Joe Romm, an Amory Lovins protege and strongly partisan anti-nuclear activist who claims to be concerned about climate change, has published an emotionally charged diatribe at HuffingtonPost.com against the very idea that the US Senate included emission-free nuclear power in its list of clean energy sources eligible for loan guarantee programs under the stimulus bill.
Comments are encouraged on Huffington Post, so I added mine. Unfortunately, the comments are limited to 250 words and there is no word count displayed, so I had to do a considerable amount of slicing before I fit under the limit. I thought the original version was worth sharing, or at least preserving for my own records, so here it is:
Joe Romm has made up a few of his debating points, which is why he generally choses to use his own articles as references.
The EPACT 2005 loan guarantee provisions have already resulted in more than 15,000 jobs related to the construction of new nuclear power plants without costing taxpayers a dime. Joe mentioned that there are applications for $122 billion in loan guarantees; those are all for projects that are already making their way through the license application process, each employing hundreds of engineers, researchers, lawyers, accountants, financial analysts, and instructors. If you have applicable skills and are looking for work, the industry continues to need people.
Dozens of training programs involving universities, community colleges and union apprentice halls have been initiated in cooperative programs between industry and the education/training providers.
If people do their jobs correctly – admittedly a big if – there is a good chance that the program will never cost the taxpayers any money.
If the plants are built and operated, the income generated will pay back the loans just as the income being generated today by the plants that a previous generation of Americans built has already paid off the loans and continues to provide us with about 806 Million megawatt-hours of clean, reliable electricity every year. The INCREASE in that total from 2006-2007 was 19 million megawatt-hours while the TOTAL amount of electricity generated by highly subsidized wind, solar and geothermal power in 2007 was just 47 million megawatt-hours. (Source: US Energy Information Agency – eia.doe.gov)
The average production cost of each kilowatt-hour of electricity by our existing nuclear plants (as of the end of 2007) was just 1.76 cents. By comparison, each kilowatt-hour generated in dirty old coal plants – many of which still do not meet the emission standards set by the Clean Air Act of 1990 – cost an average of 2.47 cents to generate. If your choice for reliable power is slightly cleaner methane (natural gas is the marketer’s term), the cost to generate in 2007 averaged 6.78 cents per kilowatt-hour. (Yes, I know those numbers do not include capital costs, but nearly every nuclear plant in the inventory has paid off all of the construction loans and still have at least two more decades of licensed operation remaining. Not a bad deal at all.)
The only real beneficiaries of the anti-nuclear activities of people like Joe Romm and his mentor, Amory Lovins, are the companies that sell coal, oil, natural gas, wind turbines, and solar collectors. When nuclear plants get built, they take market share away from those sources and change the balance of energy supply and demand in favor of consumers.
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast
Comments are also welcome here. I think there is a slightly larger word count limit, but I have managed to exceed it on a number of occasions. I really need to work on my verbosity.