There is no doubt that there will be some effort to fight against any new nuclear power plants here in the US. There are people nearing retirement age whose entire adult lives have been spent in the professional battle to slow the development of nuclear fission based power plants.
There was an article published in the December 28, 2007 issue of the Houston Chronicle titled Opposition stirring against new reactors that describes a recent announcement by a coalition of groups that they intend to file as intervenors in the NRC process to review the Construction and Operating License (COL) for two new reactors in Matagorda County on the site of the existing South Texas project.
Austin-based officials with the Sierra Club, Public Citizen and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition said they don’t yet know if they will intervene in the review separately or under one name. But they don’t plan on sitting on their hands.
“We need to draw a line in the sand here in Texas and create a new nuclear resistance movement to say no to the nuclear regurgitation,” said Karen Hadden, director of SEED.
The article, like most of the Houston Chronicle articles posted at www.chron.com accepts comments. So far, supporters of nuclear power are the only voices being heard in that discussion. I added my $2 worth and also wrote a brief note to the author of the article. You can find my comment, but I thought I would share my letter to the author:
Dear Mr. Fowler:
I read with interest your recent article titled Opposition stirring against new reactors in the December 28, 2007 online edition of the Houston Chronicle. We all should expect that there will be plenty of interest in slowing down the new plants – after all, they will change the landscape of a very large marketplace if they are successful.
The opposition groups will have no problem finding financial backers – I am sure that Chesapeake Energy, for example, realizes already that new nuclear plants pose a much larger threat to their future prosperity than the TXU proposed coal fired power plants that they so effectively opposed. Every time a new nuclear plant comes on line, it will reduce the market for natural gas by about 60 billion cubic feet per year. (That assumes an 1150 MWe plant operating at a capacity factor of 85% compared to a gas plant with a heat rate of 7,000 BTU per kilowatt-hour.) At a recent market price of $7.00 per million BTU, that gas would sell for about $420 Million.
If NRG is successful, it will help enable similar successes by Exelon, TXU, and Amarillo Power. If I have my figures right, there are 6-8 new plants being proposed for Texas already. Chesapeake and all other gas producers in the area have a lot to lose. Of course, coal suppliers will also weigh in as will the people building massive wind farms out in the western sections of the state.
Should be a fun battle to watch, but please do not let the front groups fool you into thinking it is all about their concerns for long term storage, nuclear weapons proliferation (the US has more weapons already than it needs) and long ago corrected management issues. The battle is going to be fought over a huge financial prize – the future of the Texas energy market.
Editor, Atomic Insights