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22 Comments

  1. “Like Mario, Andrew has established political and financial alliances with well-heeled donors that do not like nuclear energy”

    Like who??? I don’t doubt it, but I’m curious who he has these “financial alliances” with. And how is he allied with these entities? Through his own investment? By recieving political donations?

    1. @POA

      Interesting question. I started to write the answer as part of my initial post, but became worried that the information was too sordid and soap opera-like.

      Cuomo’s ex-wife’s maiden name is Kerry Kennedy. She is Robert F. Kennedy Jr’s sister. Through that connection, Cuomo met a couple named the Colley’s. The husband is the heir to a several hundred million dollar estate built on McDonalds franchises. The wife is a member of the board of directors of Riverkeeper, RFK’s antinuclear (specifically anti-Indian Point) organization. Cuomo is also an FOB (Friend of Bill Clinton.)

      I’ll let you use your searching skills to see why I decided that I was not ready to talk about all of Cuomo’s wealthy connections with a long history of opposition to nuclear energy. I got as far as three broken marriages, a suicide, and three political dynasties.

      1. Egads. I’m jaundiced enough already. I’ll pass, and just take your word for it.

      2. And Cuomo lives with his concubine Sandra Day in open adultery while receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin. I despise both Cuomos. Their anti-nuclearism is only the tip of the ice berg for me.

        1. @Paul W Primavera

          Cuomo’s personal life is of interest to me primarily as it relates to his energy policies. There is a disturbing tale there that involves serial adultery, big money, the kind of political dynasties that our Founding Fathers were hoping to avoid, and a sustained effort to combat nuclear energy, probably for monetary gain. Try searching for “Kerry Kennedy Cuomo Bruce Colley.”

          For me, integrity is far more important than religion, especially for people who aspire to be leaders. Cuomo appears to have been standing in line with a tiny thimble on the day they were handing out that particular trait. It looks like he might have stumbled and spilled out the tiny amount he initially received.

          One important proof of that can be found in his personal relationships and the way that he has treated those to whom he swore a solemn oath.

          1. Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Mario hung Shoreham’s head on his trophy wall. I have no doubts that Andrew will gladly sacrifice the air quality of New York State and thereby the health of its citizens for the political prize of destroying Indian Point. Two generations of Cuomos, two nuclear plants ruined. Quite a legacy for a couple of ‘Rats.

  2. I wish these liar kooks would shut up with this “designed to be shut down after 40 years” crap. That is absolutely a lie. I have designed nuclear plants. I know that they are designed with an indefinite lifetime, as any well designed and well maintained facility is. The engineering lifetime of a nuclear unit is a function of operational history. There are low-leakage cores in place that will extend the lifetime of the pressure vessel (embrittlement of the PV is often the limiting operational factor) well beyond 40 years, certainly as long as 60, and likely 80 years. I have done strength-of-materials tests on surveillance capsule specimens taken from pressure vessels in any number of plants and I can say that in almost every case the embrittlement of the pressure vessel steel is occurring at a slower rate than predicted by models, mainly because of steps taken to reduce fast neutron flux at the vessel walls. There is no “40 year design life”. The bottom line is, these plants can run a long time beyond 40 years, if they are allowed to. That they are not is only a result of the declining power of men themselves.

    1. “I wish these liar kooks would shut up with this “designed to be shut down after 40 years” crap.”

      @Wayne SW

      How about “designed to be retrofitted after 40 years” (involving significant new capital requirements). Is that that any more correct in your view?

      France just published a review of refurbishment costs on it’s reactors (due after 40 years), and is due to release next week policy recommendations on the basis of this report. “The report details uncertainty about future spending in areas like dismantling, waste treatment and disposal, and whether it’s worthwhile extending the lives of reactors beyond four decades … The total cost of keeping the existing fleet working would be around 3 billion euros a reactor, Baupin said at a press conference.”

      With refurbishment costs very high (and uncertain) … is this a defacto lifetime? We’ll see what the French decide later this week.

      1. @EL

        How about “designed to be retrofitted after 40 years” (involving significant new capital requirements). Is that that any more correct in your view?

        No. It is not more correct.

        The license period was chosen based on political, not technical assumptions. Plant maintenance and repair are based on planned, engineered preventive maintenance schedules and condition based repairs when necessary. There is nothing magic about 40 years.

        In this case, the US is the leader in determining the actions required to extend life to 60 or beyond. I would not look to France and their Socialist Party influenced study for guidance.

      2. No, not more correct. A well-maintained plant has an ongoing maintenance program. Some things are refurbished/replaced before 40 years, some at 40 years, some well beyond 40 years. I have designed nuclear plants. I know that there is nothing magical about 40 years, that when that mark is passed everything falls to pieces, or all the alarms go off and say, oh, my God, you’re beyond you’re “designed lifetime”. Some things are replaced even prior to their operational lifetimes are up simply because there are better things available. Ultrasonic flow meters are a good example. When those became available operators went with them because they are more accurate and allow recapture of measurement uncertainty. I am working now on fiber optic-based sensors which I think will, in time, replace many other types of sensors and allow further reduction in measurement uncertainty.

        1. Thanks … that’s a helpful response . I would agree with WNA (and what has been said here), that operating lifetimes within a specified range are “essentially an economic decision.” NRC says pretty much the same, and adds antitrust considerations to the list.

          It seems the Cuomos were particularly concerned with another concern regarding provisions for public safety and changing demographic circumstances over the operating license of nuclear plants: emergency planning zones. Shoreham never had it’s evacuation plan certified, and some consider the logistics of emergency evacuation around Indian Point (of some 300,000 people) as not particularly practical. Different from design lifetime, but also a factor relevant to licensing decisions (and site based considerations of operating power plants with such long operating lifetimes).

          1. Shoreham’s emergency plan was never certified because of political action. At the time, the NRC required that emergency plans be certified only if there was local participation in drills by emergency response personnel. Suffolk County political leaders refused to participate in the emergency drills, even though the plant had adequate resources to conduct them. They knew that if they didn’t participate, the plan wouldn’t be certified, and the NRC would not grant a full-power operating license. Thus, local (non-federal) personnel exercised a back-door veto of the plant’s operating license.

            As far as feasibility of evacuation is concerned, Cuomo and Suffolk County believed as you do. You and they were proved wrong when a hurricane (I think it was Hurricane Bob) came up the coast and evacuation of some parts of LI was ordered. To do that, they dusted off the evacuation plans that were developed for Shoreham. Worked like a charm. Not a lot of people know that, and it certainly didn’t make the papers.

  3. No small part of me says ‘good, let them close it down and let the voters of NY get a taste of what they have been craving’. Maybe when congestion fees quadruple overnight people might actually be forced to put 2 and 2 together and see how their lives are dependant on these systems.

    1. I imagine the same thing that happened when the Fresh Kills trash dump was closed will happen. Specifically, Western Pennsylvania’s environment will once again have to “take one for the team” so that NY won’t have to know where their electricity comes from either.

      “We have one transfer facility in New Jersey that is a waste energy facility, but most of the waste ends up in probably a dozen or more landfills in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia,” Doherty explains. (http://cooperator.com/articles/1323/1/Where-Does-the-Garbage-Go/Page1.html)

      Pennsylvania’s legislature doesn’t seem to mind gas wells and fracking, and there’s already a lot of infrastructure to get electricity from PA to New York and New Jersey, since there’s always been coal fired (and nuclear) plants there.

  4. The 40 year period is the duration of the original licenses, as specified in the Atomic Energy Act. As Wayne says above, that is not at all the same as “the design life” of the units.

    So what *is* the basis for the 40 years? As far as I can tell, the Act limited the license period because granting a longer time would be an unfair advantage to the licensee – it might inhibit future competition in the service area of the unit. The 40 years is supposedly picked consistent with similar federal license time limits for large hydro dams and maybe radio licenses issued by the FCC.

  5. The AEC had no experience to go on since nuclear plants were a new breed. They based the 40 year license term in part on the time it took to retire construction bonds for steam electric power stations, which were all fossil-fueled at the time except for a few large hydro plants here and there. So, yes, it is somewhat of an artificial limit to put power plants on a level playing field in terms of their license lifetime. But, from an engineering and physics viewpoint, there is no 40 year life limit for nuclear plants. A well-maintained nuclear plant with a low neutron leakage core design can easily run 60 years, probably 80, before embrittlement causes issues with heatup and cooldown rates and perhaps overpressure limits.

  6. Rod, if you are looking for a conspiracy, don’t stop at Albany. Keep looking farther north. Ask yourself who benefits if power flows south easier. Personally I suspect Canada. They just got all their nukes back online for the first time in years after major refits. They now seem to be on a buying spree south of the border (central Hudson just got bought). They have a lot if excess generating capacity looking for customers.

    1. Only true for Ontario. Quebec, the idiots, shut down Gentilly II, when they could use it’s capacity to export more revenue generating electricity to the USA in the winter months.

  7. Just a fact-check, Rod. Indian Point provides about 5% of the electricity used daily in NYC and Westchester County — not 25%, which they are incapable of. The daily peak load in summer is around 13,000 MWe. 25% of that is 3,250 MW — a bit of a stretch for a plant with a max output of 2100MW.

    In addition, under deregulation ConEd sold off its nuke plant, IP2 to Entergy and the NY Power Authority sold IP3 to Entergy. ConEd now buys electricity for its 4 million residential and 250,000 business customers. NYPA has hydro plants of its own upstate, and buys what else it needs for its municipal customers — street lights, city hall, schools, airports, public housing, and the subways. ConEd buys only 560 MW from IP and NYPA let its contract lapse last year since they got better terms for long term contracts elsewhere. The free market has already largely replaced IP in this market. If they close, it will not affect the rates of the subway system at all since they are providing no electricity there anyway.

    The state’s deregulated electric system grew out of the old utility monopolies, which had limited transmission capabilities between downstate and upstate. And while upstate nuclear plants have on occasion, in the past year, had to actually pay the grid to take their electricity, that has not been a problem for IP because of the limited transmission capabilities.

    Cuomo’s energy highway would significantly increase transmission capabilities throughout the state, but particularly between the wind farms in the Great Lakes region and hydro upstate. The new transmission would, as you stated, prove enticing for firms like NRG, which has plans to replace a shuttered coal plant near IP with a combined cycle gas plant.
    Essentially, rather than order IP shut, Cuomo is opening up the market to let competitors run IP out of town.

    However, the NY Department of State may yet deny Entergy a certificate of compatibility with its coastal management plan — which would mean IP would have to close. Or Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision to deny IP a discharge permit unless they install closed cycle cooling may be upheld. Either of these actions would be problematic for Entergy.

    1. @Roger Witherspoon

      Please check your own facts again. Peak load has little to do with the daily electricity consumption as measured in kilowatt-hours. In addition, electricity itself does not obey contracts, electrons flow based on wires and locations, not based on the kind of manipulative wheeling and dealing that passes for a “competitive” electricity market.

      If you take 2100 MW of reliable, emission-free electricity generation that runs at about a 90% capacity factor out of the grid, that amount of electricity is going to have to be generated at the same time and delivered to the same places as it always was since it is unlikely that customers will change their use very much. That means that to a very high degree of correlation, the electricity generated by Indian Point will be produced by burning natural gas, oil or coal.

      Please do not make the mistake of telling me that oil is no longer used in the US power grid. In the Northeast, partially due to a lengthy campaign of eliminating both nuclear and coal plants that can store fuel on site and are not burdens on the frequently inadequate natural gas delivery pipelines, oil is more and more frequently used as the last available option for both electricity generation and heat production on certain days. Last winter, fully 25% of the electricity delivered by the New England ISO came from running diesel engines and dual fuel capable gas turbines on diesel fuel.

      I am pretty sure that Dunkirk will end up running on coal part of the time until it finishes the planned conversion to a combined cycle gas turbine plant. Once it is in that condition, the dual fuel option will be petroleum. Fortunately, Dunkirk will probably have a reliable natural gas supply, especially if the pro-frackers have their way in Western New York.

      1. Remember too that last winter the ISO in New England had generators burning jet fuel because the natural gas supply was so limited. Vermont Yankee is a goner at the end of the year, about the right time for another polar vortex. They’d better have more jet fuel available then because they aren’t going to have any more gas pipelines ready by then (if ever).

        This kind of thing is what gives life to the lie that the grid can “get by” without nuclear plants. The iron rule of electricity generation is that if you throw away one source of generation you have to replace it with another that is equivalent to meet the same demand. So they’ll do whatever they have to do to replace the power, and that means burning something, anything, be it coal, oil, jet fuel, natural gas, wood pulled out of fences, furniture, newspapers, unicorn flatulence, whatever it takes. The survival instinct is strong, and people will do what they have to do. I for one would rather not have that kind of chaos.

        1. And the worst and most pathetic thing about it, Wayne, is that this mad scramble for “alternatives” is perfectly unnecessary when you already have a proven clean and low impact working solution who’s sole fault and hamstring and curse is implacable fear!

          James Greenidge
          Queens NY

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