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  1. NYMEX Natural Gas price, up 5% on 5/31/2016, up 4% more on 6/1/2016, just saying.


    If no closure announcement comes in the next few days, I suspect that the impending, inevitable natural gas price increase could yet save Clinton and Quad Cities (with Quad Cities the more likely survivor as a dual-unit site, although Exelon’s fleet in Illinois is large enough that even Clinton likely leverages some fleet efficiencies that can be found in no other U.S. nuclear utility).

    I think you should engage in a new bet with Prof. Skutnik, Rod.

  2. One thing that has not been discussed in relationship to these early plant closings is the fact that the decommissioning funds for these plants are funded. Closing plants, even ones that are marginally profitable, may make business sense for many of these companies, because of the reduced risk profiles. It is the customers that have funded the construction of these facilities, and paid for their retirement, that are being shorted when a company chooses to close a plant.

    If nuclear plants were operated less responsibly and funding decommissioning were a responsibility of the owning utility, I imagine that the managing companies would be less interested in considering early retirement.

  3. Do not know about all NPPs, but I do not understand the comments implying that the utility will get a big cash infusion when they shut down from their Decommissioning Fund. Nureg – 1577 provides guidance and plants follow that guidance as they get periodic inspections on compliance. Each of the plants that I have worked at were not loading that fund up early, and with license renewals, they even took advantage of slacking off on funding, within limits, so that they had money to spend on the renewal costs. Thus, in my opinion, very few will have enough when shut down early to even meet NRC requirements and will be delaying decommissioning to build up the necessary funds to even start the Decommissioning Project. Thus the rate payers get increased rates to pay for the unnecessary shut down.
    Perhaps those familiar with VY and what is happening there have some better information. But I just don’t get the idea that they are shutting the plant down to get their hands on 1/2 $Billion.
    How can these executives justify spending $Billions on Wind Turbines, that will only last 10 – 15 years and then need to be replaced for twice that cost to save $20 – 30 Million a year in higher costs of a NPP that is actually better for the environment, knowing that NG prices are going to go back up, guaranteed! Does not make GREEN sense in both meaning/uses of GREEN.

    1. “How can these executives justify spending $Billions on Wind Turbines, that will only last 10 – 15 years and then need to be replaced for twice that cost to save $20 – 30 Million a year in higher costs of a NPP that is actually better for the environment, knowing that NG prices are going to go back up, guaranteed!”

      How far ahead are they allowed to look? Will a long term outlook that does not maximize immediate return be tolerated in today’s short sighted business world?

      It just seems sometimes like long term vision is in short supply in many more ways than nuclear power.

    2. @Rich

      Remember how most of us could never understand the logic associated with the Department of Agriculture paying people to NOT plant crops? The goal was to lower the “overproduction” of crops so that the remaining farmers could sell at higher prices.

      The DOE and the NRC seem to be the government’s means of achieving the same result in the energy industry. Unfortunately, they’ve chosen to restrict production from the most fertile technology available.

  4. I have worked at both sites. Clinton 1986-97 and Quad Cities 1997-2000. Both are staffed by great people doing a great job operating well run plants. Both were built by old school utilities over a hundred years old at the time, Illinois Power and Commonwealth Edison. Deregulation of the power market was sought by both companies in the 1990s. Fast growing (on paper) Enron provided their motivation. I’m not sure any CEO, lobbyist, or politician can undo that hot mess. When financial crises develop, the bean counters will prevail. Decommissioning provides immediate capital asset write down, and current year cash flow in the form of decommissioning funds that print well on a Shareholders Annual Report. Utilities the size of Exelon need to clear the power market of excess capacity to make their remaining generators more highly profitable in forecasted estimates. If you can make more money with less O&M and fuel costs, its going to happen. Its a spreadsheet balancing act. Byron, Braidwood, LaSalle, and Dresden operating in a higher priced, lower base load supplied market – may just be the correct business decision in Chicago denominated in dollars and cents. The proposed bill and failure may just be weak attempt to transfer or share the heat of the decision with the well known, near bankrupt hot mess that is the State of Illinois.
    Just my humble opinion.

  5. I suspect that low natural gas prices are also due, in part, to a US strategy to deprive Russia of export revenue. A similar strategy was employed with oil in the 1980’s, even to the detriment of US oil producers.

    1. @FermiAged

      Perhaps, but the gas market is not as well coupled as the oil market. Though LNG transportation capacity is growing around the world, there has been little connectivity between US natural gas prices and those in traditional Russian markets in Europe.

      Our “strategy” of making nuclear related exports from the US as burdened with red tape and diplomatic conditions as possible, however, seems to be doing a pretty good job of helping Russia to overcome the disadvantages of having had a Chernobyl. Its nuclear export business is booming. Rosatom announced the signing of an additional $10 billion worth of deals during Atom Expo this past week.

      I think that increases their order backlog to something on the order of $110 billion.

  6. Sad day for nuclear and the environment. And I was all set to call some political offices. I’ll be turning my focus to Diablo Canyon’s preservation from this point.

  7. Seems like once these announcements are made there is never any reconsideration.

    It would be interesting if they passed the bill later this year if Exelin would reverse

    My guess is no

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