How many? There’s no point investing in another Hoover Dam if it can’t be kept full in case of weeks like this https://atomicinsights.com/northwest-wind-takes-week-long-vacation/ so we need to start multiplying those Altas and Topazes. This comment will get too long and boring if I try to do so and the pumped storage affects the capacity factors anyway, but even just doubling the generator capacity is at least 260 square kilometres of sunny, windy and hilly land required.
          All this without even providing economically viable power supply, if Weißbach’s analysis is indicative http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/08/1221552/-GETTING-TO-ZERO-Is-renewable-energy-economically-viable#
          (I realise I have ignored many factors like transmission land use and conversion and transmission inefficiencies.)

          1. Thanks for the links,Oscar, and the analysis. One can estimate the amount of unreliable generation needed to make load simply by dividing by capacity factor: Assume only wind. You need 1.5 Alta’s to meet nameplate 2GW peak with 33% cf, or 1.5/33% = 4.5 Alta to make 2GW average load. ESA estimates pumped hydro efficiency at 80%. 4.5/80% = 5.6 Alta’s to make reliable 2GW of baseload power. Plus your Hoover Dam, of course.

            The actual real-world one-of-a-kind accept-no-substitutes Hoover Dam had a nameplate capacity of 2 GW and plant factor of 24% for 480 MW average. That’s the world’s one-time largest concrete structure not quite making the same average load as Vermont Yankee, or peak load what Diablo Canyon supplies pretty much 24/7 (less refueling time. DC is two reactors: refueling is staggered and scheduled for the off-seasons). Except what with the drought Lake Mead has dropped volume and head, so Hoover has been de-rated to only 1.6GW peak.

            No, the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow. You don’t always get as much rain as you’d like, either.

    2. Maybe you don’t have a horse in the race but I do. This directly affects me since I live in the bay area. I have to tell you I’m not happy that people are fighting to raise my electric rates.

  2. Rod:

    I will get beat on for this one, but that’s OK.

    I’m not a numbers guy, but your figure of proven natural gas reserves of 2700 trillion cubic feet was kind of interesting. Then you followed it up with usage of 28 trillion cubic ft per year.

    2700 trillion cubic ft / 28 trillion cubic ft per year gives 96 years.

    Looks like cheap available energy for many years.

    However, then your guests mentioned the closure of many coal plants. These will need to be replaced by other “reliable” sources of electricity. Per the following link,

    http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/print/volume-21/issue-5/features/bring-on-the-boom-times.html ,

    there is a definite 70,000 MW of power coming on line. How much of that proven reserve will be used by these new installations? I’m going to assume they run all year (they won’t).

    Per another link – Government source

    http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=45&t=8

    Natural gas = 0.00786 Mcf (1,000 cubic feet) is needed for a kilowatt hour of electricity to be produced.

    So 7.86 Mcf will be needed for a megawatt hour.

    How much gas to run those new power plants for a whole year?

    70,000 MW X 8760 hours / year = 613,200,000 Mwhr

    613,200,000 Mwhr X 7.86 Mcf per MWHr = 4,819,752,000 Mcf / year of natural gas or
    4,819,752,000,000 cubic feet.

    You could call this 5 billion cubic feet for the 70,000 Mwatts. That is a lot of gas. Yet, it hardly takes a bite out of the 2700 trillion cubic ft reserve.

    The government link says there is only 2.2 trillion cubic ft.

    2,214 trillion / (28 ) = 79 years of natural gas supply

    If all those reserves can be tapped, will there be more nuclear plants needed in the foreseeable future? How much will transportation, load growth and other factors lessen that supply? How much will be exported?

    Will we all be grandparents before the US needs another nuclear plant in lieu of a cheaper natural gas plant?

    1. Well… You could call this 5 billion cubic feet. Others might prefer 5 trillion. Either way you run up against the eternal problem of humanity and fossil fuels: we burn them like there is no tomorrow because we can’t plan that far in advance.

      80 years is but the blink of an eye compared to the (roughly) ten thousand year age of human civilization. But we are under no obligation to leave any readily-accessible fossils for the kids.

      Any more than we have any obligation to leave them the same habitable climate we grew up with.

      Yes, we will all be grandparents before the US needs another nuclear plant in lieu of a cheaper natural gas plant. What part of “The Me Generation” don’t you understand?

      [/irony]

      1. Well, I understand it a bit better now thanks to Wikepedia:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Me_generation

        In respect to future generations, if a less expensive power source is constructed (gas plants), it is the equivalent of giving the United States (& Canada) an economic shot in the arm. Economic health is a great gift to those growing up. A healthy economy will allow their parents a better job than Wal-Mart or McDonalds. Increased prosperity will allow the children to have access to better education and health care. These are not the values of the “me” generation, but their forebears who weathered the hard times of the great depression.

        Since this is a nuclear site, I was hoping for some better arguments for the choice of nukes instead of gas. The argument of the variability in natural gas prices has been made, but long term contracts and regulation would solve that one. The other problem has been poor supply. The solution is better pipeline supply which is presently being constructed and CNG storage.

        Global warming is a valid argument. Natural gas largely produces carbon dioxide and water vapor. Less CO2 is produced than coal plants so the gas guys actually use this in their advertising. Anybody who has ever owned a gas stove knows it burns quite cleanly. I’m using it right now to heat my home and believe it to be safe.

        The fracking criticisms seem to going nowhere and may be somewhat moot.

        Gas turbines can ramp up and down. As has been pointed out on this site, they can be used to back up emission free wind energy. Averaging the two sources out has a lower source of CO2 than gas alone and extends the natural gas reserve. I’ve pointed out on this site that there are less people needed to run gas generation sites than nuclear. Baseload plants can be more efficient than 50% with co-generation vs 40% for coal and 33% for nuclear.

        Reading this post, you may think i’m anti-nuke. I’m not. I’m simply asking why would a CEO decide to build a new nuclear plant (including LFTRs) instead of using natural gas?

        1. He wouldn’t, and natural gas is what’s being built. Land of the Bottom Line.

          But. Point Vogtle and VC Summers are also being built. In regulated markets. Their CEO’s have convinced their PUC’s that maybe sometime over the next 30 – 60 years gas might not be so cheap, maybe they should hedge some bets. We’ll see. These things aren’t complete yet, and there have been delays. Ring them up again in another four years.

          Cheap gas. Today’s price still doesn’t internalize cost of carbon dioxide emission. Or methane, which is not so easily measured. Maybe sometime the next 30 – 60 years we’ll get around to that. Or maybe not — no obvious rush.

          I think Rod has observed that home cooking and heating, at 90+%, is much more efficient use of limited fossil fools than to burn them for electricity at 40 – 50%. It’s also meaningless to compare their thermal efficiency with that of nuclear, unless limited cooling truly is an overriding concern. Overriding global warming.

          Bottom line: burn all the cheap gas now, the strong economies we leave for the kids will more than make up for the more expensive gas then, and lack of atmospheric capacity in which to dump any of it. We won’t be there for them to tell us otherwise.

          And everyone has a share!

        2. Reserves doesn’t mean you can shove a tap into the ground and take out however much gas you want. Fracking is expensive. Right now it cost more then it’s making. The whole shale thing isn’t unsustainable at low prices. Now that oil prices are low, and gas prices are low oil/gas companies are mothballing a lot of their projects. It’s only a matter of time before supply goes down and prices shoot up again.

          An interdisciplinary team of geologists, economists and engineers examined these shale basins on a well-by-well basis and found that with $4.00 per MMBtu, 70 percent of the wells were commercial failures. To put it simply, producers were making less money than they were putting in.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexis-crow/america-fracking-saudi-oil_b_6091942.html

        3. You said: “I’m simply asking why would a CEO decide to build a new nuclear plant (including LFTRs) instead of using natural gas?”
          A fair question, but why not ask them? They are virtually all reachable by an easy “contact” link on their company web site. That is, if you really want to know.

          1. @mjd

            You are joking of course. They will ignore your question if you are not their customer. They will ignore your question if it in any way shows they made a wrong decision.

            Recently the Georgia Public Service Commission heard the testimony of their independent oversight experts – who analyzed the remaining cost and schedule of the partially completed Vogtle 3&4 nuclear plants in Georgia and compared it to building equivalent sized CCGT power plant. The result of their analysis showed that it is more economic to abandon Vogtle 3&4 nuclear plant and build the CCGT power plant than it is to complete the nuclear power plant.

            This testimony has not changed Georgia Power’s mind about proceeding with their expensive and delayed nuclear power plant. Since the ratepayers are on the hook for the extra years and extra billions of dollars and the PSC is in the pocket of Georgia Power there is no alternative needed.

          2. mjd: jaagu has a good answer about asking the CEO.

            This post is about nuclear power and grandparents. Mr. T. Boone Pickens was on TV. Mr. Pickens is a well respected expert on the oil and gas industry. He is also a grandparent. Mr. Pickens and Evan think alike. T. Boone Pickens thinks the price of oil and gas is going to go back up. He’s seen these patterns before. We’ve all seen the price of a barrel of oil jump around.

            Since the guys drilling for gas aren’t making money, the price of gas will go up.

            When they get all those gas turbines built, the demand will go up. I guess I left off some zeros and maybe 5 trillion cubic feet more not billion. This ought to have some effect on price. (up)

            Mr. Pickens is pushing for big trucks and trains to burn natural gas. This thing has started already. American industry is recovering. It will burn more gas. More demand – price up.

            Evan stated that it isn’t an easy thing to get that gas out of the ground. I would think fracking is harder to do than the old drilling. Something harder to do is more expensive to do. As the easy deposits get depleted, the rest will be harder to get. Fracking shale wells don’t last as long as conventional. This costs more money and must be paid for.

            A few years back nuclear plants were cheaper than gas to operate. With the volatility in gas prices and expected gas price hikes, nuclear may be the better choice in the long run. There is no lack of fuel (spent fuel and thorium). After construction, costs can be expected to be relatively constant.

            That CEO who stays the course with Vogtle may have more sense than one who changes course mid stream.

          3. @jaagu

            Do you have a link to this “independent experts” report?

            Then we could examine what assumptions they made about such things as the long-term price of natural gas, etc.

          4. I think that this is the document that jaagu is referring to.

            http://facts.psc.state.ga.us/Public/GetDocument.aspx?ID=118469

            I notice right away that it is from 2009. We are 5 years down the road now and the only delay I recall is when the subcontractor put the rebar in a few millimeters different than the engineering plans, but according to building codes. That delayed the project 6 months.

            I would also say that once built, the marginal cost of electricity from these plants would be about 2.4 cents / kWh, if they are anywhere close to the average in the USA for NPP. That price will stay consistent for the next 60 years or so. A pretty good decision on the part of the public utility.

            Sure, a CC plant will cost less to build, but the cost of fuel ….. why that get’s passed on to the drum roll please the CONSUMER. So as a consumer would I prefer a slightly higher bill today to pay for a NPP that will make sure that my power stays cheap for the rest of my days? Yep, a pretty good bargain for my pocketbook.

          5. @David: see Delays and More Costs for Plant Vogtle Nuclear Expansion. These things are now looking like $6.7 billion items, completion dates December 2017 and 2018. $6.7 billion per dispatchable zero-carbon GW is still a bargain compared to the alternatives, though nuclear opponents are not likely to see it that way. As you note, once online the marginal cost of production should be about 2.4 cent/kWh, good for at least sixty years and perhaps a century.

          6. Below are snips of testimony of PHILIP HAYET of the Oversight Staff regarding the latest review of Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear power plant construction cost and schedule progress and remaining work to be performed. Due to major problems with the construction of the large modules by CB&I, Georgia Power is now unable to develop a firm Integrated Project Schedule for Vogtle 3 and 4. Here are some major points of the testimony:

            1. [Oversight] Staff reviewed Georgia Power’s cost-to-complete economic evaluation and performed its own cost-to-complete analysis. [A “cost-to-complete” analysis ignores costs already incurred (“sunk cost’) and only considers the remaining or prospective cost of the Project when performing an economic evaluation against alternative generation options. This is the appropriate analysis at this stage because under certain circumstances Georgia law allows the Company to recover all prudently incurred sunk costs from ratepayers if the Project is halted.] Staff agrees with the Company that continuing to construct the Units is more economic than discontinuing construction and building an equivalent amount of combined cycle gas turbine (“CCGT”) capacity [using a high cost of natural gas]. However, [Oversight] Staff’s cost-to-complete results indicate it is less economic to continue due to Staff’s use of a lower natural gas forecast. [In other words the Oversight Staff says that using more a realistic lower cost of natural gas results in the abandoning the nuclear project in favor of CCGT.]

            2. [Oversight] Staff continues to estimate that during the construction period the Company [Georgia Power] would incur an additional cost of approximately $2 million per day for each day of delay. The $2 million per day amount consists of additional construction and capital costs, financing costs, and higher fuel production replacement costs. It is assumed the Company will seek to recover the additional revenue requirements associated with these costs from ratepayers both during the construction period and over the operating lives of the units.

            Georgia Power performed four sets of analyses, with each set reflecting different delay assumptions compared to the Commercial Operation Date (“COD”) of April 1, 2016 for Vogtle Unit 3 and April 1, 2017 for Vogtle Unit 4.

            The analyses are:
            • 21 month delay case – This is the Company’s latest expectation of the In-Service dates of Units 3 and 4. This assumes the Units are delayed until December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2018, respectively.
            • 45 month delay case – The Units are delayed to December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2020, respectively.
            • 57 month delay case – The Units are delayed to December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2021, respectively.
            • 69 month delay case – The Units are delayed to December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2022, respectively.

            The report also noted that litigation between project developers [Georgia Power] and contractors (Westinghouse and CB&I) to determine who should pay for changes mandated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other general delays remains unresolved. The dispute involves $600 million for shield building design changes and $74 million for structural modules design changes. Also under dispute is $244 million stemming from a late construction and operation license and limited work authorization.

            http://www.psc.state.ga.us/factsv2/Document.aspx?documentNumber=155941

            At $2 million per day the ratepayers will need to pay the following extra money:

            1. 21 month delay (30×21=630days) – pay extra $1.26 billion
            2. 45 month delay (45×30=1350) – pay extra $2.70 billion
            3. 57 month delay (57×30=1710) – pay extra $3.42 billion
            4. 69 month delay (69×30=2070) – pay extra $4.14 billion

            http://www.powermag.com/construction-monitor-longer-delays-are-likely-for-vogtle-reactors/?hq_e=el&hq_m=2996333&hq_l=7&hq_v=17b51a8303

          7. @jaagu
            Thanks for the summary and links. Using the “best and most optimistic” estimate of $1.26 billion for the 2GW adjusted nuclear capacity and 10% discount rate, one gets a levelized cost increase of 0.76 cent/kWh over the initial 30 year amortization period.

            Now, 0.76 cent/kWh is not insignificant, but depending on the price of gas, its not the end of the world either. Thank you for your efforts trying to determine Georgia Power and Oversight Staff’s long-range gas futures: whoever gets that one right is in the wrooooooong business!

          8. Jaagu,

            So the delays are from NRC required changes? Who would think that this was necessary? I think the NRC should carry the costs, or at least provide a cost benefit analysis of why those 1.2 billion in changes should be made.

            Also, I am VERY skeptical of NG prices remaining low in the long term, especially if more and more CC plants are built. The current prices and reserves are based on the current use. If we continue to build electric generation using natural gas we will push up the price of that gas. A much better use of NG is transportation. Let’s replace gasoline and diesel with NG, either CNG or LNG. Most of Asia is doing this already and the air is much cleaner where this happens.

            I am totally convinced that the NRC is the NO-nuclear Remove it all Commission.

            I am also convinced that the whole move toward renewables is so that people pumping oil and NG can regain the market share they lost to Nuclear in the 1970’s and to coal in the 1980’s and 90’s WoW Shazam! The answer to all our problems is to throw away all the money we spent on existing infrastructure and buy NEW Shinny NG CC plants!! I am sorry, but I am not convinced by the low cost NG arguments, not when I see them actively marketing for new expanded markets and not when a drop to 60 dollars a barrel can drive many of them out of the market.

            Finally the costs of NG do NOT include the piping infrastructure that needs to be built and the cost of those pipes rivals the costs of a full NPP. By the way, how safe are those old Natural gas pipelines? Would the NRC regulators have passed them as safe?

          9. David,
            Jaagu didn’t write the Oversight Report, he’s merely summarized it. By their very political nature, these committees must have some representation for nuclear skeptics. I’d hesitate to criticize NRC’s objections before learning what they are, why they were made, and why now.

            Its beginning to resemble a normal situation. And with litigation pending, we might not get the answers we want Real Soon.

            Merry Christmas.

          10. Ed,

            “I’d hesitate to criticize NRC’s objections before learning what they are, why they were made, and why now.”

            I am not sure if I agree with you. I cannot imagine objections from the NRC that are worth 1.2 billion dollars. I am becoming more and more skeptical of their work. Not of the individuals who work there under the current policy constraints, but with the design of the system and it’s ability to add enormous costs with very little benefit, if any benefit. Their inability to change the nature of their regulation process is disheartening in the least and infuriating at the most.

            I guess a bit of those emotions that Meredith was recommending are spilling out here.

            I still think that if the NRC were to allow / accept applications for new designs based on a set of safety principals rather than on a specific design, with a three year commitment to finish the process, it would not be a Nuclear renaissance but a Nuclear tsunami. Make the Safety principals similar to the safety that other power industries meet and you will replace every energy source with nuclear in about 15 to 20 years.

            1. @David

              Make the Safety principals similar to the safety that other power industries meet and you will replace every energy source with nuclear in about 15 to 20 years.

              That might be a bit on the optimistic side, but even if it would take twice as long as you imagine, it would still impose a major realignment of wealth and power. Those who dominate in the hydrocarbon economy wouldn’t dominate the actinide economy, the skill sets and capital assets required are too divergent.

          11. @JohnGalt

            You have no real skills in reading between the lines or in understanding historical inference. For example, one of the skill sets that enables enormous wealth accumulation in the hydrocarbon economy is the ability to do business with despots and tyrants that happen to control access to major reservoirs of natural resources.

            In the actinide economy, capitalists cannot steal or use force to control the key resources — unless you think that creative, high integrity people can be bought and sold.

  3. Grandparents for nuclear energy. I am proud to have been a part. Last night was great. The time flew by. We did not agree on everything, but authentic independents never do. Not bad for a bunch of old f**ts.

    1. Hi Evan,

      I read your post but did not find an easy way to comment without signing up for a service I don’t care to use. You make some good points. Thanks for your work on this.

  4. Our society is more accepting of risks from airplanes and cars because members of the general public receive a direct and tangible benefit. Yes, nuclear energy gives us safer and cleaner electricity, but our toast tastes no better whether the toaster receives its power from nuclear or natural gas. We need to find ways to reach the public about nuclear benefits that are not as direct as airplanes and cars.

    As for the grandchild issue, if we wait until the last cu ft of gas is gone to rebuild nuclear, there will be rather few experienced nuclear professionals left to what will then be a massive reinvention of the wheel.

    1. @Robert Margolis

      If we wait until the gas is gone, we would have a hard time gathering and processing the physical resources (steel, concrete, copper, etc) required to build new nuclear plants.

  5. Ed Leaver:

    Oops, looking at this again, I slipped a few places. Thanks.

    2,214 / 33 = 67 years of natural gas

  6. @turnages and David

    The testimony is from 2014.

    Below are the links to the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) website. You can see that Georgia PSC has done nothing in their newsroom section to alert the public or media about the cost and schedule problems of Vogtle 3&4 construction:

    http://www.psc.state.ga.us/newsinfo/newsroom.asp

    Buried in the details of testimony the truth is exposed:

    Docket: 29849
    Filed Date: 11/21/2014
    Received Date: 11/21/2014
    Company Name: Staff
    Description: Testimony of Philip Hayet, E. Cary Cook and the panel of William R. Jacobs Jr., Ph.D and Steven D. Roetger
    Attachment: Cover Ltr.11 VCM.zip

    http://www.psc.state.ga.us/factsv2/Document.aspx?documentNumber=155941

    Below are snips of testimony of PHILIP HAYET of the Oversight Staff regarding the latest review of Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear power plant construction cost and schedule progress and remaining work to be performed. Due to major problems with the construction of the large modules by CB&I, Georgia Power is now unable to develop a firm Integrated Project Schedule for Vogtle 3 and 4. Here are some major points of the testimony:

    1. [Oversight] Staff reviewed Georgia Power’s cost-to-complete economic evaluation and performed its own cost-to-complete analysis. [A “cost-to-complete” analysis ignores costs already incurred (“sunk cost’) and only considers the remaining or prospective cost of the Project when performing an economic evaluation against alternative generation options. This is the appropriate analysis at this stage because under certain circumstances Georgia law allows the Company to recover all prudently incurred sunk costs from ratepayers if the Project is halted.] Staff agrees with the Company that continuing to construct the Units is more economic than discontinuing construction and building an equivalent amount of combined cycle gas turbine (“CCGT”) capacity [using a high cost of natural gas]. However, [Oversight] Staff’s cost-to-complete results indicate it is less economic to continue due to Staff’s use of a lower natural gas forecast. [In other words the Oversight Staff says that using more a realistic lower cost of natural gas results in the abandoning the nuclear project in favor of CCGT.]

    2. [Oversight] Staff continues to estimate that during the construction period the Company [Georgia Power] would incur an additional cost of approximately $2 million per day for each day of delay. The $2 million per day amount consists of additional construction and capital costs, financing costs, and higher fuel production replacement costs. It is assumed the Company will seek to recover the additional revenue requirements associated with these costs from ratepayers both during the construction period and over the operating lives of the units.

    Georgia Power performed four sets of analyses, with each set reflecting different delay assumptions compared to the Commercial Operation Date (“COD”) of April 1, 2016 for Vogtle Unit 3 and April 1, 2017 for Vogtle Unit 4.

    The analyses are:
    • 21 month delay case – This is the Company’s latest expectation of the In-Service dates of Units 3 and 4. This assumes the Units are delayed until December 31, 2017 and December 31, 2018, respectively.
    • 45 month delay case – The Units are delayed to December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2020, respectively.
    • 57 month delay case – The Units are delayed to December 31, 2020 and December 31, 2021, respectively.
    • 69 month delay case – The Units are delayed to December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2022, respectively.

    The report also noted that litigation between project developers [Georgia Power] and contractors (Westinghouse and CB&I) to determine who should pay for changes mandated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and other general delays remains unresolved. The dispute involves $600 million for shield building design changes and $74 million for structural modules design changes. Also under dispute is $244 million stemming from a late construction and operation license and limited work authorization.

    1. @jaagu

      Can you provide any additional information about the natural gas price scenarios that you describe only as “high price” and lower “more realistic cost” of natural gas?

      Projecting natural gas prices is fraught with risk and assumptions, even in the relatively near term. A few weeks of unseasonably warm weather can make a dramatic impact on expected prices over a several month long period. In the case of the Vogtle analysis, the expected price of natural gas is dependent on supply-demand scenarios that are directly impacted by the decision itself. Replacing the output of the under construction nuclear units would require a steady input of about 400 million cubic feet per day or 131 billion cubic feet per year (assuming a 90% CF for the nuclear plants.) That increased demand would last for 60 years.

    2. Jaagu,

      “more a realistic lower cost of natural gas results in the abandoning the nuclear project in favor of CCGT.”

      Care to provide some numbers for that “realistic lower cost”?? Would that “realistic lower cost” last for 60 to 100 years? I frankly doubt it. In fact, if I was going to live that long I would place a good bet that it will not be low for that period. On the other hand, most of the cost of Nuclear is in operations and maintenance. Operations are a very high cost with current LWR because the NRC requires an enormous amount of paperwork and a huge security force. Without these external requirements the marginal costs would be amazingly low.

      Also, the capital costs for NPP would be reasonable if the NRC was regulating to an outcome rather than to a design. That outcome should never be measured by an amount of radiation but by the degree of safety to the public. As long as Nuclear power is safer than other forms of energy – say Natural Gas – then no regulations would be needed. How about them apples?

      1. @David

        You are making some wild statements without any facts.

        1. Natural gas CCGT power plants are being selected by utilities all over the world because they are flexible, reliable, economical and efficient. They are also just as safe as a NPP. I have never heard of an operating CCGT power plant having an accident that killed people, but I have heard about many accidents that killed people at operating NPPs.

        2. The NRC is not the cause of the Vogtle construction delays. The delays are due to major construction errors by Shaw and CB&I. You need to read read and understood the testimony and news articles over the last few years about the construction problems instead making up stuff.

        The AP1000 is supposed to be modular construction to improve long construction schedule. The problem is that CB&I (previously Shaw) for several years now can not produce the required large modules in the factory on schedule and meeting design requirements.

        Stupidly some defective modules were shipped to the Vogtle site, but they could not be installed because of the construction errors. CB&I is now trying to fix those construction errors in the field instead of at the factory.

        Georgia Power can not come up with a schedule for the completion of the power plant because CB&I is having difficulty developing a schedule for fixing those construction errors in the field.

        3. Your ideas about NPPs not needing all the current regulation are irrational. I do not hear any utility executives or nuclear power experts claiming that nuclear power plants are over regulated. NEI praises NRC for cooperating with the nuclear industry.

        1. Are you talking death from industrial accidents or radiological exposure? If the latter there have been zero deaths at a us commercial NPP. If the former I am sure that there have been IA death at CCNG plants and we know that the pipelines that are necessary to feed them can cause catastrophic death and destruction so I’m not sure of your point.

          1. @Sean McKinnon

            You are not comparing apples to apples. I am discussing and comparing all accidents onsite at operating CCGT power plants and NPPs.

            My point is that operating CCGT power plants are as safe or safer than NNPs.

            Care to prove me wrong?

              1. Here is a thought-provoking follow-up to the recommendation to ban gas blows after the Kleen Energy accident on Feb 7, 2010. OSHA has not issued a standard to prohibit the practice, operating under the assumption that the industry will voluntarily use air or other non-flammable gases for pipe cleaning.

                An ASME paper republished at http://www.energy-tech.com/article.cfm?id=32237 makes me believe that is wishful thinking.

                You can read the paper for yourself, but most project mangers will be sorely tempted to use a discouraged, but not prohibited procedure that can be completed in 75 minutes when the option is an encouraged, but not required, procedure that requires nine 11-hour days to complete.

          2. @jaggu

            It’s easy to win arguments if you simple dismiss all facts that disagree with you. The fact is Natural Gas requires pipelines, and pipelines sometimes have problems (the deadly kind). You can’t wiggle out of it. Natural gas causes fatalities.

          3. Pipeline safety in the United States has increased in recent decades, but incidents involving natural gas pipelines still cause an average of 17 fatalities and $133 M in property damage annually. Natural gas leaks are also the largest anthropogenic source of the greenhouse gas methane (CH 4 ) in the U.S.

            http://sites.biology.duke.edu/jackson/est2014.pdf

          1. @Rod

            While I agree that some delays were caused by the NRC’s aircraft impact requirement, I remain firm on the position that the majority of the delays in the past and present are due to construction errors. Your article ignores the problems with modules.

            Here is an article about the Vogtle construction problems from July 2014:

            Quality and cost problems have cropped up again, raising questions about whether nuclear power will ever be able to compete with other electricity sources. The first two reactors built after a 16-year lull, Southern Co.’s Vogtle plant in Waynesboro, Ga., and SCANA Corp.’s VC Summer plant in South Carolina, are being assembled in large modules. Large chunks of the modules are built off-site in an effort to improve quality and avoid the chronic cost overruns that all but killed the nuclear industry when the first wave of plants was being built in the 1960s and 1970s.

            The difficulties producing modules are one factor that caused schedules to slide. The first of the two new reactors at each site in Georgia and South Carolina were supposed to be operating in 2016, but that timetable has now been pushed into 2017 or early 2018. In Georgia, Southern Co. expects to spend $646 million more than the originally budgeted $6.1 billion on its share of the project.

            Joseph “Buzz” Miller, a Southern Co. executive tasked with building the nuclear plant, thinks building in modules can still work, despite the recent trouble. “Has it for the first units resulted in a lot of time savings? No,” he said. “But does it have promise? Yes.”

            http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2014-07-26/promises-easier-nuclear-power-plant-construction-fall-short-new-round-building#comment-form

            1. @jaagu

              There have been time-consuming issues with the module construction and with interpretations of concrete code requirements. I maintain that those issues fall into the category of “expected, but unpredictable” first of a kind issues for which experienced planners include contingency provisions.

              The improvements made for Vogtle unit 4 and Summer unit 3 support my interpretation.

              The Aircraft Impact Assessment imposed a multi-year delay. It also burdened the engineering groups and leadership that might have avoided the basemat error with devising and defending an inventive new way of assembling an impact resistant shield building. The end result of the effort is arguably a better, more resilient design, but it took a long time with a substantial litigation effort to get there.

              My bottom line is that the rule change AFTER the initial AP1000 design certification and AFTER the contracts for Vogtle and Summer were signed and submitted to the public utilities for review SHOULD NOT be the basis for condemnation of the nuclear reactor construction industry.

              Since few, if any, other observers of this saga bother to mention the starting line hold imposed by the federal government, I don’t feel the need to expend much effort describing the other FOAK issues.

          2. Thanks Rod. WNA had a brief article on AIA’s AP1000 Impact four years ago, and some of the design changes required.

            But lemme git this strait about that Aircraft Impact Assessment: Its okay to move the goal posts before the snap. And moving the posts after the kicker’connects is illegal procedure. So its that magical Charlie Brown moment between the two, that is still up in the air?

            Seriously. Given that there are but four reactors significantly impacted by the Impact Assessment, but those at a combined cost north of $5 billion and two years delay to the entire nation free world’s nuclear program, wouldn’t a prudent cost-benefit analysis have just grandfathered Vogtle and VC Summer in, and amended

            (From Final SER Related to AIA to U.S. ABWR Design Certification):

            Under 10 CFR 50.150, applicants for new nuclear power reactors are required to perform an assessment of the effects on the designed facility of the impact of a large, commercial aircraft. Using realistic analyses, applicants must identify and incorporate into the design those design features and functional capabilities to show, with the reduced use of operator action, that (1) the reactor core remains cooled or the containment remains intact and (2) spent fuel cooling or spent fuel pool integrity is maintained…

            with (addenda)

            …or in the alternative and for Vogtle Units 3 & 4 and VC Summer Units 2 & 3 only, to show that such hypothesized large commercial aircraft impact is beyond even remote plausibility.

            1. @Ed Leaver

              IMO – there was a careful cost/benefit analysis made that clearly indicated the harm that would be imposed on the nuclear industry by making the seemingly innocuous decision to apply the aircraft impact assessment rule to the first two new projects in 35 years.

              Unfortunately, that analysis was not performed or understood by “the good guys,” they probably still don’t understand why anyone could possibly want to purposely erect costly hurdles in front of their life’s work.

        2. @ jaagu,

          The Kleen energy explosion in Connecticut killed 6 workers when they used natural gas to clean out a pipe during the final preps to bring the plant on-line.

          The government has yet to change the regulations that allow the use of a flammable, explosive gas to clean out pipelines.

          http://articles.courant.com/2014-02-09/news/hc-kleen-energy-osha-fines-20140209_1_gas-blows-raymond-dobratz-peter-chepulis

          If accident of that severity had occurred at a nuclear power plant, the NRC would have issued standing orders to every nuclear power plant to suspend that type of operation immediately and force the nuclear utilities to develop a new process.

          Sen Boxer would have held hearing after hearing to disparage both the NRC and the owners of every nuclear power plant in the US.

          The numerous anti-nuclear groups would have filed lawsuit after lawsuit claiming every nuclear power plant should be shutdown immediately even though no release of radiation would have occurred and the public would not have been harmed.

          So you have stated several times now that numerous accidents have occurred at nuclear power plants where workers have died yet I know of no accident in recent history where 6 workers died either in one accident or even various accidents combined. The most recent accident was at ANO where one person was tragically killed during an industrial accident and eight were injured. That accident could have happened at a coal plant, natural gas plant or even an wind tower since it was a crane failure not a plant failure that caused the death.

          Additionally as Evan discusses, natural gas requires constant delivery of fuel. That means natural gas plants must include the pipelines to do an apples to apples comparisons with nuclear power plants. And to really have an apples to apples comparison, then the mining accidents for uranium would need to be included.

          After adding up all those data points, natural gas power plant will have a higher accident rate the nuclear power on a per kwh basis.

          If you have data to prove those statements wrong please feel free to correct me.

          1. One gas turbine plant had an accident before it was even operational. That does not make gas turbine plants more dangerous than NPPs. Can you come up with another gas turbine plant that had a gas explosion that resulted in death?

            The gas turbine power plants can not logically be held responsible for all gas pipelines and accidents on those pipelines in the country. Less than 30% of natural gas is used for electrical power generation.

            Pipelines to gas turbine power plants are not considered part of the power plant. The cost of building these pipelines are not paid by the power plant – they are paid by the gas company so that they can sell gas to the power plant for profit. The gas company recoups the cost of the pipeline with long term contracts for gas. So how can a power company be held responsible for pipelines not in their ownership?

            For NPPs why do you limit the hazards to uranium mining? There is a long and costly road from mining to processing to shipping to enrichment to fabrication of nuclear fuel assemblies.

            Operating NPPs also use highly combustible fuels on site – hydrogen, natural gas, diesel fuel oil, etc. Have you looked at those accidents?

            Electrocution is a common worker injury at power plants. Have you looked at those for gas turbine plants versus nuclear power plants? NPPs have ten to twenty times as much electrical cable and equipment than gas turbine plants with much more opportunity for injury. Have looked at those accidents?

            You also have not looked at the injuries during construction. NPPs are bigger, heavier, and more dangerous for workers during construction than gas turbine plants. Have you looked at those accidents?

            As you did no like my boundary of comparison, you need to come up with a logical boundary for comparing the injuries and costs of building and operating gas turbine power plants versus NPPs.

          2. Jaagu,

            Perhaps I am delusional. Or perhaps I do not fear low levels of radiation.

            Yes “The world wide response to Fukushima has been more safety is required – not less safety. Worldwide review and upgrade of NPPs to incorporate Fukushima lessons learned have been conducted and modifications are being made. Just look at all the NPPs in Japan that are being modified or scrapped.”

            But why? The UN studies that were done have concluded that there will be practically NO health effect from the radiation released. So what I am saying is that I am NOT delusional but that the responses to low level radiation around the world ARE delusional and are in opposition to the best science on the matter.

            “SOARCA is rough calculation, and it has many short comings. SOARCA is only applicable in the US. Fukushima did not turn out like SOARCA predicts – Fukushima disaster did not take long for fuel melting, hydrogen explosions, containment failures, and release of large quantities of radiation”

            Yes, actually it did take a long time for the fuel to melt, it was a matter of hours and days, which for an industrial accident is a very long time. There was plenty of time for an evacuation. They hydrogen explosion was a long time after the Tsunami that flooded the site.

            You are a bit amazing in dismissing SOARCA so easily. Why do you do that? Do you believe that radiation is uniquely dangerous? Especially low levels of radiation?

          3. @jaguu,

            You brought the subject of deaths and industrial accidents up: but I have heard about many accidents that killed people at operating NPPs.. You pointed the finger at nuclear power as possibly being the worst of the worst compared to other power generation sources apparently because radiation is present and because of the large size of current nuclear power plants. And then you only provided a series of what-ifs:

            For NPPs why do you limit the hazards to uranium mining? There is a long and costly road from mining to processing to shipping to enrichment to fabrication of nuclear fuel assemblies.

            OK…… and ……????? Where is the data for all those supposed what-if scenarios you just presented? If a truck carrying new fuel bundles crashed and caused any kind of injury it would be plastered across the NYT front page with the usual quotes from Lyman, other UCS “concerned scientists”, NIRS and a whole host of other anti-nuke types.

            Where is the data for accidents at Lynchburg and Hanford where fuel bundles are fabricated? Again I have not seen any anti-nuke types trumpeting that type of information. And since they love to point out every little blemish of nuclear power I can only surmise there is little-to-no data. There is data on weapons facilities that the anti-nuclear types love to trot out but that does not apply to commercial nuclear power plants. Different agendas, different goals. This is a discussion of worker safety at commercial nuclear power plants in the US not DOE weapons facilities.

            Nuclear power in the US is one of the few industrial activities that has not one, but two, federal oversight organizations policing jobsite safety.

            https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=MOU&p_id=233

            Tragically we now have to add 3 more people to the very short list who have died at a nuclear facility with the accident that just occurred in South Korea. Yet those workers did not die because of a failure of the nuclear reactor itself or support structures assemblies, subassemblies, etc. They died because of not following a basic industrial precaution of ensuring sufficient oxygen was available to prevent asphyxiation when working with nitrogen gas in enclosed spaces.

            Their deaths made headlines because it happened at a nuclear power plant. Between 1992 and 2002, 80 people died of nitrogen asphyxiation. Did any of their deaths make headline news in that 10 year span? No. Because they did not die at a nuclear facility. The media took an industrial accident that happens far too often and made it headlines only because it occurred at a nuclear power plant.

            http://www.csb.gov/assets/1/19/SB-Nitrogen-6-11-031.pdf

            My original response was to take your commentary on supposed nuclear accidents and to broaden the range of possible accident scenarios. To basically go from cradle to grave: Raw materials in the ground to useful electrons on the grid.

            Pipelines to gas turbine power plants are not considered part of the power plant. The cost of building these pipelines are not paid by the power plant – they are paid by the gas company so that they can sell gas to the power plant for profit.

            The utility companies that own and run nuclear power plants do not operate the mines, the fuel assembly facilities, nor the trucks that bring the fuel bundles to the nuclear plant. I am including all those activities in my commentary, again from a cradle to grave view point, since many anti-nukes love to cherry-pick data to suit their agenda. By looking at cradle to grave when comparing accidents or deaths on a per/kwh basis, including the inherently safe storage of used fuel at the power plants, the potential to cherry-pick is reduced.

            Operating NPPs also use highly combustible fuels on site – hydrogen, natural gas, diesel fuel oil, etc. Have you looked at those accidents?

            Well again I am not the one who made the claim the nuclear power plants are killing people: but I have heard about many accidents that killed people at operating NPPs. So again I will ask for more details of those numerous accidents that resulted in the deaths of many people at operating nuclear power plants that you claim have happened and instead you push it back to me to attempt to dispute.

            You then go deeper into the realm of the what-ifs:

            Electrocution is a common worker injury at power plants. Have you looked at those for gas turbine plants versus nuclear power plants? NPPs have ten to twenty times as much electrical cable and equipment than gas turbine plants with much more opportunity for injury. Have looked at those accidents?
            You also have not looked at the injuries during construction. NPPs are bigger, heavier, and more dangerous for workers during construction than gas turbine plants. Have you looked at those accidents?

            More what-ifs with a large dose of unfounded assumptions. Electrocution is not that common at power plants. I have been around a number of power plants and utilities, most have been operational for over 30 years. Each site has a very small list of individuals that have died due to electrocution.

            Here is the OHSA accident website for you to shift through:

            https://www.osha.gov/dep/fatcat/dep_fatcat.html

            There are over 150 coal plants that are as large, or larger, than the remaining operating nuclear power plants here in the US. There are a number of natural gas plants and hydro facilities that exceed 500MW. Industrial wind facilities and the new industrial solar facilities are spread out over square miles and therefore require miles of transmission cabling, transformers, etc to tie them to the grid.

            Just because a power plant is large in output i.e. over 500MW; or large in size, i.e. industrial wind generation, doesn’t mean those facilities will automatically have more accidents. The potential for accidents is not directly related to the size of the plant.

            In 2013 OSHA reported 15 deaths across the entire utility business sector. That is 15 workers who lost their lives while working at a utility company. That figure does not include the individuals who lost their lives while working for independent power producers since those accidents would be classified under a different category. I suspect if I were to dig further most, if not all, of those 15 people died due to failures directly attributable to industrial safety issues that could happen at any type of facility, not failures of specific types of power plant equipment.

            Every one of us who work in, around and for nuclear power plants receive constant industrial safety training. It is taken seriously. Broad statements that more people die while working at nuclear power plants then other type of power plants just because there is radiation present are indicative of anecdotal stories from anti-nuclear groups that are unverifiable by actual industrial safety data.

        3. Jaagu,

          “3. Your ideas about NPPs not needing all the current regulation are irrational. I do not hear any utility executives or nuclear power experts claiming that nuclear power plants are over regulated. NEI praises NRC for cooperating with the nuclear industry.”

          Yes, the Nuclear industry has made it a point to not complain. Excuse me, the utility companies who own multiple completing types of generators and companies like Exelon who do not want want competition from new generation NPPs that could change the cost factor to be much cheaper than coal. j

          The NRC regulates radiation. It should regulate public safety. This is a very significant difference.

          The fact of the matter is that even if a NPP melts down the danger to the public is practically nothing.

          If an airplane hit a NPP the effects on the general public would be practically nothing.

          SOARCA’s main findings fall into three basic areas: how a reactor accident progresses; how existing systems and emergency measures can affect an accident’s outcome; and how an accident would affect the public’s health. The project’s preliminary findings include:

          Existing resources and procedures can stop an accident, slow it down or reduce its impact before it can affect public health;

          Even if accidents proceed uncontrolled, they take much longer to happen and release much less radioactive material than earlier analyses suggested; and

          The analyzed accidents would cause essentially zero immediate deaths and only a very, very small increase in the risk of long-term cancer deaths.

          http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/research/soar.html

          This is on existing reactors. New designs and proposed designs are even more resistant to melt downs or failures.

          On the other hand, while the NRC regulates radiation (not public safety) for NPP’s the oil, gas and coal industry release radiation at levels that would trigger a NRC review if they were under it’s regulatory requirements. But the NRC does not regulate NORM materials.

          http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Safety-and-Security/Radiation-and-Health/Naturally-Occurring-Radioactive-Materials-NORM/

          http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/tenorm/oilandgas.html

          So I am arguing that the NRC by regulating Nuclear power plant radiation releases to levels below NORM (which are permitted levels for other power producers) and by NOT considering any cost benefit analysis, over regulates Nuclear power by a very large factor.

          1. @ David who writes:

            The fact of the matter is that even if a NPP melts down the danger to the public is practically nothing.

            If an airplane hit a NPP the effects on the general public would be practically nothing.

            ===========================

            Delusional! No effect on the general public? LOL!

            Contamination, evacuations, replacement power and cleanup costs, loss of property, businesses, industry, farming and fisheries. Nuclear accidents can effect the general public.

            The world wide response to Fukushima has been more safety is required – not less safety. Worldwide review and upgrade of NPPs to incorporate Fukushima lessons learned have been conducted and modifications are being made. Just look at all the NPPs in Japan that are being modified or scrapped.

            SOARCA is rough calculation, and it has many short comings. SOARCA is only applicable in the US. Fukushima did not turn out like SOARCA predicts – Fukushima disaster did not take long for fuel melting, hydrogen explosions, containment failures, and release of large quantities of radiation.

            The NRC regulates NPPs for public and worker safety – not just for radiation. All you need to do is read the laws that govern NRC.

          2. Delusional! No effect on the general public? LOL!

            The effects on the public were due to policy decisions, not actual threats.

            Contamination, evacuations, replacement power and cleanup costs, loss of property, businesses, industry, farming and fisheries.

            The contamination was not enough to warrant more than brief evacuations for most of the area; it was forced by policy.  Replacement power was required by the decision to shut down all the country’s nuclear capacity… another bad policy.  Cleanup wasn’t a big issue for most of the area except due to the over-zealous level required:  policy again.  Property was lost to forced abandonment, not damage.  Farming has slightly increased levels of Cs, nothing of health concern at realistic levels… but policy strikes again.  Fishing is fine, the catch is unaffected.

            Almost every real problem in that list comes down to policy:  the problem didn’t come from Fukushima Dai’ichi, it came from Tokyo.

            The world wide response to Fukushima has been more safety is required

            How exactly do you get safer than zero radiation fatalities and 3 temporary and easily-preventable injuries, with realistic measures?  How can anyone demand that, while the impact and death toll of climate change keeps accelerating?  George Monbiot is right, and the anti-nuclear nuts around the world demanding “more safety!” (when we all know that they will never agree that anything is enough) need to put a sock in it.

  7. @Rod

    I do not have the details and I would like to know it myself. May be through your contacts in the nuclear industry you can find out the natural gas prices used by Georgia Power and those used by PHILIP HAYET of the Oversight Staff. This stuff should all be public information, but I can not find it. Maybe Georgia Power and the Georgia PSC do not want to let out the information.

    1. jaagu suggested “Maybe Georgia Power and the Georgia PSC do not want to let out the information.”

      Hmm…. and what would be the effect on gas futures if they did? Keeping in the Christmas spirit, could they be sued?

    2. @jaagu

      I’ll keep searching for the gas price scenarios used. Until we find them, it is a little premature to describe one unknown price model as being more realistic than another.

  8. Rod and group,

    The general discussion about how to respond to the wild statements and emotional over-reactions of anti-nuclear groups is exactly the right area to be discussing. Meridth’s points are well taken, “you will save money” does not have the emotional impact of “you are killing my children.”

    I would suggest that we go emotional in the following way. “You are stealing from me and my neighbors using LIES!!!” “I will not allow you to steal from us!” While media love to use fear as a selling point they also like emotional arguments. Getting two people in video boxes yelling at each other is common these days – we should use that! Getting a group together named “Mother’s against stealing” to go up against that other group… with a sweet but emotionally passionate mom calling the other one a false lier and then quoting stats and facts to back them up. The groups (note the plural I agree we need dozens of groups) would all need websites to backup their assertions with photos, videos and FAQ’s It would be best to not allow comments so that the energy of the group is not spent in online debate. The spokeswoman for “Mother’s against stealing.” would challenge the media moderator to do their job of fact checking when they get claims that a NPP is producing weapons grade plutonium. She should embarrass them with their lack of knowledge and willingness to steal from their audience by printing outright lies.

    1. The wind, solar and wet gas alternatives to Nuclear power certainly do kill children.
      Lets not forget Alyssa Charest Bégnoche 4 years old and Bianka Charest Bégnoche 9 years old killed by those that favor the non-nuclear alternatives requiring geographically widspread gathering and transport of energy. Sweet, innocent and killed.

      Perhaps we need a named foundation to stop the status quo that allows the widespread destruction involving children. The problem of widespread gathering and transport of energy is the problem, and this perspective that such gathering and transport is somehow beneficial must be challenged and changed.

      1. Oh dear, I had forgotten about that one.

        I hate how easy it is to forget about pretty much any energy-related accident unless it’s a freaking nuclear plant.

        Damn deep social engineering. I will make sure to remember the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster in 2015.

        1. And Casselton would have been another Lac Megantic if it was just a few miles away from where it happened.

  9. @ Jaagu, on the cost-to-complete of Vogtle vs. CCGT capacity,

    I’m afraid you have misinterpreted the report by Hayet and Georgia PSC staff on Vogtle’s financials from 11/21/14. It actually says that the cost-to-complete Vogtle 3 and 4 is less than the cost of abandoning the project and replacing it with CCGT under the staff’s assumptions of low gas prices, in all delay scenarios considered. So completing Vogtle will still save money for ratepayers even assuming a lower price of gas, according to Hayet.

    The passage you quoted, while confusingly worded, means that staff agrees with Georgia Power that completing the Vogtle units is “economic” on a cost-to-complete basis–that is, cheaper to the rate-payers than abandoning them and replacing with CCGT. When the passage says “less economic to continue,” it means the project at the staff’s assumed lower gas prices will have smaller benefits than Georgia Power calculated, but the benefits will still be positive compared to canceling the project. Hayet and staff do not conclude that it would be cheaper to cancel Vogtle and build gas plants, even at their lower assumed gas price.

    This is spelled out more clearly later on p. 14:

    “The Company’s and Staff’s results both indicate that it is more economical to continue constructing the Vogtle Units rather than to replace the Units with CCGT capacity. However, Staff’s assumption of a lower natural gas price forecast indicates that Staff’s results with the Vogtle Units are less favorable than the Company’s.”

    I. e., completing Vogtle is still economically favorable to ratepayers, but not as favorable as Georgia Power estimates.

    P. 14 also has a table of the net benefits of completing Vogtle vs. cancelation and replacement with gas capacity under various scenarios. It indicates that completing Vogtle will save ratepayers at least $2.7 billion in the worst delay scenario considered, at staff’s lower price of gas (compared with Georgia Power’s estimate of $3.4 billion in benefits).

    1. @Will Boisvert

      Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I did find the wording in the testimony confusing. I think you are correct – I will read it again.

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