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  1. Rod Adams wrote:
    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is an independent regulatory agency whose focus is the safe use of radiation and radioactive materials.

    This is part of the problem as well. When regulating nuclear power plants for the production of electric power, the (narrow) concern of the NRC is the utmost safety of those power plants. Unfortunately, the concern is NOT broader issue of how safely electric power is generated. If the action (or inaction) of the NRC results in increased use of natural gas for power generation (and its all too common hazard of explosions) or coal (and the increased hazard of illness or death from asthma), this is of no concern to the NRC.

    Large hazards from the alternatives to nuclear power generation are of no account, so long a nuclear power generation is very safe. If the NRC were given the broad mandate of regulating nuclear power plants to maximize the safety of power generation (not just the safety of nuclear power generation), regulatory action would look a lot different.

    1. That’s a really critical point – our aim is relative safety and low emissions of the entire market. I don’t know how best to achieve that by regulator structure. But the more we can get prices to reflect what we want…

    2. Hear, hear. Absolutely.

      I was at a meeting with NRC at one point and asked the NRC representative whether NRC would entertain a public comment (on an NRC nuclear regulation or plant license decision) which basically makes that point. That is, that NRC should consider the overall impact, across the electricity sector, of the decisions it makes. In other words, to challenge the mission of maximizing nuclear safety alone, vs. overall safety. He said that such a comment was indeed legitimate, and should be submitted.

      Not that I hold out much hope that such an action would make much of a difference….

  2. The Congress should fund NRC commensurate with the country’s goals to encourage clean, safe, ample, reliable, affordable power. Tens and tens of billions are spent on “renewable” fallacies. Simply directing and funding NRC to study and license new technology shouldn’t cost more than a billion dollars over a decade. That’s GAO’s number.

    1. Hear, hear!  Especially, efforts to promote new technologies should not be subject to cost-recovery efforts from existing licensees.

    2. It’s frustrating that the amount of (much trumpeted) govt. “support” for SMR projects, is far less than the licensing costs alone for those projects (i.e., the costs imposed by undue regulations and review scope). If you really support SMR development, how about *as a start*, covering all licensing costs?

    1. That’s a good point. I wonder if any other nation charges 90% of regulatory costs by the hour to regulate any sort of industrial safety.

  3. I’m afraid (Rod, et, al…) that my view is a bit more discouraged. Based on what’s discussed in the article below, it’s hard to be positive about nuclear for the foreseeable future, outside China, anyway:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/02/25/energy-price-war-spreads-to-gas-as-us-shale-storms-global-market/

    Now gas is, or soon will be, cheap everywhere. And all indications are that it will be for some time.

    The only potential consolation (for me, anyway) is that this cheap gas will remove every last excuse for continuing to use coal. Perhaps a multi-decade gas glut will largely kill coal off. Then, when gas prices rise again, the political atmosphere will be such that we will not respond by returning to coal, but instead will increase the use of nuclear and renewables.

    1. @Jim Hopf

      I had a different response to that article. It clearly indicates the incredibly large motives that gas marketers and suppliers have to try to demonize other fuel sources so that they can, as soon as possible, return to the “good old days” and sell numerous cargoes of LNG at $17-$20 per MMBTU. They need those kind of prices to make enough money so that their massive expenditures in shale and liquifaction infrastructure pays the kind of returns their their shareholders expect.

      They know that their competitive sources have substantial inertia; once they are shut down they can be held out of the market for years. Neither coal nor nuclear will be able to respond WHEN increasing supplies hit their maximum output and increasing customer gas demand from temporarily low prices and destruction of competitors overshoots.

      Gas prices have already been low enough long enough that some supplies are not going to be produced; drillers are running out of financial runway and are declaring bankruptcy.

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    Renewables people are masters in marketing. Unreliable intermittent generators whose output is all over the place, and usually badly correlated…

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