1. Rod,

    I wonder how much the Wellinghoff decision cost Dominion. I am no fan of his since his stated goal is to force “renewable’s” down our throats whether we need the power generation or not. That also makes him an advocate of natural gas. What really burns me is that he is able to champion himself as an advocate of the consumer even as power rates are increasing in certain areas due to the increase in un-reliable wind and solar capacity.

  2. Welll then, it would seem a new approach to nuclear is in order. Kinda like a stocking stuffer for Christmas type of nuclear that is called a battery vs reactor. Doing the same things and expecting a different positive result is …..nuts! Being a qualified “Nut” however has some advantages. All our gadgets are battery powered and what is one more battery or gadget for the market place. A Thorium Plasma “Battery” and an electric car in the stable might perk up the auto and nuclear energy market place. Even a “Battery” powered blimp with a red nose carrying tons of toys……and batteries to all those gadget junkies for Christmas would be a boost to nuclear energy. Wanna take a ride? ……Ho….Ho…Ho!

    1. Well, the first thing you’d have to do is get rid of that $4.7 million fee per reactor, regardless of size, that Rod quotes above, before anything in this area could ever move forward. That is something that the SMR industry is working on, with NRC. Is mPower making any progress on this front, Rod?

  3. Here is the experts at Forbes calling Bull on the low natural gas price where cost of production is now almost 3 times the market price due to Big Oil dumping.

    Google “were-headed-to-8-00-natural-gas”

    I’d like to see more analysis

    1) What are the actual costs in running the plant
    2) What is the distribution of the sale prices of the power
    3)How much do they make from gas and wind sales Ie are there sweetheart deals for fixed price, cost plus and pride of place contracts not available to the nuke.

  4. While it’s true that more coal capacity has been shut off than nuclear, many utility executives (e.g., Southern) have said that when natural gas prices go back up, they’ll be switching those coal plants right back on. It is true that some of the coal plant retirements referred to in the articles about Kewanee sound somewhat more permanent (since they are due in part to new pollution requirements, and many cases involve modifying the plants to burn gas). I wonder what fraction of the coal reduction is permanent.

    My main question is, why is it that nuclear plants are never mothballed (the only exception being Browns Ferry, I suppose). When they’re shut down, they’re shut down for good. With the coal plants on the other hand, they’ll be fired right back up if conditions change. Might Dominion consider mothballing the plant, maintaining the option of restarting it WHEN natural gas prices go back up? I’m guessing that NRC is somehow responsible, making it enormously difficult to reactivate a plant, in some way. Rod already mentioned the fact that is costs more to maintain a plant in “mothballs” (correct?).

    One final comment. I think the govt. should do what it can to prevent old, ultra-dirty coal plants from firing back up again. At a minimum, they should not be restarted just because using gas instead is slightly more expensive. At least some weight should be given to environmental impacts. It’s long overdue. EPA should be more like NRC, and somehow make it at least somewhat of a burden to restart old coal plants (esp. ones that are clearly not needed). This is one reason to favor Obama.

    One idea of mine is weighing environmental costs when deciding the order of plants in the dispatch queue (see link).


    1. @ JimHopf

      Let’s look at what happened at Bruce Power in Ontario. 2 reactors from Bruce A were left idled for 17 years.

      They are now being brought back online with a December 2012 target date for full operation.

      I say we keep our options opened. The same goes for Gentilly II in Québec.

      Did I forget to mention that come Jan 01 2013, if all Bruce Power A and Bruce Power B reactors are online, this nuclear plant will be running at the highest capacity among all nuclear plants in the world? Way to go Ontario !!!!

    2. @JimHopf,

      Your question is one I have been wondering as well.

      Why can’t the NRC and Dominion work out an arrangement for a mothballed nuke?

      Recovering from a long term cold shutdown is not impossible. The only issue I see is labor but since many plants are using rotating staffs and contract labor it would seem possible for Dominion to move a crew temporarily from North Anna or Surry to get things on the path to restart then build up the crew.

      The one major issue would be reactor operator requals but Navy Nuke ships have to requal everyone after a major overhaul as a requirement to restart. So it isn’t like the concept is untried. And the cost of having qaul’d reactor operators on staff versus having to rehire them would seem a productive cost analysis to perform.

      A quick read of the NRC’s decom policy is that Dominion has two years between filing the paperwork and full decommissioning take place. If I am reading those rules correctly, that two years could be spent productively setting up a policy for mothballing nukes for restart capability. By then natural gas will be above $5/MMBTu

      1. I don’t know, but it sounds like they want to raid the decommissioning fund more than they want to allow for future recovery of installed capacity. IOW, it’s a short-term profit scheme.

  5. The greatest irony of this shutdown is that the gas market conditions are temporary (the result of something close to a Ponzi scheme in the shale-gas industry, now in the process of collapse), while the shutdown of Kewaunee would be permanent.

    The breakeven price of pure-play shale gas is close to $8/mmBTU, according to the analysis I see. At 60% thermal efficiency (LHV), that’s about 4.5 cents/kWh just for fuel. Based on the statement, Kewaunee would be economic at that price. The two other factors of LNG being substituted for diesel for heavy trucks and possible LNG exports would drive NG prices to $8/mmBTU or more. Shutting Kewaunee is a very short-sighted action.

    1. This document about fast cycling CCGT contains some interesting info about their economics on page 6 and 7 if you read carefully enough :

      So despite being the best in kind fast cycling units, they are still some significant costs associated with each cycle, above the raw price of gas. The one they boast on page 4 (Pont sur sambre) has been bankrupted by the current gas prices in France.

  6. The people of Wisconsin will sleep better knowing that less million-year deadly waste will be created in their state. Cows milk will taste sweeter, Milwaukee’s best will win best American Beer, and the Packers will be Super Bowl Champions. All because more electricity will come from safe natural gas and clean coal.

    1. There is no such thing as “clean coal”. Any kind of hydrocarbon combustion is going to produce nitrous oxides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. With coal you also produce tons of CO2 and SO2, as well as arsenic, mercury, and lead in the fly ash. You are no friend of the environment if you advocate the use of natural gas. Methane is a terrible greenhouse gas. One ton of methane released to the atmosphere results in the same degradation as 70 tons of CO2. Fugitive emissions of methane from the extraction step alone drawfs the carbon footprint of nuclear.

        1. We are too used to conversation with the anti nukes – if nothing else who prove Poe’s law with high and regular frequency:

          Poe’s law, named after its author Nathan Poe, is an Internet adage reflecting the fact that without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between sincere extremism and an exaggerated parody of extremism.

          Poe’s law states:

          “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law )

        2. Sorry. Too many battles with the idiots. My apologies for taking a sacrastic post too serious.

          1. I thought he was serious for more than a few moments.

            Lol If I logged back in with a different moniker and started a rant about nuclear power killing millions of babies, low dose radiation poisoning the earth for millions of years and Japan and the northern hemisphere needing an evacuation would it be anything we haven’t heard in the last few months !!??

          2. @Tucker : Recently I found out that the proper helicopter-borne instrumentation can allow to draw a precise map of plutonium and uranium fallout, not just cesium.
            See this http://www-dase.cea.fr/public/dossiers_thematiques/cartographie_radiologique_heliportee_et_autoportee/description.html (sorry French only, but the sensibility array that show this will detect a level of 10 Bq/kg of U238 is not hard to understand). It’s been used around Chernobyl in the past. Probably the NNSA has the equivalent equipment but I only saw values that separate each isotopes coming from samples, and only gamma levels in the global maps ?

            I thought how the use of this around Fukushima could stop the rumors of massive hidden fallouts, and then I realized that no call for reason can do that, that the nuclear opponents will still claim that there exist hot particles that no detector can see.

            However still maybe more efforts on that kind of thing would be useful in order to convince the ignorant, but reasonable person that the nutcases spreading such rumors are indeed nutcases.

  7. Across the pond, France granted a while ago a permit to operate the Fessenheim 1plant until 2021.

    Now the French president Hollande wants to close it because it is the ‘oldest’ plant in France.

    Last week, nuclear union workers went on strike over this saying that there will always be an ‘oldest’ nuclear plant.

    Today, a major paper in France – ‘Le Figaro’ – had an article on the matter. You should see the comments. 100% pro nuclear and anti green.

    I reiterate that reversing the nuclear culture is not going to happen in France.

    1. Well yes, but Le Figaro is the main right wing newspaper in France (reasonable, and senseful right wing, but still right wing), so what they print is unfortunately really not what will convince Hollande. Actually he could even make a point of doing what will enrage Le Figaro in order to win votes on the left.

      And the departure of Lacoste from the nuclear security agency is bad news. He had been there for 20 years (with several organizational and job title change, but during all this while, he was the top guy responsible for nuclear security), that longevity had given him the power to just ignore short lived blasts of wind from the government.
      Actually strategically the way he lashes out in this interview might not be a good thing. The ASN is supposed to be perfectly neutral politically, so the next president will more or less have to exaggerate his position in order to show he is.

      OTOH Holland will decide who the next president will be, and in this interview Lacoste makes sure everyone realizes how important that decision will be, and that Hollande can just not select anybody. But the next holder of the position will very certainly not, unlike Lacoste, be a graduate of the Mine school, that has the reputation of being the abusively influent top engineering school that force-feeded France with nuclear (X-Mine actually, but … the subtleties of this are just too complex to explain shortly).

  8. I can only surmise, but I would bet that they have been hit by the NRC to evaluate and protect for a seiche, or an earthquake related seiche on Lake Michigan $XXX Million (with the first digit larger than 5). Add that to the equation that includes cheap gas and “free” subsidized wind power that the green wingnuts would gladly pay for over NPP improvements and it is very easy to throw in the towel.

    One major reason for not bringing a NPP out of mothballs is that the clock is still running on the 20 (+ extension if any) license when shut down. The NRC has never given back this wasted time. Additionally ALL “improvements” the NRC issued while mothballed would need to be installed and tested and a fairly extensive re-start test (NRC approved) would need to be done. This would be a very big deal – ala – TMI-I restart, Davis Bessie restart, etc. – many millions of dollars.

  9. I am wondering what effect if any can be attributable to the utilities being forced to buy renewable power at way above market rates.

    The renewables then need balanced by natural gas plants. So in effect you are buying gas fired generation along with your renewables.

  10. As a Wisconsin resident I have witnessed a new power line in northern Wisconsin added to bring power down from Canada ( just completed a couple of years ago). I think that power is generated by hydro plants in Saskatchewan. Meanwhile subsidized wind plants are springing up with horribly bad economics (Its not all that windy in Wisconsin) I know I used to windsurf a lot and the only reliable winds are in the early spring and fall. And meanwhile the DNR makes it nearly impossible to run things like small scale hydro which we have an abundance of. Might impact fishing you know. And a nuclear ban while trainloads of coal still go each day to the giant coal fired plants such as Portage. I remember once in college I was riding past the Portage plant with some friends and they saw the giant stack at Portage spewing coal dust into the air and they said “Look at the Nuke plant over there” I had to explain that the nuclear plants don’t have smokestacks. Some of the best fishing I am told was near the water outlets into lake Michigan from Point Beach and Kewaunee.

  11. Still no total truth about the REAL costs of nuclear power, like what to do with the deadly but used fuel, or what to do when the corium leaves the containment.

    Nuke power has only been affordable to us users due to government subsidies which are due to the government/GE war machine demanding nuke weapons.

    Since “foolproof” design is impossible, nuke power is only an oops away from catastrophe at all times, not to mention the intentional destruction by subversives.

  12. … “Fukushima Frenzy” ??? … “overly subsidized wind power”???

    This article and majority of pro-nuke comments shows the U.S. Navy is peopled by pro-nuclear nit wits …

    Briefly: the subsidy to nuclear power from the anti-constitutional Price-Anderson Act is the single, largest and most outrageous subsidy ever offered to any business sector, even one that is responsible for contaminating the entire planet to detectable and dangerous levels; that was never ‘necessary’ (except to rapidly scale up our nuclear weapons stockpile) or (to recover sunk costs spent buying up uranium mines in the 1940’s) …

    Nuclear Power should never have been sanctioned outside of undersea strategic defense assets, space travel or medical research …

    Under several false premises (low radiation level exposures are harmless) (only alternative to carbon based power) etc. the evil nuclear genie has infested the American heartland and will kill its host …. and it was never anything but a gigantic capitalist hoax!!!

    Nuclear power plants have no smokestacks??? No they have giant stacks which emit invisible, ionizing radiation that can combine with water vapor and come back to earth spawning cancers and mutations in people, animals and food crops and which will be bio-concentrated ad infinitum …

    No mention of solar in this thread … which works in Germany, which lies to the north of Wisconsin …

    Sorry to blow the party but this sort of pro-nuclear nonsense is what will kill us, stupid nuclear navy shills!!!

    peace …

  13. Well said Edward C. As of today the pro-nukes probably still tell u that the Fukushima damaged reactors r under control, TEPCO n the Japanese government r reporting the true condition of the situation to its people, n THEY KNOW HOW TO N CAN FIX THE PROBLEM!

  14. Someone needs to learn the difference between direct and indirect subsidies versus insurance premiums.

    Wind and solar receive two forms of direct subsidies and at least one form of indirect subsidy.

    So, yes it is correct that wind is overly subsidized compared to other generation sources.

    The first direct subsidy is the PTC that pays $22 per MWh of electricity generated. That money is paid directly to the wind developer/owner. So it is a direct subsidy from the US Treasury (i.e. taxpayer) to the wind developers. That money goes directly into the pockets of the wind farm owners not necessarily the land owners who are leasing their land to wind developers.

    PTC’s were enacted decades ago to help an “infant” industry and has provided billions (with a B) to the industry over its lifetime. AWEA has been campaigning to continue the PTC for their members for years with all sorts of horror stories but wind can no longer be considered an industry in its infancy. Even the DOE is finally agreeing to stop using that language. Thankfully Congress might finally have reached the end of the line in trying to justify a direct cash payout to an industry that has been in operation for over 20 years and now claims GW’s of capacity across the nation.

    The second direct subsidy is the Renewable Portfolio Standards that at least 29 states have enacted into law. These laws (using various names and acronyms) require utilities to purchase power from or own specific, legally defined, power generation sources. Those sources are required to be less then 30MW per individual generation point source but the laws exclude small hydro.

    There are only two sources that typically meet this legal requirement: wind and solar. Biomass can qualify but 30MW biomass plants are generally not cost effective considering the tax and cash subsidies received by wind and solar so do not receive the same level of attention. The RPS’s also requires utilities to increase the percentage of power delivered from those small point sources to be from these approved sources on a regular basis.

    California is looking to force their utilities to increase that percentage up to 33% sometime this decade which is already projected to cost the ratepayers billions unless hydro is allowed to be considered “renewable” under the law.

    Why are RPS’s a direct subsidy you are probably asking…..Because the rate payers in those 29 states are having to pay, or will pay in the near future, higher power bills to subsidize power generation sources that either are not needed or are being built when better power generation sources are available. Most states are seeing lower power demands but are still requiring utilities to build new generation sources to meet the RPS mandates.

    The fact that wind, solar and biomass are allowed under the RPS’s but large and small hydro are not is not only an example of favored technology (indirect subsidy) but also an example of the level of hypocrisy of the “green energy” movement. Every time the renewable energy figures are released by the EIA, the total amount, which includes hydro, is publicized but the specific amount of wind and solar generation are conveniently buried in the news reports. Why…. Because they are small compared to the amount of hydro. Yet the same groups will not allow the RPS’s to be redefined to include hydro since that would kill wind and solar industries as they would no longer be needed to meet state mandated RPS goals.

    The third and indirect subsidy wind and solar receive is from other generators themselves. The fact that neither source is able to produce high-quality, reliable electricity 24/7/365 must be dealt with by the grid operators. The grid operators must usually rely on the relatively inefficient natural gas peaking units to fill in for the 75% of the time when wind and solar are unavailable due to uncontrollable weather patterns. This lack of power production but reliance on others to maintain a stable grid is an indirect subsidy since the wind and solar generators do not pay for this service. Instead it is the ISO’s such as BPA, ERCOT or ISO-NE, that by their charter must maintain a reliable grid 24/7/365. Those operational costs of dealing with cyclic wind and solar are passed along ultimately to those who pay for the ISO which at the end of the food chain are the ratepayers.

    None of these direct and indirect subsidies are available to nuclear power. Price Anderson is an insurance policy that the utilities pay an annual premium for not unlike fire or car insurance. Not once during the history of the Price Anderson act including TMI has the caps even come close to requiring Congressional involvement

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