Why might PG&E decide to destroy Diablo Canyon when it's almost paid off? 1


  1. Excellent description of the situation. Appears to be written by someone with either utility or “insider” knowledge.
    Until someone designs a plan to actually reduce CO2 by throughly analyzing the consequences of each of the proposed rules and their effects upon the entire energy structure in the future the results will be more of the same with increased CO2 emissions, higher prices for NG, Electricity, home heating/cooling, and rolling brown outs with occasional blackouts. Higher electric rates means fewer Heat Pumps and more fossil fuel burnt for heat and hot water. Higher NG usage for heating/DHW means higher NG prices and, in turn higher electric rates.
    President Obama’s plan, with no incentive for keeping NPPs only exabarates the problem. There are twenty NPPs discussing closure now. How many Wind turbines are needed to replace them? With these NPP replacement Wind turbines backed up with NG, what is the actual reduction in CO2 compared to keeping the NPPs operating? What will our tax hike be to cover the subsidies for these additional Wind turbines, Solar facilities along with the subsidies for the “New” Wind/Solar to meet President Obama’s 20% Renewables goal. The people of CA may not be paying a higher electric bill when Diablo Canyon shuts down, but their taxes will go up & UP.
    OT – The number of employees in Health Care now exceeds the number of employees in Manufacturing. IMHO, when you include the rest of the strictly “Service” related businesses in the USA, it is hard to claim we are a “manufacturing giant” any more.

    1. An interesting adjunct to this article is the PUC Intervenor Program. It was originally set up to level the playing field for individuals and citizen groups battling Big Bad Utility companies on rates and anything.

      But groups like the Sierra Club quickly saw this as a cash cow to finance their anti nuclear activity (I guess to supplement the $26 million Chesapeake Energy “secretly” gave them a couple years ago and discovered by Time Magazine). Sierra Club has taken millions of ratepayer money to campaign against nuclear power and other activities. So-called Friends of the Earth are another anti-nuke group sucking up public money from the PUC ratepayer financed Intervenor Program. Smaller professional anti nuke groups like Mothers for Peace, Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility and World Business Academy all leech money for staffing and God-Know-What from the PUC ratepayers. For example, in 2014 Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, a non-stop campaigner against Diablo Canyon, took $372,580 out of the pockets of ratepayers to finance staff, $400/hr lawyers to testify before the NRC, the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee and other overseers of the plant.

      A good investigative reporter or newspaper needs to come in to dig up all this dirt. There must be a gold mine of outrageous funding of anti nuclear groups who claim, to make matters worse, that they are defenders of the environment when they simply work to get the State on natural gas in reality.

      1. One of my links below provides a link to how the NRC will also “provide financial assistance to those who cannot afford to participate in commission’s proceedings but whose participation is determined by commission to be necessary to full and fair proceedings.” Much more about this can be found by searching for “NRC financial assistance to intervenors.”

        This type of activity needs controlled and audited. For example, our state will pay “legal fees/expenses” to the lawyer that represents people needing financial assistance to resolve Handicap accessibility problems. As a result one of the best Mexican restaurants in the county is now closed. They set up in an old tavern, which does not have paved parking. Thus it is impossible to meet the state/federal guidelines for meeting handicap parking and signage requirements till, at a minimum, they pave the parking lot. They would need a hefty loan to meet county building codes to pave the lot, thus they closed. The lawyer got her $15,000 (in Fees and expenses) and moved on to another “violator.”

      2. Re: “A good investigative reporter or newspaper needs to come in to dig up all this dirt.”

        You are totally right of course, however the 800 lb fly in the ointment is that in the U.S. news media culture wearing a “white hat” IS being willfully and cynically antinuclear as the moral champion looking out for the public (safety) This was shamelessly flaunted during the Shoreham affair here — reporters and anchors on WCBS-TV and WNBC-TV here shamelessly made no bones that they personally felt Shoreham was a peril to all life here, and boy did it show in their “reporting.” You get all kinds of warm cozy stories about wind and solar progress here, but the ONLY nuclear story is a hazard alert story. When one watches “science” programs like “Modern Marvels” when they have a show on how clean Toronto is because almost everything outside cars and buses is electric and it’s all due to Niagara Falls — and blatantly totally omits that it’s mostly due nukes providing the juice, or on “How Things Work” when they had a feature on nuclear plants all played under darker lenses and ominously deep rumbling music and a constant badgering about Oh how super careful everything must be – safety – safety -Safety or the eggs will crack!, you see just how deep nuclearphobia has seeped into educational programming as well. If nuclear is to get fair showing in the mass media it’s going to have to do an end round the news and sci shows do its own nuclear specials and lots of Ads. I just can’t overstate this.

        James Greenidge
        Queens NY

        1. It’s a pervasive issue in reporting not confined to reporting on nuclear power – and it’s not just individual reporters, editors and copywriters at fault.

          The CBS Corporation and the Viacom conglomerate which owns Comedy Central (the network hosting the mostly left-wing Daily Show (where HBO’s John Oliver and CBS’s Stephen Colbert got their start) are both owned by National Amusements, Inc, majority shares of which are owned by Sumner Redstone and his daugther Shari Redstone. These two people have contributed millions to the Democratic Party’s National Committee and to Barack Obama’s political campaigns.

          So, when CBS News investigative journalist Sharyn Attkisson began asking the Obama White House questions they weren’t interested in answering, CBS News immediately began pressuring Attkisson to back off. This culminated in a mutually-agreed separation between Ms. Attkisson and CBS News. Edward R. Murrow might be weeping.

          If the flagship news organization of a national television news network essentially declines to back up a 20-year veteran investigative journalist for doing what Bernstein and Woodward were applauded for during Watergate – speaking truth to power, no matter if the ‘power’ is the President of the United States, then OF COURSE, that network’s affiliates and almost all of its competitors will follow suit, either from moral cowardice or political conviction, neither of which have a place in journalism.

  2. I’d love to find out why Diablo Canyon is considered for closure. Unfortunately, this article leave me high and dry. There are no pending lawsuits against Diablo Canyon, only inquiries into the new shoreline fault.

    I’m unaware of any lawsuit that has resulted in actual design changes since I’ve been associated with the plant in 1995. That argument does not hold water.

    As far as the NRC, that’s a federal organization and they treat Diablo Canyon no differently than any other region 5 plant so your comments there don’t make any sense.

    Diablo Canyon runs in a highly regulated environment and, since deregulation, their investment return is based on capital investment. That means that many plant improvement projects have added capital to the base and, essentially, the plant is ready for license extension.

    Leadership is playing this very tight to the vest. You’re not saying what’s going on with the plant at all. Speculation is that they’re concerned about the risks associated with the plant after the San Bruno incident’s expense to the investors. Given that they make money on capital, they could simply build more solar or wind at that very site and make the same amount of money. At night, of course, they will be burning natural gas like it’s going out of style and polluting the environment with carbon.

    America needs nuclear power. We should be expanding the program. The problem with our country, of course, is that we have a four-year energy program not a fifty-year energy program.

    1. @Atom Safely,

      As my other comment states, I have no insider knowledge regarding Diablo Canyon nor was this comment written as a news article. It was a comment that I made based on my experience in the nuclear power and hydro power generation fields.

      You mention that you have not seen a lawsuit that resulted in any design changes. While that might be technically true, any complaint filed with the NRC is a legal proceeding that carries the weight of a court settlement. So the question is then: How many complaints have been filed against Diablo Canyon by the Mothers of Peace with the backing of FOE that resulted in design changes or impacted how Diablo Canyon approached regulatory compliance? How many other industries are forced to deal with complaints from a citizen’s group directly to the regulatory authority with such a low bar?

      Also a quick search indicates PG&E has filed multiple court briefs on various issues specifically due to FOE filings. Again while those court proceedings may not have directly impacted plant design issues at the ground level, they may have impacted designs in the planning stages, operations and regulatory compliance issues.

      The FOE has at least one legal team on retainer. The Ayres Law Group has filed legal briefs for the FOE against the NRC and PG&E in the US Court of Appeals in the Columbia DC district. The Ayres Law Group also makes claims they supplied legal talent for the Clean Power Act. And we already know how the Clean Power Act treats nuclear power. They also claim, as one of their successes, the forcing of the NRC to hold public hearings on the SCE steam generator issues.

      These are the people who have spent millions and a very long time developing strategies to first take down SCE and now to take down Diablo Canyon with the stated goal of eliminating nuclear power completely from the US. They have also had a favorable political environment which will finally begin to change with Reid’s retirement (change at a glacial pace but at least begin to change)

      The relicensing timeline has been on these people’s radar for years. They have spent numerous hours getting ready for the next round of the relicensing process which I understand is now with the State Lands Commission and then moves to the Coastal Commission then finally, finally back to the NRC.

      The NRC timeline has a relicense date of still showing a date TBD!!!!! TBD sometime after 2017 after how many years of reviewing thousands of pages of documents!! No one here can tell me with a straight face that politics at all levels, not true technical issues, aren’t the primary factor in this extended timeline.

      Finally, understand the comment regarding capital investment, however do not agree in principle. While Diablo Canyon may have accounted for any “upgrades” required for relicensing as capital investments for accounting purposes, the questions still remain regarding the need of those “investments”.

      Yes the upgrades meet the technical definition of capital investments since they were undertaken by PG&E to meet their business objective of relicensing Diablo Canyon. But how many of those “capital investments” were driven by the need to meet regulatory burdens or based on the anticipation of future regulatory burdens, not true needs of the plant?

      For example, how many security upgrades were implemented specifically to bring Diablo Canyon up to date on the latest and greatest NRC regulations? How many of those “upgrades” actually enhance or improve plant performance? Zero?

      Just some thoughts and additional commentary. Those of us who work in nuclear power in whatever role are up against a dedicated, organized sector that has spent years accumulating money to file legal brief after legal brief with the purpose of shutting down nuclear power in this country. They have had success with the SCE decommissioning process, as well as the other plant closures. That means we need to understand what we are up against and we need to be on top of our game as nuclear operators and designers.

      Question why has the NRC been allowed to push over 60 significant regulations onto the nuclear power generation sector in the past several years without any legal pushback from the industry.

      It also means many more nuclear people need to learn how to stand up and make their voices be heard.

        1. Well, hey, at least these wise and seasoned investigative journalists devoted the entire last paragraph of the article to NE’s advocates! I mean, golly, whattaya want, equal air time or something?

          Gotta love the “to consider the issues of “health, safety, reliability and cost” of the power plant “on an ongoing basis” part. They ain’t doing that already??? Probably not, because if they were, I don’t think shutting it down would be under considerationt. Or, at least, an easy strategy to sell. Funny, I don’t recall reading about any major problems with this plant. Since 1984? Heck, the corner gas station in my little burg has probably had more accidents involving injuries or damaged health than that NE plant has had. So….is this when a bunch of you flock to NE’s rescue by insulting and demeaning the segment of the population that has been conned into buying this snake oil? Thats really gonna win ’em over!! Or you gonna shush up, and try Rod’s approach?

          1. We’ve tried facts and gentle suasion for decades.  It hasn’t done squat.  It is time to insult the stupid and mock their hypocrisy.  If they don’t want the butthurt, they can shut up or switch to the side with the facts.

          2. You needn’t have answered, EP. I already knew your answer.

            So. Might as well figure the plants gonna close if you’re leading the herd of “rescuers”.

        2. POA…. This is MY PLANT!!! This is MY LIVELY HOOD!!! These are IDIOTS who are so incredibly blind (although I believe the reason is stupidity) that they put all this effort to stop the 4% of our CLEAN energy that they get……when eliminating our power will mean they will burn gas to get it. My little plant, on very little real estate……THREE AND A HALF hours away can power the entire city of Seattle….with some to spare. On top of that….do you think they invited a member of my company to attend? F*CK NO! This is personal, and I’m tired of it.

          1. @Bonds 25

            Agreed. It’s personal. Time for nukes to stop saying “thank you sir, may I have another” each time opponents slap us down.

            On the other hand, we need to take some deep breaths and think about the best ways to take effective actions. We need allies to fight against our avowed enemies.

          2. There is one, only one, weapon you have. Thats accurate information that counters inaccurate information. You need to wield that weapon in a manner that disarms your opponents. Hostility ain’t gonna accomplish that. Until you come up with a PR program that bests FUD, you’re tilting at windmills, and plants are going to fall, one by one. The real enemy is a the set of beliefs that have been implanted in the public’s mind. You aren’t going to erase those beliefs by attacking the holders of those beliefs. Attack and malign, and you only strengthen those beliefs. Hows that help?

            1. @poa

              Information isn’t the only advantage that we have. One of the most important communications tools that we have not fully deployed is to put human faces on the nuclear professionals. We have some terrific people of all kinds. There is even some space for combative, pissed off professionals that are legitimately angry about they way they have been mistreated and misrepresented.

              If we stop aiming at generalizations that are untrue (democrats, environmentalists, leftists, etc.) and instead aim our fire at very specific targets where we can describe specific actions that they have taken to harm both our profession and to besmirch our amazingly capable technology to the detriment of mankind, I think we will sway some people.

              OF COURSE there is also room for attractive people with much gentler approaches. By as the 2016 campaign has shown, there is a pretty big swath of the American population that is angry and is seeking someone to fight back against the people that see a very constrained future for all of the rest of us while they continue to accumulate more power and wealth.

          3. POA……we have provided them facts and have proven their lies to be false…..EACH time they come after us. That’s with the various Anti-Nukes organizations we are consistently dealing with . This is the Seattle City Council. The only individuals at the table are….guess what…..the same ANT-NUKES!!! How can any form of Government involve individuals from only one side of the line? This is like the Government having the NRA make their gun policies. Where was my company spokesperson? Why wasn’t my Company notified? Why wasn’t there any individuals from the other side of the argument present? Why did an individual of the public get laughed at when he made the statement that Nuclear Power is currently the safest form of energy production…..and not only that but its also CLEAN? A person stands up, speaks facts to the CITY COUNSIL…..and gets laughed at!!

          4. “If we stop aiming at generalizations that are untrue (democrats, environmentalists, leftists, etc.) and instead aim our fire……”

            Tall order, if this blogsite is indicative of the caliber of your compatriots. Some of the loudest and most prolific contributers here are apparently unable to recognize the wisdom of your advice. The fact is, due to the public’s misinformed beliefs about the “danger” of NE, this debate is the pucture perfect wedge issue. If NE is a dangerous as the public believes it is, than its advocates are a threat and a danger to the welfare of our family’s health and well being. Which plays right into the hands of those painting the NE industry as only being concerned about profits, to the detriment of our nations health and security. That is the “face” you’re in danger of putting on the workers and advocates of NE. Can there be a more perfectly designed partisan wedge issue? As long as the public sees NE as dangerous, putting a positive human face on those marketing that danger will be an impossible task.

            1. @poa

              I reject your assertion that the public thinks that nuclear energy is dangerous. If a large portion of the public believed that, there wouldn’t be any plants operating today.

              I agree that it can be challenging to determine how to advocate for a technology without putting oneself in the position of being used by corporations. I’m especially unmoved by pleas for help from companies or trade organizations that have clearly stated and acted as if nuclear energy is “just a business” that needs to do much better than break even in order to be retained and developed.

              If it’s just a business to them, then their steady profits are not my concern.

          5. “I reject your assertion that the public thinks that nuclear energy is dangerous. If a large portion of the public believed that, there wouldn’t be any plants operating today.”

            Well, Rod, perhaps my assertion will be more demonstrable five or ten years down the road. Or, at the rate the antis are moving, sooner.

          6. I have to confess I’m getting tired of it, too. I have been writing on various threads related to Fitzpatrick, and VY, and others, using both the polite professional approach and the pissed-off professional approach. It seems to make no difference. I will refute a point or two and they will come back with a flood of links and quotations from Arnie Gundersen or some quack. I will make a point or two in the pissed-off professional mode and the same people come back with the same quotes and FUD from Gundersen and Caldicott and the usual suspects. The information I provide is accurate and verifiable, but almost every time the opposition lapses into rhetorical tautologies, usually with the words of others. To be honest, I’m getting damn tired of it. I don’t have the time left on this Earth to deal with that.

            Very occasionally I will encounter someone willing to listen to both sides and there I will always stay in the polite professional mode. Almost every one expresses gratitude for that. I just wish more of those were out there. It would not be so discouraging if that were the case.

            And no, I’m not butthurt. I understand that those of us who ride into the breach and risk the wrath of public forums will take our share of lumps. Its just that sometimes I have a hard time grasping why there is such hostility among many people towards a perfectly benign and useful technology. I’ve heard all the arguments about links to mushrooms clouds and victims of Hiroshima and the like, but geez, that’s getting to be old turkey. We’re over a half-century past the peak of the Cold War and the duck-and-cover days, and more than that for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Sure, those were terrible and trying days, but have no connection to our energy policy today.

          7. “I have a hard time grasping why there is such hostility among many people towards a perfectly benign and useful technology”

            Thsts because you don’t think about the focus of the fear. Hostility, anger, is usually fueled by fear. Its a defensive reaction. The focus of the hostility you encounter is not the technology. The focus of the fear is the radiation itself, that the public is convinced will be released by an accident, or even just normal operating conditions. That is why the public can’t separate nuclear weaponry from nuclear energy. It doesn’t matter to them how this monster, radiation, is released; by war, or by the employment.of nuclear energy. To them, the danger is the same. Its not how its delivered, its that it is delivered at all. As long as the public believes radiation is dangerous, they will believe nuclear power plants are dangerous. You can’t convince them nucleat energy is safe before you’ve convinced them radiation is safe. And as long as they fear nuclear war, they will fear nuclear energy. To them, they both harbor the same monster.

          8. If radiation wasn’t safe, then there would literally be zero humans on this Earth. A banana isn’t going to kill you……and the K-40 in them gives off a 1.460 MeV gamma ray!!! Every person has been exposed to radiation since they were swimmers looking for the egg.

            Can radiation injure or kill you? Yes, but the exposures must be MASSIVE and acute. Overall, through hormesis (which I certainly believe) medical diagnosis and cancer treatments, radiation saves many more lives than it takes.

            Doesn’t matter, you show all these people the facts that fossil fuels release more radiation than Nukes or the fact commercial Nuclear Power hasn’t even injured a single member of the public in over 60 years of operation and they will laugh at you.

          9. Commercial Nuclear Power in the USA…….

            Idiotic Soviets should never be an argument against American Nuclear Power.

            Fukushima wasn’t a Nuclear Accident……its was a natural disaster.

          10. @POA

            But don’t you think that the fear you note is kind of selective, and it is selectively used by opponents of nuclear? I ask students all the time, are you afraid of x-rays like you get in your doctor’s or dentist’s office? They say no. I ask them if they are afraid of radiation treatment for tumors or other illnesses. They say no. Well, what about smoke detectors, flying on airplanes, things like that? They say no. I ask about radiation from a nuclear plant, or used nuclear fuel. They say they are afraid of it. I ask them why, its radiation wherever it comes from. I get blank looks. Then I prod them a little, asking, well, perhaps you think the radiation from a doctor’s x-ray is to help you, or maybe radiation you get from flying at 35,000 feet across country is “natural” and so not harmful? A few shyly raise their hands, for which I thank them for their honesty and courage. Then I ask, is electricity you get from a nuclear plant useful, does it make life easier and more pleasant for you, and is it important to you that it has no carbon released to the environment? So, then is not the “radiation” used to good purpose, like an x-ray or cancer treatment? Mainly blank looks again, but a few head nods here and there. I’ve tried a lot of approaches to this conundrum, but I haven’t been able to break through, at least not very often.

            Tell you what, anyone reading this, I’ll ask for your help and suggestions. I have a half-day of tours and demonstrations for science teachers at a research reactor coming up on June 23rd. It part of the local power company’s (AEP) energy workshop for teachers. Anything you want me to ask them about their perceptions of what we’ve discussed? Any suggestions on how I might do things differently? I assure you all of my presentations to teachers and students are done sincerely and politely with the objective of educating, not belittling. And that works both ways.

          11. I would first inform them that THEY are radioactive…..always have been, always will be. Then I would inform them the earth is radioactive…..always has been, always will be.

            This is what I tell first time Nuke workers before whole body counting them. I show them the print out that shows K-40 when the count is done. It AMAZES me how many people have NO IDEA they are radioactive.

          12. “But don’t you think that the fear you note is kind of selective, and it is selectively used by opponents of nuclear?”

            Of course it is, and of course they do. Thats the rub. Thats what you have to overcome. My whole argument here is that you don’t overcome it by walking in the room and announcing that everyone in the room that doesn’t know the truth is a jackass, a leftist, a democrat, or a false environmentalist. Now if you walk into a room full of propagandists, then all bets are off. Nothing wrong with calling a liar a liar. But insulting and demeaning those deceived by the deceivers? Keep that crap up, and watch one plant after another get its doors chained shut.

          13. POA

            It would be very easy to convince Joe Whoever if they worked just one outage. The safety culture is second to none, you would realize radiation wont kill you at low levels, although the ALARA concept would leave you to believe every millirem counts (it doesnt from a true risk perspective) and the individuals would get a sense of how truly amazing Nuclear Power really is.

          14. Well, damn, POA.  That is the most insightful, worthwhile and downright helpful thing I’ve ever seen you post here.

            Thank you.  I mean that.

          15. Well, EP, I truly appreciate you saying that.

            Its been my experience that when I finally hear what someone is saying, it doesn’t mean they haven’t said it to me before.

            Usually, it just means I wasn’t listening in the first place.

          16. “… you don’t overcome it by walking in the room and announcing that everyone in the room that doesn’t know the truth is a jackass, a leftist, a democrat, or a false environmentalist.”

            Well, FWIW, I have never done that with people I interact with in person. We try to keep the discussion non-political, even if someone else brings it up. I do challenge them to examine the basis of their beliefs if they give rise to logical inconsistencies, but try to do it in a non-judgmental manner.

            Sometimes I get a bit testy on blogs when it is clear one or more respondents is simply a troll or a conduit for spreading FUD from Fairewinds websites (e.g., parroting information and providing a link to it).

            What I find difficult to penetrate is the seemingly negative reflexive reaction to all things nuclear power-related which are in some ways more benign than other things they seem to accept without question. Engineers tend to look for consistency and symmetry in things and when faced with an asymmetrical and/or inconsistent position or belief system, we have trouble approaching it using the tools (logic and reason) we have been trained to use. So perhaps the answer is to think less symmetrically and consistently to effectively communicate an alternative viewpoint.

            OTOH, looking back at all that, it seems like, well, yuck, a bunch of pop psychobabble. Or am I wrong?

          17. RE: Public support for nuclear.

            I’m less sanguine about the level of public support for nuclear. Some may think it’s necessary (i.e., a necessary “evil”) but only a minority have any genuine enthusiasm for it. At a minimum, most believe that it is potentially dangerous (unprecedentedly so) and that it may be a good idea but only if “done right”, i.e., to impeccable standards. That is, they support nuclear “in principle”.

            In that sense, the support is shallow, something that polls like Bisconti miss. And thus one event is enough to erode support significantly.

            I think its analogous to the death penalty. A majority supports it in principle but if you ask them what error rate (executions of innocent men) they are willing to accept, many are appalled. They only support it in principle, i.e., if it’s done perfectly. In other words, you actually DONT support the death penalty!!

            In such situations, when something is only supported in principle (i.e., only if perfectly executed), it is extremely vulnerable to being regulated to death, and to blackmail. Opponents will make “well meaning” suggestions for more and more regulations and requirements, all of which are readily accepted since the majority finds any risks or errors to be intolerable. Refuse to fulfill everyone’s wish list and the safety card WILL be played. Unsurprisingly, we’re seeing the death penalty being regulated to death, to the point that it is effectively not practiced anymore.

            A case in point concerns SMRs. My view is that SMRs could be nuclear’s savior but only if certain regulations and requirements are relaxed. This is justified given SMRs fundamental safety advantages as well as the much lower potential source term. And it is required because SMRs give up economy of scale.

            Given the issues I discuss above however (i.e., the public’s uneasiness and lack of genuine support for nuclear), getting any significant relaxation of nuclear regulations and requirements is going to be a very hard sell, politically. Who’s for “cutting corners” with nuclear? Opponents will have an easy task.

            Genuine support is supporting something in practice, not theory. It is willingness to accept finite risks. Zero risk would not be required. Being less risky than the alternatives would be enough. Not treating (or reacting to) nuclear pollution in a *qualitatively* different fashion than all other types of pollution would be a sign of genuine support (by the public and policymakers). we clearly have a long way to go.

          18. RE: Engaging with open minded people vs. responding to dedicated opponents (and lies).

            As many here have said, I/we start off by treating people with respect, answering their questions and concerns with valid information, etc.., when we meet them in person. Even on the internet, if someone appears to be reasonable and/or open minded, I respond to them in a measured manner.

            But when you encounter outrageous statements or lies by an “unreachable” person in internet discussions, it presents a problem. You feel compelled to answer the lies, and also to show the appropriate level of outrage if the statements/lies are egregious. And yes, many of us, after many years, are starting to run out of patience.

            The point isn’t really how they will respond or be affected. You’ll never reach them. The problem is that many more neutral, open-minded people may be reading in on the discussion, and they may be affected by the tone of your responses.

            But even with that in mind, it could be argued that if one doesn’t respond to outrageous statements with at least some degree of outrage, you in a way lend credence to it that it doesn’t deserve. Observers may view it as a measured discussion between two reasoned points of view. You need to inform everyone that what was said is absurd, outrageous and/or utterly at odds with the truth.

            I’ve been taught that emotional content is actually more powerful than facts with respect to changing people’s opinion. If you don’t show some genuineness and passion in response to such lies, i.e., if you seem overly cautious and reserved, some may take it as a sign that you are hiding something.

            There are emotional tools as well as factual and logical tools (and I’m told the emotional tools are more important). The opposition has used the emotional tools far better than we have, and we need to get better at using them ourselves. Their success is a clear sign. I don’t claim to be an expert at those emotional tools, and it may be that in many cases my tone is not optimal. But we need to try, and to learn.

            I’ve been thinking about what POA has been saying, and perhaps I’ve gotten impatient, the result being a tone that is too angry and confrontational. I may try to take a more measured and patient tone, but it’s complicated, and it’s not clear what the best approach is in each situation.

            In any event, I will be thinking about it. And I will try to find common ground and get a genuine discussion going with people I don’t entirely agree with (initially), whenever the opportunity presents itself.

          19. Some may think it’s necessary (i.e., a necessary “evil”) but only a minority have any genuine enthusiasm for it.

            Jim – No, mild, favorable support is what you should be going for, because that’s the best you’re going to get.

            Who in their right mind is going to get excited and enthusiastic about something as boring as baseload power generation?! It’s even less exciting than watching paint dry.

            Electricity is something that Americans notice only when they don’t have it. Do you get up every morning and celebrate that the lights turn on and the coffee maker works? No. Of course not! The only time you think about the lights is when some sort of storm takes out the power lines. Even then, unless the power is out for hours, most people are only mildly annoyed that they have to reset their digital clocks.

            If you’re worried about excessive regulation, then you’re talking about a completely different battle, fought on a completely different field. I’ve never seen a rally or march with protesters chanting demands for extra paperwork. The general public does not understand and, frankly, is not interested in the details of regulation. That’s something that has to be taken up with the regulators themselves and the politicians who oversee them. Most of this is going to be done out of view of the general public. This is where lobbying and standing firm with the regulator are what win battles.

      1. One thing we are all guilty of is not organizing political opposition to whats happening to nuclear – a power sources that is the vital medicine planet earth better start taking soon if it wants to keep supporting life.

        How many of us write letters to the editor on this subject? Yes, I’m looking at you 🙂
        Your knowledgeable letter will be read by thousands. Any change like the one we propose – changing national energy sources – must come from the people. Letters to the editor and OpEds are read by the people. Your upcoming letters should strongly urge readers contact their government representatives – local, state and federal. Give out email addresses and phone numbers of representatives. Keep a file with this contact information to put in your letters and OpEds.

        You don’t have time to write a letter? Okay, just take your latest knowledgeable email on the subject and make a few changes for publication in a newspaper. Easy and painless.

        This national change must start with the people. We’ve got a Congress that has expressed wide interest in and support of nuclear power recently. Back them up. They need to hear from voters to take concrete action like funding promising nuclear technology (you know, like the five
        year (!) program that gave us the nuclear Nautilus submarine.

        Curing planet earth of its fossil fuel induced terminal “cancer” is worth a lot of our effort and national budget money. Or is survival just too expensive? (Read James Lovelock’s “The Vanishing Face of Gaia” or “The Revenge of Gaia” to learn from a scientist who understands our planet better than anyone.)

      2. Hiring a GOOD PR firm might not be a bad thing, either. There’s no downside to it at all, the anti-nuclear cottage industry has accused what they call “Big Nuclear” of a coordinated public relations effort which, if it exists, is not very productive.

        Big Press, however, is weighing in on the anti-nuclear side of the issue. The only avenue of mass communication left, really, is the Internet. Messages on the Internet (especially wildly popular sites such as YouTube) can be fine-tuned to reach local communities because it’s not just the NSA who know where you’re logged on from – YouTube recently sent me nicely-done video ads for a tarpon rodeo sponsored by a dockside tavern in my small coastal Mississippi town.

        If the nuclear industry would like to get the minds of the American public, two things are necessary:

        (1) candor. It’s important to the nuclear industry to admit the bad things it’s done, to take away the perception that Big Press would like to create that these things are actively being concealed by nuclear advocates. A good investment for any public relations copywriter would be “The Greenpeace Book of the Nuclear Age,” to indicate the thrust of misinformation peddled by the journalistic left, but also to show what we have to own up to in the way of legitimate concerns, and to show those concerns no longer exist and have been addressed.

        If pro-nuclear messages are candid with their viewers, it’ll also have the effect of making those viewers sensitive to the issue of anti-nuclear propaganda.

        Stewart Brand’s documentary “Pandora’s Promse” is a good movie for pro-nuclear advocates to view and study – his movie’s candid, yet also hammers on the fact that nuclear power’s less toxic, has a lower carbon footprint than any other power generation source, kinder to wildlife (both big windmill plants and huge focused solar arrays kill birds by the ton), and cheaper than ‘renewable’ energy sources – he makes a good case that if Humanity is serious about ending global warming, nuclear’s the way to go.

        2) We have to saturate the public’s attention with high-quality message.

        I emphasize “high-quality” because some political Internet sites actually do the opposition’s work for them with palpably stupid messages aimed at the lowest common denominator of the public. Our message ought to be understandable to an eighth-grader (the technical writing world’s standard of the desired level of understanding you write to in user manuals), yet very reasonable and sympathetic.

        We don’t want even the appearance of viciousness or trying to return the anti-nuclear lobby’s practice of making personal attacks. Instead we ought to make a message almost everyone can understand and identify with – the true statement that nuclear power is the only power source reliable enough to replace fossil fuels which can also serve as a baseline power source in a future where renewable power supplies a large part of the nation’s power.

        It might actually be desirable to cover the damage to wildlife due to focused solar power (where bird deaths and injuries number in the thousands because birds’ evolutionary programming causes them to seek out bright light and warmth) and collisions between birds and windmill blades.

        We’d gain at least some allies from the wildlife conservation community, especially hunters with a massive tax and charitable contribution investment in conservation of migratory game birds, and we could actually influence viewers who now are inclined to press for renewable power without considering its effects on migratory birds and other species.

        We also need to get people to consider that windmills require LOTS of rare-earth metals, and mining of these metals actually creates a tailings stream rich in naturally radioactive material such as uranium and thorium ores, all of which are co-minerals with the more important rare earths such as lanthanum – the ones important to windmill dynamo construction. If we’re going to take these elements out of the ground anyway, instead of doing as we do now and store them as low-level radwaste in Nevada, why not use them as nuclear fuels and reduce the hazards to migratory fowl?

        These are but a few considerations I’d like to put out there as way of getting the hearts and minds of the Internet audience where they belong – in favor of a safe, rational energy source such as modern nuclear power.

        1. @loupgarous

          Thank you for joining into the conversation.

          FYI, While Stewart Brand was one of the subjects of Pandora’s Promise, it wasn’t his documentary. Robert Stone was the creator and director of the film, which focused on the reasons why Stewart Brand, Michael Shellenberger, Gwyneth Cravens, Mark Lynas and Richard Rhodes decided to move from being antinuclear to pronuclear.

          1. Thanks for the correction. Steward Brand has taken the opportunity to make the environment case for nuclear power in his own Web site, Long Bets. Unfortunately, his bet, that Friends of the Earth would come around to endorsing nuclear power, was made before the tsunami in Japan swamped the Fukushima reactor complex.

            I pointed out there that even had Fukushima not happened, FoE’s business model prevents them from divorcing themselves from the antinuclear movement. Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other big advocacy groups are much more heavily invested in soliciting funds from people whose minds are already made up on nuclear power than on a truth-tropic assessment of the facts.

  3. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but my neighbor is a welder at Diablo. Yesterday I had dinner with him and his wife at a 4H spaggetti feed fundraiser. He is completely in the dark about what is going on at Diablo as far as the future goes. It was kinda interesting talking to him, because he is under the belief that the government funding provided for decommissioning is more profitable to PGE than continuing to run the plant is. Is that possible? So…if PGE passes decommissioning costs onto the consumer, AND gets decomissioning funds from Uncle Sam….hmmm…maybe there is some real economic incentive to kill the switch.

    1. @poa

      I’m not sure what your friend means by decommissioning funds from the government. As far as I know, there is no such program. All US nuclear plants are required to establish a decommissioning fund that is isolated from other corporate accounts and is audited by the NRC on a regular basis, but the money put into those funds comes from the company, not the government.

    2. Tell your friend to contact the Pipefitters Union president Larry Murray to learn facts about the plant’s challenges. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is also very active in keeping the plant open. All unions are getting involved now. They are a great source of plant support since it is their livelihood AND they have money to put behind activism, newspaper ads, signs, rallies, and lighting a fire under State government elected officials who want union votes.

      The San Onofre plant closure in southern California (near San Diego) blindsided workers who were dumbstruck suddenly learning they were out of good-paying jobs one day. They trooped up to Diablo Canyon begging for work.

      Somehow we think tomorrow will continue just like today – NOT! We have to DO something, get active, meet, march, make noise and educate the public. Saving and increasing magic nuclear power is the most important issue in the world. If this issue fails, no other issue matters.

    3. @poa,

      The only money coming from the federal government that I know of is not really federal money. Every ratepayer who is provided electricity by a utility that owns nuclear power plants has paid an infinitesimal amount into the Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF) through their utility bill. That money was supposed to go to operate Yucca Mt. Instead it is coming back to the utilities for the on-site used fuel storage facilities. The fund sits at around $24 billion.

      DOE was sued years ago for not meeting its legal obligation of taking used fuel. Several utilities sued the government for not meeting that obligation since the federal government, primarily the DOE itself as well as the EPA, had failed to open Yucca Mt by 1998. The utilities won and the DOJ is now administering payment to the utilities for the costs of having on-site storage facilities.

      However, the money trail is not straightforward from the NWF back to the utilities/ratepayers since Sen. Reid has blocked anything and everything regarding Yucca Mt. at every opportunity. Due to contortions by Congress, as lead by Sen. Reid, that NWF money may have been spent elsewhere or is locked up as was discussed by Blue Ribbon Commission. So technically the money being paid to the utilities for current storage of used fuel is actually coming from the DOJ settlement fund, not the NWF.

      Additionally, in 2013, the DOE was forced to stop collecting the fees for the NWF, which it fought tooth and nail partly because it was using that money for other purposes and partly because it cut off millions in research money many PhD’s were using for their non-stop research into the geologic formations of Yucca Mt. As a side-note, a former NRC chairperson was able to ultimately receive her PhD partly due to her work on synthesizing other Yucca Mt. reports, which then became her reason for not supporting either option of deep storage at Yucca or reprocessing.

      Here is a recent GAO report on used fuel that provides a starting point.


      Here is the link to the Blue Ribbon Commission:


  4. I’ve worked at several nuclear plants over the years. One thing that impressed me is that they all seem to copy one another like sheep. These recent plant closures seem to be like Dominos with one falling after another.

    Too bad. They won’t be building any more coal plants. Common sense and the experts tell us wind and solar won’t be enough.

    In a few years, I expect the utilities will all be scrambling at the same time to all build new nukes. The only thing that has to happen is for natural gas to go up and a few unreasoning environmental types to die off.

  5. Several programming notes:

    First, thanks Rod for providing a forum for many of us to air our views and opinions. Also, a belated note on the new format. Looks great.

    Secondly, I do not have insider information specific to Diablo Canyon. The closest I came to working for Diablo Canyon was when I had just started interviewing for a position a several years ago but then accepted a different position to be on the ground floor of a SMR opportunity, which then subsequently did not pan out resulting in another career change.

    The closest I came to working with Diablo Canyon was when the company I worked for a number of years was bidding for the initial ISFSI project work. I can honestly say when we lost, we were disappointed but not terribly. And that reason was due to the issues that were looming for the winning bidder to deal with the seismic issues combined with the non-stop filings that we expected from the Mothers for Peace and the Sierra Club. That bidding process was my first exposure to the extent of the active anti-nuclear campaigning by groups such as Mothers for Peace and FOE. In fact, FOE was not a group I had even paid any attention until we were working on that bid.

    Third, this post was never intended to be a “news” article. It was a comment based on my knowledge and experience in the nuclear and hydro fields where my last two jobs in power generation have been negatively impacted by wind and solar subsidies. Also the comment was based on my experience with SCE when I was working on the initial ISFSI integration and commissioning project at their site. As I have one or two contacts still there at SCE working on those issues, I have made an effort to stay up-to-date with CA nuclear power issues in general.

    Finally, as stated above, my commentary in this post as well as all my other comments are based on my last two jobs that have been negatively impacted by wind and solar subsidies. I have been part of teams that prepared cost assessments for several projects for upper management to use in their decision on which project would receive funding. My portion was preparing engineering and/or project management costs that would then be rolled up into the overall assessment or proposal. The twin 800 lb elephants in the room during those discussions were the impacts of state RPS (renewable portfolio standard) requirements and the money on the table for wind and solar subsidies. So while not a decision maker, I have indirectly experienced the effects of wind and solar subsidies, if not directly.

  6. Is the state still trying to get DC to install cooling towers? Salt water cooling towers sound like a nightmare to me, and where to put them? Just one more capital cost that pushes towards a decision for retirement.

  7. Atom Safely makes some interesting points. 1) it doesn’t seem that lawsuits are ongoing right now at least not as an immediate cause 2) the NRC is also not the immediate cause.

    Other comments stated that NRC left the relicensing as “TBD”. A quick look at the site shows that the next big step for relicensing is the EIR. That step is of course up to the company, not the NRC to make sure it happens and to submit as part of their relicensing.

    The post suggests that FERC has something to do with this. Can anyone illuminate what FERC rules are being referenced?

    I think we all need to apply Occam’s Razor here: the simplest reason is the most likely one.

    It’s mentioned in the post briefly, but the real situation here, and across the country, is that natural gas and renewables get nice high spot prices and nuclear does not, natural gas and renewables aren’t penalized if there’s downtime, nuclear is.

    If nuclear did get compensated for its value to the grid, this would all be completely different, not just in california, but in illinois, massachusetts, etc etc.

    Our whole nation would be allocating resources differently if there weren’t such massive externalities that weren’t accounted for. /economist speak

    1. @J.S.

      Atom Safely makes some interesting points. 1) it doesn’t seem that lawsuits are ongoing right now at least not as an immediate cause 2) the NRC is also not the immediate cause.

      The most immediate issue right now is that Diablo Canyon needs an extension of a lease from the State Lands Commission for the use of the surface and submerged state lands used for the salt water intakes and discharges for the plant. Those leases were issued with an end date that was supposed to coincide with the expiration of the initial 40 year plant operating license from the NRC, but it was never extended during the very lengthy and contentious construction period. Without those leases, the plant would have to shut down several years before the end of its current operating license.

      The next meeting of the Lands Commission is June 28. It looks like it will be a doozy.

  8. Two things have to happen at the political level to change the present course:

    1) The contention that wind/solar always = less CO2 needs debunked. Only when backed by hydro which is the exception no the rule.
    2) That nuclear (and hydro) be rewarded same as wind/solar for being CO2 free.

    The problem is that even though number 1 should be pretty simple even for lay folks to understand, most don’t have the attention span to absorb it.

    I tried it out on mu family and it worked but they were somewhat of a captive audience.

  9. PSEG’s Izzo sees a twisted irony in some of the policy decisions in place.

    “You cannot, based on the laws of physics – forget the laws of Congress – replace those nuclear plants with more wind,” he said. “So you’ve created a system where, in the interest of reducing carbon, you’re going to shut down nuclear plants that you replace with natural gas. They had the best of intentions with a really bad outcome.

    “It’s bad on two fronts: carbon and economics. The short-run cost of operating those nuclear plants is less than the long-run costs of building a gas plant. So you’re paying higher prices for more carbon.”

    There you go.

    1. @Jim Doyle

      I don’t know why so many people give “good intentions” credit to those who designed our current markets.

      We must remind people that Enron’s “smartest guys in the room” were major influencers. Their actions in CA and before bankruptcy prove to me that “good intentions” were not their motivating forces.

      1. I agree the good intentions part is BS when it comes to the utility execs.

        However congress is a bunch of buffoons and has created a distorted market that penalizes nuclear.

        The business guys will do what makes $$s period

        1. @Jim Doyle

          What makes you think that congress created the market? IMO they only did what they were paid to do by business lobbyists.

          Some of those representing specific financial interests may have been disguised as green non-profit groups.

          1. Its a chicken and egg argument. Businessmen lobby for favors for their business and congress supplies the pork.

            It takes two to tango

  10. Great article, Rod! It clarifies how nuclear opponents have been using legal and political means to drive up the cost of nuclear. I’ve been arguing that political/legal actions, as opposed to economics per se, are the real reasons for plant closures. (At a minimum, such political/legal actions are the reason for “poor economics”). And I may use this article as a reference.

    I would go one step further than saying that NRC imposed ever increasing regulatory burdens w/o any cost-benefit analysis (as EPA always has to do). If those burdens cause nuclear plants to close, and be replaced by fossil fuels, the “benefit” (of new requirements) may be negative, before even considering the cost. That should somehow have to be considered in the analyses. NRC needs to remove its blinders, and consider how overall risk and harm is to be reduced, not just potential harm from nuclear itself.

    The fact that nuclear opponents have used the legal system to such great effect in increasing nuclear costs still makes me wonder if there is not *some* way to use the legal system in response. I suggested this in a comment on an earlier article, and many said that we couldn’t sue these groups over their “opinion”. It still seems to me that these suits are *actions* (not just opinions) that are having a tangible negative impact, so some legal response could be possible. It also just seems so one-sided, in that they can use lawsuits to drive up nuclear costs but we can’t use that system in any way, in response. There has to be a way.

    There may be one way, but it pains me because the legal action would involve targeting, once again, who I view as the victim of all these actions, i.e., the nuclear utility.

    My understanding is that when you engage in a major project like building a power plant, you have to do an environmental impact analysis (required by NEPA, I think?). Well, isn’t *shutting down* a nuclear plant a major decision that has significant environmental consequences? Shouldn’t that decision also require an EIA? Especially given that shutting down a nuclear plant almost certainly has negative environmental consequences, as it will almost certainly be replaced by fossil fuels?

    Previously, Rod said that the state may ask PG&E for a major EIA to defend the decision to keep the plant operating, and that PG&E may refuse to go to the trouble and close the plant instead. Well, shouldn’t an EIA be required in that event too. If PG&E decides to close the plant, couldn’t we (nuclear advocates) file a suit claiming that such a decision would be a violation of NEPA (or some other governing statute)?

    As everyone here knows, any valid EIA would show that closing the plant would have negative environmental consequences (as the effects of ~2 GW of fossil generation FAR outweigh any negative impacts of DC operation, such as water intake issues). These groups sue all the time, whenever there is an energy decision that they disagree with, and their argument is often over negative environmental impacts. Couldn’t we sue to require the plant to stay open, using similar arguments?

    Perhaps I’m grasping at straws….

    1. @Jim Hopf

      You may be onto something, but NEPA may not fully apply. As I understand the law, it is directed at agencies of the federal government. If they take a major action, they need to perform an EIS.

      So far, the only real federal action involved in the closure decision is acceptance of the plant owner’s two required letters, one stating that all fuel has been removed and one stating that the plant has been closed permanently. The act of accepting those two letters and amending the operating license to being possession-only hasn’t yet been considered to be a major federal action, but perhaps it could become one.

      The owning utility could be free to stop buying fuel and operating the plant, but perhaps there could be some way for the federal government to step in with a willing buyer for an electricity production facility that provides such a valuable benefit to the shared environment.

      Just speculating here…

      1. Rod,

        When they built the plant, didn’t they (the company, not the govt.) have to do an EIA? If so, what law required that? I didn’t think that the govt (e.g., EPA) performed the EIAs for private (corporate) projects.

        Couldn’t that same law be used to justify requiring an EIA for closing the plant?

        1. @Jim Hopf

          I’ve attended several public meetings hosted by the NRC to explain their draft or final environmental impact statements related to either early site permits or combined licenses. (North Anna 3, Calvert Cliffs 3, William States Lee 1 & 2).

          The company is responsible for preparing a report that is part of the input documents for the regulatory agency, but the agency is the one that prepares and releases the environmental impact statement.

          1. Rod,

            I just spoke with someone somewhat knowledgeable on the subject, and he agrees with your characterization. The applicant must do the analyses (and pay for them), but the govt. (regulatory agency) makes the final determination and grants the license. Thus, the govt. is responsible and is thus the only entity that could be sued, I suppose (can you even sue the govt?).

            He also said that they way it would likely work is that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) require an EIA for shutting the plant, but instead would have to focus on the EIA for the new gas generation that would replace the nuke.

            Perhaps part of it is that you can require and EIA for a proposed activity, but you can’t require one for a non-activity, or ceasing an activity. After all, you need to get permission to DO something. Not doing something, not so much, the idea being that entities should be able to call it quits and cease activity (or course, that doesn’t apply to decommissioning and other legacy responsibilities, now does it).

            Of course, the additional gas generation would “pass” the EIA, in that CA has an emissions reduction goal and cap-and-trade program in place, and they will “still” meet it. The real truth being that if the can meet the goal while shutting the nuclear plants, the goal obviously wasn’t aggressive enough. Nothing changes the fact that the net effect is ~2 GW more fossil generation.

            One final idea, I believe that the EIA process requires you to weigh all possible alternative actions, and if one of those is less harmful than your proposed activity, you fail the analysis. Well, perhaps one could say that the entity proposing the new gas generation should have to consider buying Diablo from PG&E and operating it (instead of bringing the new gas generation online) as one of the alternatives. Any valid analysis would show that to be the least environmentally harmful option.

            1. @Jim Hopf

              Unless I am way off base, neither gas nor coal plants require a federal license. There is thus no point at which a federal agency needs to perform a “major federal action” so there isn’t any National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirement for a federal EIS.

              There are numerous state permitting processes that require some kind of environmental assessment, but those are generally much lower barriers and take far less time and research than what is put into an EIS associated with a nuclear plant license or early site permit.

  11. “The company is responsible for preparing a report that is part of the input documents for the regulatory agency, but the agency is the one that prepares and releases the environmental impact statement.”

    “The company is responsible for preparing a report” – usually the company and some very high paid consultants. Typically in the $Millions in todays market. The EAR has to address both Federal and State environmental laws/regulations, except where the Federal regulations (NRC) superceeds.

    “a report that is part of the input documents for the regulatory agency,” – The Environmental Assessment Report (EAR) is then (typically) reviewed by the NRC staff and/or NRC paid consultants, which then submits questions, concerns and “recommendations” for changes to the “Draft EAR.”
    After several (many) and several years, the Draft Impact statement will (typically) be released for public review at which time the FOE, UCS and everybody that hates nuclear power gets to make comments. At this point, the company gets to address the impact on the cooling tower bird impacts, the red winged Tsetse fly impact and the silver backed tree frog, and 100 other imaginary threats and concerns, Eventually, (hopefully) the NRC approves the Impact Statement, assuming their budget allows for these reviews [think Yucca Mt.]. My experience is that 99% is written by the “company.” The NRC contribution is mostly boilerplate, formatting and the few changes to address NRC and intervenor concerns.


    1. I think Rich’s comment accurately describes this process. And this is where the “legal bump-in-the-road” fits in to the whole picture on “backfitting” a legal challenge for requiring another look at reconsidering the EIS with respect to overall big picture of decommissioning a plant.

      These are in fact legal proceedings, conducted by the ASLB. And to file a “claim” with ASLB on and issue (so ASLB will hear your claim) about something already “ruled” you must have “Legal Standing” on the issue or ASLB does not accept your claim as valid.

      This actually makes sense, it prevents “someone” from re-opening already court settled issues. The kicker is if you bitched at the initial public input process over the issue, but lost on the ASLB ruling, by doing that you established “standing” on the issue. So anything that potentially opens that issue to public input again, the ASLB will hear your complaint again.

      The pro-antis establish “standing” on every issue. The Utility involved obviously has standing also. But I think this is why somebody else, like a “class action independent group” would be hard pressed to get ASLB to consider a claim wrt to EIS for a plant shutdown. The ASLB is not likely to want to open that can of worms, they will say you don’t have standing on the issue. And if you had a concern, you should have bitched during the initial public input session about the issue.

    2. Also meant to include this fact.

      This rule is inapplicable to situation considered in B-139703. Current situation which involve availability of regulatory commission’s appropriations to provide financial assistance to those who cannot afford to participate in commission’s proceedings but whose participation is determined by commission to be necessary to full and fair proceedings. Have received several petitions from intervenor groups seeking financial assistance to pay the fees of attorneys and technical experts. The purpose of this letter is to request your advice whether the nuclear regulatory commission possesses the legal authority to provide financial assistance to participants in its adjudicatory and/or rule making proceedings and…


      Search “reimbursement of legal fees for nuclear intervenors” for examples of reimbursements [Collusion?] with the intervenors.

      And, somewhere up-page the question was asked “Why do so many plants just fold to the NRC demands?” Well, when they are demanding you spend $5, 10 Million to fix something that you know is not broke and does not need fixed and you are losing $500,000 0 $1,000,000 a day in lost power AND $500,000 – $1,000,000 a day additional in contract penalties for non delivery of power are you going to sue? How long will you fight? Then, once one plant gives in the the stupid requirement, e.g., single phase issue, all the rest are stuck. Never, in my 40 years have I heard of several companies teaming up and fighting. I am also not aware of the giants like Exelon fighting either.

      1. “Then, once one plant gives in the the stupid requirement, e.g., single phase issue, all the rest are stuck. Never, in my 40 years have I heard of several companies teaming up and fighting. I am also not aware of the giants like Exelon fighting either.”

        Yes, they all copy one another, lambs led to the slaughter,…..sheep.

        Easy prey for environmental wolves.

      2. Another thing I have noticed in working with reactors for decades is the go-along-to-get-along mindset is also driven by an almost pathologically paranoid desire to avoid negative publicity in the press. There were times that this seemed almost as important as the financial issues. But I can recall meetings where managers would almost immediately come to agreement to do some unnecessary thing because if they fought it the anti-nukes would call of their friends in the media and pass the word. IIRC the discussion would be something like, you know, if we don’t do this, the papers will be printing headlines like “Reactor Owners Fighting Against Safety Improvements”. Then everyone would get scared and approve the expenses and head for the doors. Another one swept under the rug, at an industry-wide cost of tens of millions. And it further widens the disconnect between sound engineering (which should win public approval) and doing things just for showtime, which is more Entertainment Nation than sound science.

        1. Next to the still persistent suicidal Ostrich insistence not to tap pro Ad agencies to cleanse and hawk nuclear’s image to the mass public to save itself and careers, I think one of fatal failings of the nuclear community was not taking public perception on par with any financial management issues operating their plants. Without the public — hence pol favor — on your side your operations are constantly waging a losing battle. I ask this — do the counties and media around Zion and VY and Ft. Calhoun mourn their passing? Did they kick up a storm that such was pending? Maybe had those plants been a lot more aggressive justifying their existence and operations to a science-unwashed public, that public would’ve been just a little more understanding and forgiving and willing to ride out any fiscal pot-holes those plants might incur, SONGS a case in point.
          You know it’s REALLY bad when your clean-air boasts doesn’t cut the mustard with a FUD-fed public that isn’t shedding any tears watching you go. The public eats wind and solar even though it’s more expensive because they regard it as benign and open and clean. You can’t go broke selling bottled water here in NYC even thought the Catskill tap water is about as good as it gets. People simply perceive bottled is safer than tap for your kids. Solar installation prices are crazy out here on Long Island and so are the sales because people believe the Ads that if can help unhitch from the looming Chernobyl of Indian Point the premium is better. Windvane politicians catch this feeling and belief and unsympathetically blow it back right at the NPPs and their owners despite the dry facts and stats of NPP performance and safety which shrivel under constant media references to Chernobyl and Fukushima. It’s NOT a given that nukes will be welcomed back with open arms even if gas prices soars. The nuke FUD factor is way too much a pucker factor for the irrational uneducated public to shun gas anytime soon so watch wind and solar soar in sync. The public doesn’t give a dilly-wilt about NPP stockholders or NRC rules or fiscal balance sheets and it’s just plain stupid trying to peddle that as a hook for public favor. The prime/only thing the public cares about regarding NPPs is the hyper-hyped issue of Safety. End of story. One of the awful TV Ads against Shoreham featured a woman with two tots in tow in a mall parking lot while there were images flashing of TMI and overhead maps of Long Island and a clogged Long Island Expressway and an ominous voice-over; “When it happens, how will you get them off the island?”
          Catch the phrase; WHEN it happens.
          Long Island Lighting never rebutted any of these ads. Nor anyone else. Ever.
          Just like right now, all over.
          We are in the thrones of NPPs shutting in rolling snowball mode and yet there’s still no mass media nuclear educational Ad anywhere. I don’t mean company self-promotion Ads, but Ads that educate the public about the facts about nuclear in a wide mass media universal way. This isn’t Vegas; What happens in Fukushima doesn’t stay in Fukushima in the NPP world. One stain stains all. NPP communities must hook together and smash FUD together like gopher heads. Look, I give every hope and prayer to the marchers, but in my gut the horse has long left the barn for that to be effective. The public has to be hit where marchers can’t go — in their living room and bedroom TVs with persistent hard hitting non-cutesy educational Ads. There are no substitutes now. Time is way long past playing Ostrich heads in blogs to what must be done out the real world. This is last ditch time. I hope the nuclear community gets it.

          James Greenidge
          Queens NY

          1. “the irrational uneducated public”- bingo

            Its a tough obstacle to overcome. Politicians react to that uneducated public. I’m not sure the public en masse is educable. So we have to pick something simple to get heir attention.

            So rather being anti-wind/ anti-solar I think the present push by some states to level the playing field by rewarding all CO2 free generation equally is the only hope.

          2. “I’m not sure the public en masse is educable”

            If that was true, FUD wouldn’t work. “Education”,when it comes to the media influenced public, amounts to marketing. And those peddling the FUD are far better marketeers than the NE industry has been.

            Remember how successfu BP was at pushing the false impression of good intentions and a cleaned up gulf? How all the sudden their logo turned green? Well, thats a quite a few millions , upon millions, spent, wisely, in hoodwinking the masses. Until the NE industry is willing to pony up that kinda “educational funding”, the plants are gonna continue to close.

          3. One big problem with individual utilities advertising is that many are “controlled” by the Public Utility Comission or whatever they call it in your state. Many states also have Muncipal Utility Districts, or Public Utility Districts NOT to be confused with utilities that are “for profit” with share holders and often called “public ally owned.” In most states the “Board” on the “Muncipal” utilities are elected and the utility is not under the control of the PUC., e.g., CA & NE, may also be others.
            I have worked at both and talked to employees of many others. The consensus is that the PUC frowns on advertising of any type, since the utility is a “Monopoly.” Most will allow advertising of PSA notices concerning water shortages, power shortages etc. However, few allow advertising that seems to be for the purpose of increasing profits. The Boards on the Muncipal utilities are just as bad. However, their motivation is getting rejected, and thus keeping the rates as low as possible.
            Years ago, 2000?, the NEI had a Green Energy campaign extolling the virtue of Nuclear Power. The utility I worked for got questions about their contribution to this campaign , what it cost, why, etc. and quit participating in it shortly afterwards. I seriously doubt that all of the utilities could get “permission” for escape flak from contributing to a campaign promoting Nuclear Power, even it it was only extolling the fact that it was ZERO CO2. Attitude of your PUC may vary.

          4. Rich says @ June 10, 2016 at 8:22 PM
            Apologies my Spell checker did it again.

            “However, their motivation is getting rejected,”
            Should Be
            “However, their motivation is getting reelected,”

            I hate the spell checker on this Win 10 Tablet. It thinks it knows the word I want and changes it after I see it in black and white on the screen while I am writting the next word. How do I get a good one?

        2. “Until the NE industry is willing to pony up that kinda “educational funding”, the plants are gonna continue to close.”

          This is a valid point but one of the problems is that I cannot put my finger on a really large, powerful, worldwide representative company of the “nuclear industry” as I can with your example of BP. BP, like Shell, and Exxon, are well-known, multinational, trillion-dollar companies whose revenue stream is probably 99.9% petroleum products. So when any of these have a public perception problem they can mobilize tremendous resources to head it off and reframe the narrative to their advantage, something like, “yeah, we screwed up, but here is what we’re doing about it and why we are so great”, and a huge Gish Gallop of information follows, usually enough to obliterate most opinions to the contrary.

          Is there anyone analogous in the nuclear industry? There is GE, and they own the BWR technology, which is a tremendously versatile and useful implementation of LWRs. But how much of GE’s worldwide revenue comes from nuclear sales? I’m guessing certainly not 99.9%, although I don’t have the figures. GE is into a lot of things, and their focus seems to be on those that make money and burnish their image as a major player in the effort to fight climate change by being the biggest, baddest wind turbine maker out there. Combustion Engineering was bought out by ABB, a Swiss firm, and its divisions sold off piecemeal. Westinghouse? A shadow of its former self, sold off to BNL and now mainly owned by Toshiba.

          That leaves the plant owners themselves. There are now maybe 90-100 reactors operating in the US and each power station is more or less an island onto itself, having perhaps 500 to 1500 employees at a given site. Even if all of those were mobilized at a particular plant for public support, we might get maybe a few hundred people. Greenpeace can mobilize a few dozen umbrella groups and put thousands of people on the streets. The “education” they get there is free media coverage and a public forum to spread their message.

          Finally, there are grassroots operations like Atomic Insights and Yes Vermont Yankee and the other pro-nuke sites, plus individual efforts like my own done in the context of my former employment (university teacher). We do what we can, but as you can imagine when you add up the numbers it isn’t in the same league as the professional agitators.

          Professional organizations like NEI and ANS? Well, we’ve talked about that before. I really don’t know what is happening there, whether they feel it isn’t their job or if they are crying poor. In any case, you’re right, I don’t see much evidence of even a limited campaign to save local sites, like IPC or Diablo Canyon. We know where organizations like Greenpeace and NIRS and MFP get their funding, even if it is laundered three or four times, and it isn’t grassroots. Can we get a nationwide pro-nuke organization funded to the same levels as those, which can launch campaigns at a national level? My sense is that grassroots support probably won’t do it.

          1. >> . Can we get a nationwide pro-nuke organization funded to the same levels as those, which can launch campaigns at a national level? My sense is that grassroots support probably won’t do it. <<

            Way too late for that. You need crash emergency action headed by pros. BP knew who to call to scrub their image quick after Deepwater and it wasn't Ghostbusters. If I was a ex VY worker I'd be sticking voodoo dolls outside NEI & ANS. "Whether they feel it isn’t their job" indeed!

          2. That would be nice. The WNA ads might be a starting point, but I have a feeling they’d get the “too little too late” brush-off. So what then, do we just lie down and die? Do we take the existentialist viewpoint and keep on butting up against the absurdity, knowing that “the important thing in Life is not triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”? Is there a third way? Like many here, I don’t want this technology to die at the hands of politicians and FUDdites who offer no practical alternatives other than poverty and misery. But if what we should do is beyond our grasp (to hear it told), what are those of us who have dedicated our professional lives to making this technology a blessing to mankind (which it is) to do in the face of the onslaught?

          3. Wayne SW:

            It’s too late for some battles, sadly, but the war still can be won IF the nuclear lobby/community/community stopped shying off the obvious and did what the forementioned BP Gulf situation did to turn public perception right around right after that disastrous gulf rig explosion that did more environmental damage and killing than Fukushima ever did. The public NEEDS to know things like that, just like nuclear’s sterling efficiency and safety record and all the rest, and the ONLY way to get the word out are mass media educational
            Must this be constantly drilled like a cracked Elvis record? This isn’t rocket science — and it WORKS! Ask BP Gulf and the Gas companies! Non-SPX educational Ads are NOT expensive if the head honchos of the top nuclear advocate (supposedly) organizations knocked heads and DID something pronto like sharing the cup and picking up the phone to Mad Ave! It’s absolute unsympathetic insanity for nuclear’s merits to go in the dark this when the life preserver is well in hand! NEI & ANS, you tweedie brothers just boogle the mind! I’d be spitting bullets if I were a VY or Clinton worker hearing about your phantom “support” and “public education” programs. Are you two showing up with banners at the march I wonder?? I’m just glad you two aren’t promoting other American products! Again, this is last ditch time for nuclear power in the U.S. to FIGHT BACK, and there’s no white knight in the White around the bend to bail it out!

            James Greenidge
            Queens NY

          4. Sunpower to supply 69 MW to Shimizu Corporation for installation in Japan

            Stuff like this is springing up all over, like with Yahoo and PayPal and Amazon and Gillette and Apple and Oracle and several breweries, all trying to prove that you don’t need nuclear. When is nuclear gong to fight??

          5. Probably best to provide a professional ad agency with a set of talking points and let them come up with the attractive and creative manner of presenting them. Avoid a lot of talking heads and go large on positive visuals with a simple voice-over that does not get bogged down in jargon and a plethora of numbers. Our forte is engineering, not marketing. We can’t cobble together an attractive message as well as the pros. The problem we have had is, it is always “somebody has to do it”, and, as noted earlier, eventually “somebody” becomes nobody if the will to step up and be “somebody” is lacking.

  12. @Rich says June 10, 2016 at 8:22 PM
    “I have worked at both and talked to employees of many others. The consensus is that the PUC frowns on advertising of any type, since the utility is a “Monopoly.” Most will allow advertising of PSA notices concerning water shortages, power shortages etc. However, few allow advertising that seems to be for the purpose of increasing profits. The Boards on the Muncipal utilities are just as bad. However, their motivation is getting rejected, and thus keeping the rates as low as possible.”

    I agree with what you are saying… but. I think what Utility Commissions frown on is putting this advertising cost into the “rate base” like an O&M cost that rate payers cover. If Utilities chose to take this cost out of their profit side, rather than apply it to the debit side, why would Utility Commissions even care?

    Utilities have simply chosen not to do it this way. If Utilities don’t like the results they need to do something Utilities are not very good at doing… CHANGE.

    I do agree with other commenters in that it is a bigger problem than a single Utility can solve alone, nor should they have to do it alone.

  13. It’s amazing how almost all California and Oregon’s newspapers and radio blogs take the nuclear march as a freaky parade of “renewable unwashed” folks on the company dole. They cite how sun and wind fests crank out celebs by the barrelful but this march barely squeaks out one. No good PR. Not good at all. Good luck marchers and remember — the media doesn’t believe you!

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