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  1. Thank you Rod for an excellent summary of the status of Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) and CGNP’s advocacy activities. CGNP is also proud to be part of the team that defeated passage on 31 August 2018 of PacifiCorp’s AB 813, which would have facilitated PacifiCorp’s ability to sell its 6,000 MW of dirty coal generation for use in California.

    I agree that constructing three more nuclear power plants the size of DCPP would allow California to cost-effectively meet the emissions targets established by SB 100. Any “surplus” power could be used to provide massive amounts of desalinated water to California. It is far more efficient to transmit electricity to local coastal (and inland) desalination stations than to consume massive amounts of energy moving water the length of California.

    As has been noted elsewhere, solar power and wind generation appear to serve as public relations “props” to maintain the status quo of burning more and more fossil fuel (with attendant increased emissions) to generate electricity for California, now the world’s fifth largest economy.

    Furthermore, per a 27 July 2018 analysis published in MIT Technology Review, https://tinyurl.com/Battery-Boondoggle the huge and unsustainable cost of the necessary (but short-lived) lithium batteries is estimated. Batteries are needed in association with intermittent solar and wind generation to make solar and wind power dispatchable, like nuclear. Those lithium batteries would be better deployed for vehicle electrification, as the transportation end-use sector is the greatest contributor to California’s emissions, per California Air Resources Board (CARB) analysis.

    1. Those lithium batteries would be better deployed for vehicle electrification

      This has been known since at least 2001 if not earlier.  The failure (more likely, refusal) to consider this should be investigated as a crime, and the perps prosecuted.

      the transportation end-use sector is the greatest contributor to California’s emissions, per California Air Resources Board (CARB) analysis.

      Refurbish and restart San Onofre.  Keep Diablo Canyon on-line and work out an expansion plan.  Ponder a project for Bodega Bay; would AP1000s or NuScales be the best fit?  Site something at Rancho Seco, preferably with an eye toward busting the temperature inversion layers there and moving polluted air downwind.  Reduce the source factor of the pollution by replacing petroleum with emissions-free electricity.

      It’s so obvious.  The people opposed should be investigated for conspiracy and prosecuted if evidence surfaces.

      1. Eh, E-P? Follow the money. He who robs Peter to pay Paul is assured the support of Paul.

        ‘Besides which, Tesla / Solar City are environment heroes these parts. But check the comments: falstaff77 is a character after your own heart. :;

      2. This country does not have the labor force to build an AP1000. When I worked at VC Summer 2/3 many of the craft workers lived at the apartment complex where I was renting. Many were in their mid 50s to their 60s. There seemed to be a high frequency of injuries, heart attacks etc. Even after the demise of Summer 2/3, I read that Vogtle 3/4 is having problems getting qualified labor and improving labor productivity.

      3. The labor force which built our current fleet, now coming to or past their re-licensure dates… where did it come from?  We trained people once, is that somehow impossible now?

        If affirmative action rules are why we can’t do it again, well, they’re well past their sell-by dates anyway.

      4. I don’t think its affirmative action, but rather a long-term cultural trend. I’m recalling a DoD Strategic Resources study from iirc the late ’70’s. Petroleum and and strategic metals caught the most attention, but “perhaps our most troubling and intractable future shortage is of highly skilled labor. Our best machinists, specialty pipe-fitters, and tool-and-die makers are nearing retirement and speak English with a foreign accent.”

        At the time, those would have been post-war German and Italian immigrants, whose children turned to other, more lucrative and — more importantly — culturally respected occupations.

        As did those of our native craftsmen.

        The good news is it wasn’t a total loss. We still build bridges, warships, and sophisticated aircraft and space systems. I’m not in that business, but suspect there’s a management gap in luring senior people away from their comfortable homes and careers elsewhere, to join projects like Summer and Vogtle for five or six years, in a capacity where they might have serious input into QC and training, with assurance they won’t lose ground when they return home.

        I don’t know how one could make such assurance. The best one could do would be an assurance that after this nuclear power project, there will be a steady stream of others. And that’s not happening.

      5. The US education system is completely oriented away from what used to be known as the industrial arts. Reduced domestic demand for skilled craft-work from off-shoring manufacturing and automation hasn’t helped. Most of our younger population comes from immigration. The illegal immigrants go into low-skill service jobs. The legal immigrants go into law, medicine, science/engineering. The native-born disdain any kind of manual labor.

        It would take years under a concerted effort to restore a fraction of that workforce.

        Even if Vogtle 3/4 gets completed, the AP1000 is a dead end in the US. We could not even do a reasonable deployment of the Korean design without significant foreign labor assuming the NRC already had it certified.

        I forsee a window of opportunity for nuclear in about 3-5 years when natural gas prices rebound as much of it is exported making the apparent price of renewables much more expensive. The ending of state subsidies for solar panel nanufacturers in China will also raise the cost of renewables. Then there are the tariffs on imports from China.

        Any nuclear option would have to be deployed rapidly at predictable cost and prove itself in service as a reliable generator of electricity. The only nuclear game in town is NuScale. From what I’ve seen, every other nuclear design is just computer models and artwork.

        If the situation in the US is dire enough, you could even see a comeback of coal.

      6. It is truly amazing that people are not entering the work force for these good paying jobs.


        and other links.

        There are a lot of people who have to work two and three jobs. Why aren’t they actively recruiting these people to fill the gap? It’s a win win situation. Why waste the resource of these people?

        Once again – The world has proved itself to be crazy.

  2. Rod/Gene,

    Thanks to both of you, for your continued efforts to promote clean air and water, sustainable communities, and prosperity for all our children.

    Democracy is ludicrous, especially in these divisive times, but the alternative is truly horrific. By all metrics, we are getting there, in our usual fits, and starts… https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/06/opinion/sunday/2017-progress-illiteracy-poverty.html

    Hopefully, Deflation will “trump” Income Disparity soon, in hugely noticeable ways (Molten Salt Reactors, Automation, Algorithms, AI, etc.), as the Global Economy moves forward, on the planet we all must share, always…

    1. Deflation will do no such thing.  It will slash incomes but not loan balances, throwing debtors into bankruptcy and throwing them out of their homes and most everything else.  The only way out of our debt crisis is the opposite, inflation.

      1. Look at the Global prosperity metrics for 2017 in the link above (it has already started), accept the opposing economic forces now taking shape, and follow Global Markets, (as our incomes continue to stagnate, and purchasing power increases exponential in the next few decades). Those hidden offshore bank accounts will become irrelevant, as wages continue to stagnate and purchasing power increases exponentially, in the next few decades!

        If we don’t bomb each other into extinction, technology will get us there, even if it is difficult for us to see it coming…

  3. Excellent work by CGNP and excellent summary. We can all learn from this.

    Also, in my opinion, companies who plan to shut down a nuclear plant should have to file an Environmental Impact Statement about the proposed shut down. And they should have to defend that statement in public.

  4. California SB 100, referenced in your first paragraph, was passed by the California legislature and as of 01 September 2018 still awaits Governor Brown’s signature. Brown threatened to withhold his signature on SB 100 until the legislature passed AB 813, the PacifiCorp Bill, the latter being defeated by the legislature on 31 August 2018.)

    1. Gene,

      In reference to Meredith’s (excellent) comment, I believe I asked you (on another site) if you thought a utility could be compelled to continue operating a nuclear plant if environmental impact analyses showed that closing it would have a negative impact. If I recall correctly, you said that it possibly could. Is CGNP including any such arguments in its legal challenges? If so, could you share any details with us (and remind me of them, if you told me already….). Thanks!!

      1. Hi Jim,

        The last link in Rod’s article includes all the relevant State mandates, which which several State Agencies violated in taking action to close DCPP, and can be challenged in court.

        As Meredith has noted above, Federal Law also requires preparation of an EIS to fully disclose all negative environmental impacts, before any federal agencies take action to close DCPP.


  5. Allowing Community Choice associations to source Diablo and Helms output as meeting statewide goals would be nice.

    PV and CSP with their low teens capacity factors make them a poor choice for keeping lights on or EV charged in the colder climates in the state.

  6. I’ve thought about the impacts of this policy on Diablo’s continued operation and I have to admit that I’m unsure.

    On the one hand, Diablo could be used to meet part of the 40% requirement. In other words, would the law result in Diablo being able to effectively get a higher price for its power?

    BTW, how is this policy going to be implemented? Will they have clean energy credits for the 40% part (along with renewable energy credits for the 60% part)? Or will there be no actual market mechanisms? I’m told that this policy is actually only aspirational. There are no financial penalties on utilities for not meeting the goal.

    On the other hand, this policy could further deteriorate market conditions for nuclear, as it would force even more intermittent generation onto the regional grid. (I’m assuming everyone here knows about how intermittent generation harms nuclear’s economics.)

    Of note is that the policy refers to “purchased” electricity, as opposed to the mix of power generation located in the state. Thus, it can be met by wind farms in Wyoming, etc.. The net effect of all this is that CA will use the rest of the western US as a buffer, and the effects of intermittent generation on the grid will be spread throughout the West. This could negatively impact the economics of nuclear plants anywhere near CA (i.e., Palo Verde or Columbia).

    On the bright side, it may result in coal plant closures throughout the west (for similar reasons, VRE also harm’s coal’s economics). But if it leads to nuclear plant closures, it will be counter-productive. And then of course we have the renewables mandate that was placed on the ballot in AZ itself……

    1. Jim. I read something relevant on this yesterday, but didn’t bookmark the source. San Diego Tribune, I think.

      Wherever, it was an interview maybe a year ago, or Dec. 2016, with a PG&E official, who explained that California’s then renewable energy mandate (SB 350?) [i]required[/i] he obtain 50% of his mix from renewables, and nuclear did not qualify. He also estimated demand would stay stagnant and as result, he’d have to throttle Diablo Canyon back to 50% Cf, which was totally uneconomic. But if nuclear were included in the 50% clean energy requirement and he could run 90+%, he’d gladly keep DC on line.

      If I again stumble across the reference, I’ll try to post.

  7. The real issue here is that it is impossible to have a stable electrical grid with 60% intermittent renewables (solar, wind). Despite $1 trillion investment in renewables in Germany, and retail electricity prices around $0.35 (US) per kWh, Germany barely is reducing its carbon dioxide emissions and will not meet its 2020 target. They almost lost the grid several times last year with just 30% renewables. This is the fundamental problem when politicians, 99% of whom never took a course in thermodynamics, are trying to run the electric grid instead of engineers.

    1. I live in a state where the capacity factor of the wind fleet is less than 28%.  To provide one customer with “100% renewable power” from wind, the peak generation is going to have to be roughly 3.6 times immediate demand.  This means you need at least another 2.6 non-green customers to absorb the over-generation during peak periods, or curtail (waste) a lot of power.

      I wonder what kind of governance we would have if we required all pols serving at the state and federal level to have a minimum education in mathematics and the sciences, to include at least trig, geometry, chemistry and physics.  The downside is there would be a lot less unintentional hilarity from certain caucuses.  The upside is, those caucuses might well cease to exist as those constituencies elected people too stupid to be seated.

      1. Require that all politicians have Renewable and Only Renewable energy for their home for one full year. If renewable energy is not available, they go dark. See how much they like it.

      2. Require that all politicians have Renewable and Only Renewable energy for their home for one full year.

        That’s just it, they are already offered a “100% renewable” option, and their lights stay on.

        The problem is, it’s the same old bait-and-switch via “Renewable Energy Credits” so that someone somewhere generates X many kWh from whatever and sells these suckers the moral preening rights while fossil power keeps everything humming.

      3. “MidAmerican Energy Company will be the first investor-owned electric utility in the U.S. to generate renewable energy equal to 100% of its customers’ use on an annual basis, once its newest proposed $922 million wind energy project, Wind XII, is in operation. ” [A Berkshire Hathaway holding. Think massive tax write offs.]
        Meanwhile the two coal powered power plants near me are running at full capacity and the majority of that “Renewable power” is being sold out of state. Several times in the last year I have seen articles in the paper that enough power has been produced in Iowa by renewable sources to meet 100% of the states electrical power demand. Again near the bottom of the article you can find that the majority has gone out of state.

      4. Well of COURSE it’s gone out of state.  It HAS to.  To offset 100% of consumption with an un-dispatchable supply, you need lots of external load to take the generation in excess of immediate demand.

  8. I was alerted by my former Assemblymember, Mike Gatto, to a video of SB-100 being debated on the California Assembly floor. Though the bill passed, two current Assemblymembers, Brian Dahle and Jordan Cunningham (who has a degree in physics) hit the nail on the head for why it shouldn’t – and why this fight is far from over. Video:


    PS It’s been pointed out to me both are Republicans, as if it matters. Climate doesn’t care whether the people saving it are Republicans, Democrats, or Rohingya.

  9. I do like the sound of the proposed desalination plants. It’s ridiculous that one continually hears talk of drought in California, when it is bordered by the whole Pacific Ocean. With enough power it can produce all the water it needs.

    1. For landlubbers living on a virtual desert, it’s difficult to describe just how voluminous the Pacific Ocean really is.

      H2O is a bountiful, virtually unlimited, reusable resource on Earth. No excuse for “running out of water.”

      1. The wingnuts here don’t even like desalination plants fueled by natural gas. The California Coastal Commission has pretty much outlawed any new thermal power plants on the coast which is presumably where any desalination plant would be located. If it remained in operation, San Onofre was eventually going to have to install cooling towers. I’m sure that battle played a part in throwing in the towel.

        On the other hand, southern CA has become so crowded it will soon only appeal to those moving here from third world slums. Trying to limit population growth by making the cost of living unaffordable has backfired big time. Everywhere you turn apartments are going up instead of homes because they are (relatively) cheaper.

      2. Desalination of sea water in California would allow the state to go to a full 50,000MWs of generation based on fission. The Desal plants, massively built out with proper saline dispersal outfalls, could act as “storage” for non-peak hours of generation allowing the plants to run flat out. When the load goes down, desal picks up producing 10s of millions of gallons a night of fresh water.

  10. Recently I’ve been thinking about siting a series of nuclear plants on an artificial island.

    Sufficiently far out into sea or ocean to not bother anyone (or even be seen) – say 40 miles or so. Nobody could file a case against it because nobody could claim to be affected by it, so far as to not even be seen on a clear day.

    The Gravelines NPP in France looks about 0.7×1.2 km, and has 6 units of about 5.5 GWe, that would not be an expensive island for that rating. 6 AP1000’s would even be 7 GWe, getting up there.

    I’m looking at Europe here where the North Sea is nice and cool and shallow, and there are too many people near the coasts. Building the units on an island offshore means they are not in anyone’s backyard.

    Gravelines uses a colocated aqua-farm where shrimps and such are grown, off the nice warm reject cooling water. Something similar could be used. Over 10 GW of reject heat goes into this water, that is quite a lot.

    1. Perhaps the artificial island could be an atoll – the outer ring would provide a measure of protection while the inner lagoon would be a nice heat sink. And since it would be an “artificial” lagoon, no ‘natural’ habitats or species could be ‘threatened’ by a bit of waste heat.

      1. That’s possible. Various techiques are available to make the island. Probably it would just be a standard rock/mat foundation, sand island, with a rocks/concrete breakwater. Sheet piling is also a great technique to use.

        If you look at the Gravelines NPP, there’s one big common entrant water channel, an an exit (heated) water channel next to it.

        Closed lagunes would be an issue though, if the output is large: we’re talking about over 10 GW of heat input for the Gravelines NPP. That is a lot of heat to put into a lagoon. Take a look at the size of the cooling pond at Chernobyl for example. This could definately be done but at added cost. Might be interesting if big resistance is expected on local marine impacts. Honestly I believe concerns are exaggerated. The sun puts in a heck of a lot more heat into the oceans than NPPs ever could.

      2. I hate to bring this up because it’s something that I think has been overblown, but a floating nuke plant sounds lile a good target for a crazy organization. Remember Greenpeace and the whales.

    2. My station IS on an “artificial island” in South Jersey. It is bordered by sunken liberty ships in the Delaware river that were supposed to capture silt. It’s a good idea obviously; it’s not a new idea.

  11. My station IS on an “artificial island” in South Jersey. It is bordered by sunken liberty ships in the Delaware river that were supposed to capture silt. It’s a good idea obviously; it’s not a new idea.

    1. Of course. all the more I wonder why it hasn’t been done yet.

      Instead of fighting NIMBY and needing huge evacuation areas for beyond design basis accident planning, let the sea/ocean be your safety zone and nobodies-backyard.

      at some 50 km offshore, even eagle eyed people can’t see it. Out of sight out of mind.

      You could also store the spent fuel in dry casks on site for as long as needed, nobody is there to complain.

  12. I have been a commercial Licensed Operator Instructor since the 1990s.
    The Enron fiasco triggered my career decision to leave utilities. In an attempt to compete with Paper Tigers Enron, Skilling, Lay, Arthur Anderson & Co; many US utilities actively sought deregulation. They got it. The most successful nuclear fleet builds in the US were during regulated utility operations. Since deregulation – very few builds have occurred.

    With restructuring came the downsizing, early retirements of the generation of personnel who built and started up the US nuclear fleet. This is why I knew an experience shortage was developing that I needed to serve. That experience drain has not been fully recouped. Most plants operate with far fewer people than decades ago. We have Operations and Maintenance experience, but very little Construction experience left. The number of experienced SRO Instructors is an unspoken crisis – you see the job ads. It takes years to develop SRO proficiency, even more to develop the few inclined to be an SRO Instructor.

    In the last decade we have seen the additional drain triggered by the Baby Boomer retirements. The transfer of that experience has not been smooth, cyclic performance at plants is but one symptom.

    It takes infrastructure beyond civil to build nuclear power plants. Part of that is human, much of which is now gray haired, and long ago retired. If new builds in the US are to become more frequent, build that industry infrastructure or forget it.

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