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8 Comments

  1. Good post Rod. The way to support nuclear power is to attend public meetings. We live in a democracy and it is privilege to participate.
    Several years ago I attended a public meeting for Calvert Cliffs Unit 3. The public support was inspiring. The speakers supporting the plant provided compelling personal accounts of how having Calvert Cliffs Unit 1&2 had benefited the community. Speakers against the project were from places like DC and reading canned diatribes.
    Since Calvert Cliffs Unit 3 is not in my backyard, one of the things I was interested in was the reaction of the NRC regulators conducting the meetings. They were fair and gave both sides equal time. These people run meeting all over the country. How many times have they had to listen to Gunter say the same thing? When the local sheriff, hospital administrator, or school superintendent praise the power plant; it carries weight.
    One deviation in the order of speakers was allowed by the NRC moderator. The county commissars were accused of corruption in no uncertain terms. One county commissar was allowed to answer those charges. He explained how Calvert Cliffs Unit 1&2 over 30 had turned the county from being one of the poorest to one that had the good schools, good libraries, a very good hospital, and good roads with some of the lowest property taxes in the state. Yes, the county commissars voted a 50% reduction of the property tax rate for 15 years for Calvert Cliffs Unit 3. He stated how much income that was. He also explained how much the county would get of 100% of nothing. If providing a stable tax base for his county for 60 years was his legacy, he would be proud of it.

    1. Kit – (believe it or not, I guessed it was you before you added the comment to claim it)
      Thank you. It is indeed a privilege to participate in democracy as well as to defend it. Public meetings are one way to remind people that democracy is not an annual, one time effort to cast a vote. It is a constant effort to think, share and contribute to the discussion and to give course corrections to the elected and appointed government employees who represent us and do the day to day work that is required to keep a complex nation running. We need the good people at the NRC and the Army Corps of Engineers to know that they do important work, that it should be done with care, and that it should be done on time and at a reasonably efficient cost.
      (I put the fuzzy qualifier of “reasonably efficient” on that last because a focus on cost reduction often leads to a very inefficient choice of resources – like hiring an insufficient number of people to complete tasks under the faulty assumption that is all too prevalent in government management circles that people cost money but extra time does not. That is one of my pet peeves and one of many reasons for my decision to retire from government service several years before being told I had to leave due to high year tenure.)
      I do have one minor quibble with your lead in comment “The way to support nuclear power is to attend public meetings.” I would have said “A way to support nuclear power is to attend public meetings.” There are many ways to support nuclear power including writing a blog and participating in the discussion on that blog. Doing an excellent job as an employee at a nuclear facility is another way to support the technology.
      I am also not quite sure of your use of the word “commissar” versus “commissioner”. That particular word has strong associations – at least for me – with government officials in a far less free and democratic nation that no longer exists.
      Finally – though I have no doubt that the commissioners you describe were doing what they thought was the best thing for the community by agreeing to the reduction in property tax rate, I wonder if they were a bit overmatched in the negotiation? Did they really have to go that low to attract the investment? Did the plant owner really have as many site choices as they said they did? Did they all have the same kind of advantages like existing plants, existing workforce, existing community support, and existing transmission corridors? I do not know the answers to those questions, but I believe that government officials are sometimes too willing to give away the store to big business and forget the impact of their property tax decisions on smaller businesses and individuals who are not given any opportunities for discounts.

      1. The the word “commissar” was a mistake, I was referring to the elected representative of the county. He seems very capable of negotiating too. Constellation also has a choice of where to build the first plant of several plants it is planning.
        Furthermore, the property tax rate will return to the normal rate about the time, Units 1&2 are being retired.
        Just for the record, I do take offense when a public servant such as yourself does not understand that the lower rate for a large base reduces the property tax for everyone. Running productive jobs out of the community reduces increases the tax base for the remaining people who earn a living. I take offense being your first reaction is to question the ethics and motives of people.

  2. Rod, if you set up a nonprofit institute to fight full time for nuclear energy, I’ll be a founding member! You’re a great writer, principled activist, and experienced technology operator. Can’t ask for a better set of qualifications.

    1. @Laurence – thank you for the vote of support. I am thinking about ways to do something similar, but I would prefer to set up a tax paying organization that is not as restricted in its operation as a non-profit. My current home state has recently passed a law enabling a new structure called a “benefit corporation” that combines some of the traditional goals of non-profits with the goals of traditional corporations.
      http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/running_small_business/archives/2010/04/benefit_corp_bi.html
      I am considering a reincorporation of AAE, perhaps with the thought that it could stand for Adams Atomic Evangelists. 🙂
      Instead of club membership, participants could be owners with all of the rights and privileges that go along with ownership, including participation in the organization’s goals and missions and the opportunity for dividends and capital gains that also make you feel good about what you have accomplished.

  3. I agree that the nuclear industry should start financially backing pro-nuke advocacy groups to counteract the misinformation and distraction techniques used by well funded anti groups. It would really be a game changer if there was an umbrella organization that helped support all of the great nuclear bloggers and activists, allowing us the time and resources to really make an impact. There are an incredible number of folks already spending their personal time dedicated to promoting nuclear out of true passion and using their own resources.
    In the long run it would be one of the best investments the industry could make, considering that historically the intensity and time frame of regulation has been in direct proportion to public support or concern.
    Active Public Support for Nuclear= More Nuclear Reactors in Less Time

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