During my early morning research, I often discover items that catch my interest or spark amusement. I was atracted to the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group’s (NJPIRG) web site by a press release announcing the expansion of a coalition that is opposed to Exelon’s effort to purchase PSEG (Public Service Enterprise Group). The group thinks that Exelon would gain too much market power and be able to increase already above average electrical power rates even more.
While at the site, I decided to see what other activities are currently interesting the NJPIRG. On their home page there is a left hand column navigation area with links to a number of their current programmes. I was tickled to note the fact that “Global Warming Solutions” was just above “Close Oyster Creek” in the list.
The pages linked to “Global Warming Solutions” correctly identify the culprit – the process of burning fossil fuels damages the planet; the largest single component of the emissions is from electrical power plants. The site makes the claim that in New Jersey alone, power plants produce 22 million tons of climate changing gases every year.
However, here is a quote from the page linked to “Close Oyster Creek” – “Oyster Creek’s operation is unnecessary-we can retire the plant and continue to get plenty of energy from the regional electricity grid.”
NJPIRG – this is a quiz.
(1) Where will that regional electricity grid get the power needed to replace the power currently generated by Oyster Creek?
(2) How much more climate changing gas will New Jersey power plants produce if Oyster Creek is shut down?
Of course, those are really rhetorical questions (I was once a teacher; old habits die hard) – here are the answers:
(1) By burning more coal, gas, and perhaps a little oil.
(2) In 2003, Oyster Creek generated 5,256,325 megawatt-hours. Ref 1
Each megawatt hour of electricity produced by fossil fuel combustion generates between about 800 and 2000 pounds of CO2 depending on the plant efficiency and the fuel burned. Shutting down Oyster Creek would thus cause New Jersey’s global warming gas emission total to increase by between 2 and 5 million tons per year.