Rick Perry might convert DOE into an ENERGY leader
President-Elect Trump’s choice of Rick Perry to run the Department of Energy is good news for people who believe–or want to believe–that the federal government’s Department of Energy was formed at the end of the 1970s because voters were tired of our abject dependence on foreign oil and its associated entanglements.
It is likely to be a huge disappointment for those who are more comfortable with the DOE as it exists today, with very little in the way of energy production or innovative energy research attributable to the $30 billion taxpayers spend on its annual budget.
Perry is the former three-term governor of Texas, which arguably has earned the title of “The Energy State.” Texas has been a world-renowned energy powerhouse since the Spindletop gusher first came in on January 10, 1901. Not only has it been a major source of oil and gas for the past century, but it also has lignite deposits, a large and growing wind industry, and two major nuclear stations.
Texas has been home to independents, wildcats, majors and minors. Its Barnett Shale formation is the place where George Mitchell nursed his vision of combining horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing to release vast quantities of oil and gas from “tight” rocks.
The dirty little secret known to many inside the energy industry and few outside of the industry is that less than 1/5th (18%) of the Department of Energy’s nearly $30 billion/year budget is spent on programs in the “Energy” category. The other 4/5ths is spent on programs in the categories of Nuclear Security (43%), Science (18%), and Environmental Management (19%) plus a hodgepodge of “Other (2%).”
As Texas Governor, Perry might have had the opportunity to learn something about other areas of DOE responsibility. Texas is the home of the Pantex Facility in Amarillo, an important part of the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons complex.
However, unlike his immediate predecessors, Perry isn’t a scientist. He has little experience with the national laboratories that trace their existence to the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Energy Commission that was created after the explosive end of World War II.
Perry’s Support For Oil And Gas
It almost goes without saying that a three term Texas governor supports the hydrocarbon industry and believes that fossil fuels will continue to be important tools for modern society for the foreseeable future.
During his tenure as governor, Texas natural gas production increased by 50% while its oil production soared by 260%, returning to levels not seen since the 1970s. During Perry’s last five years as governor, booming oil and gas exploration and extraction helped Texas to lead the nation in new job creation.
Other than the fact that Texas is where the gas is, it remains a popular place to poke holes partly due to a tax break that Perry signed into law in 2003. As a way to encourage frackers to invest in Texas drilling, the state created an exemption for “high cost” natural gas wells with a formula that can, in some cases, completely eliminate the 7.5% severance tax normally applied to Texas gas production.
Though the exemption is temporary and only lasts for the first 10 years of a well’s life, hydraulically fracked wells typically produce 80-90% of their lifetime gas volume within the first few years after they are completed. According to a study conducted at the request of the state legislature, the “high cost” gas well exemption allowed producers to accumulate an additional $10.6 billion in net revenue during the period from 2006-2014. Stated another way, if the exemption had not been in place and the same production had occurred, the state would have collected an additional $10.6 billion in severance taxes.
With the exemption in place, state collection of gas severance tax revenues has varied widely from year to year with changes in market prices and production levels, but over the past two decades the trend has been generally positive with collections increasing from about $700 million to $1.9 billion.
Supply siders and Libertarians could draw the conclusion that lower tax rates helped increase revenues, but it’s also legitimate to wonder what could have been done with the extra billion or so each year that would have gone into the state Treasury if political leaders like Rick Perry had not decided to incentivize production activities that probably would have happened anyway.
Though many environmentalists have expressed concerns that Perry’s selection provides more reasons to worry about a new boom in oil and gas drilling to the detriment of the environment, it is at least as plausible to believe that Perry’s experience taught him that too much drilling inevitably leads to a bust when prices fall as supply exceeds demand. Though part of the Texas economic bloom during Perry’s tenure came from innovations like fracking, a major portion was driven by globally high prices and the profit margins those prices allow.
Perry’s Involvement With Nuclear Energy
When the energy industry was talking about a Nuclear Renaissance, Texas was home to at least four serious development projects – Comanche Peak Units 3 & 4, South Texas Project Units 3 & 4, Victoria County Station Units 1 & 2 and Amarillo Power Units 1 & 2, with a total of eight new reactors.
Governor Perry, whose terms ran from Dec 2000-Jan 2015, was in office during the beginning of the Nuclear Renaissance optimism, for the build up of development efforts, and during the eventual petering out of immediate interest in building new nuclear plants. He was in office when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff ruled – in both December 2011 and May 2013 – that the investment structure created for the South Texas Project prevented issuance of a Combined License (COL) because they believed that it was dominated by foreign investors.
That decision was questionable and probably driven by antinuclear influencers. The license applicant in that case was–and remains–Nuclear Innovation North America (NINA). NRG, a US entity, owned 90% of NINA, but Toshiba, a Japanese company and a 10% owner of the project, was providing the financing for the licensing stage of the project. The monetary flows would have changed considerably during an actual construction project, but the NRC staff insisted that Toshiba was controlling the project since it was providing the money at the time.
Perry was still in office in April 2014 when the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board overruled the NRC staff’s initial decision. Presumably, he had a opportunity to learn about the costs imposed by the NRC staff objections, the significant legal and financial efforts invested to placate the staff, the way that groups opposed to nuclear energy pushed their interpretation of the restrictions on foreign ownership, domination and control to stymie development and the discouraging effect that the delay had on investor interest.
Perry was also in office during the issuance and renewals for numerous licenses required to operate the Andrews, TX low level waste repository and proposed site for a consolidated used fuel storage facility. He was there when the facility began receiving planned shipments after decades of delay. He had the opportunity to appoint all of the members of the TLLRWDC, the oversight commission for the facility. All indications are that the facility continues to operate smoothly and cost effectively, indicating that the commission members are doing their jobs.
On his watch, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved a major expansion of the site’s capacity and allowed it to expand its customer base from two states (Texas and Vermont) to 36 states plus the Department of Energy.
While some have pointed to Perry’s selection as an indicator that the Trump Administration might attempt to reinvigorate the Yucca Mountain project, it seems more likely that Perry would favor a process that found hosts that are willing and eager to gain the benefits of solid, long-term infrastructure investments and job creation that come from agreeing to watch over well behaved and potentially valuable used fuel. Though there might be some who believe that Yucca would be the right way to go, the remaining $300 billion that would be required to build and operate the facility and infrastructure described in the current DOE license application should be a substantial deterrent.
Perry’s Texas Has Benefitted From Federal Wind Tax Credits
During Governor Perry’s tenure as governor, Texas’s wind energy production soared from almost nothing when he entered office to more than 35 million MW-hrs in 2014, his last full year in office. If Texas was a country, its wind energy production would rank 5th in the world.
Perry also worked hard to make sure that the wind power generated in the vast, lightly populated but windy areas of West Texas, could make it to power-hungry cities by supporting a $7 billion transmission corridor project called the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone. The network of more than 3,600 miles of new wires has helped Texas nearly eliminate the periods when congestion and high winds drove electricity prices in some areas to well below zero.
The project has received accolades from the people that like the jobs and revenues that the federally subsidized wind industry brings to the state.
“When we look back on the investment in CREZ, it will be one of the most visionary investments the state has ever made.”
Jeff Clark, executive director of the Austin-based Wind Coalition.
Perry’s Support For Coal Includes Carbon Capture And Utilization
Governor Perry has been sharply criticized by many environmentalists for his support for new coal fired power plants during the early part of his tenure as governor, but that support was given during a period when natural gas prices were sharply rising. Those rising gas prices were causing electricity prices in Texas to rise almost as fast. Gas producers might have been happy, but the negative effects of high cost electricity on the rest of the Texas economy were readily apparent to the Governor.
Perry has continued to support investments in developing the technology needed to economically capture CO2 from power plant smokestacks. He appears most interested in projects where the captured CO2 is used for such purposes as stimulating additional oil and gas production and is not just sequestered.
Conclusion: Perry Will Make Both Friends And Enemies As He Works To Develop Energy Strengths
Not surprisingly, there are detractors who mistakenly focus on a widely known, but unrepresentative televised episode when Governor Perry had a “senior moment.” He was participating in a presidential debate in November 2011 and attempting to list the three agencies of the federal government that he thought could be eliminated based on his experiences with them as Governor. He couldn’t recall that the Department of Energy was on his normal stump speech list.
The video clip of that embarrassing episode provides a better understanding of the episode than the snide summaries and references found elsewhere. Few people above the age of 40 have never had the experience of being in the middle of a talk or a conversation and drawing a complete blank on a word or phrase they know very well. They might have even temporarily blanked out on the name of good friends known for years. That behavior doesn’t indicate that someone is dimwitted, or a dufus, or experiencing the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not an uncommon occurrence among busy people of a certain age, especially if they are sleep-deprived, stressed, nervous or distracted.
Another canard that’s being tossed around is that it isn’t appropriate to choose a person who once advocated for elimination of the Department of Energy as its appointed leader. For close observers of the way that the agency has performed its supposed focus of improving America’s energy supply, it’s not such a bad choice. Maybe an experienced politician who clearly recognizes the importance and value of energy production more than the basic science of particle physics can energize the agency that is supposed to help empower the country.
As a supporter of nuclear energy, natural gas, wind and carbon capture and utilization, Perry might help reduce CO2 emissions more effectively than someone whose major qualification is that they have faith in the summary conclusions of 97% of a sample of peer reviewed papers on climate science. Just because someone asks questions about actions, extent, urgency and special interests does not mean they deny that human CO2 production is changing the Earth’s climate in some way.
Note: A version of the above was first published on Forbes.com with the headline Special Interests Worried Rick Perry’s DOE Might Focus On Creating Sustainable U.S. Energy Policy. It is reprinted here with permission.
Rod, you have an uncanny propensity for imagining the world as you’d like it to be, rather than as it truly is. We shall see how these science discarding zealots and oil soaked snakes perform. Unlike you, I believe they slithered in under the back door, rather than walking upright through the entryway.
After I imagine the world as I want it to be, I do what I can to mold it to that vision. It might be idealistic, but I find it a more positive activity than simply sitting in my office chair lobbing grenades at the TV or computer.
Well….ya gotta have your hands on the clay to do your molding. My lump of clay is considerably smaller than what you imagine yours to be. Today, the yawl goes back in the water, after a much needed bottom paint freshening. Its cold here. When we motor back to its berth from the boatyard, I believe I’ll put on a sweater. Wishing for a warmer day just doesn’t have the same effect as the sweater does.
With due respect to a proud and skilled craftsman who probably produces beautiful finished pieces of wood, I have a different background and skill set than you do. It can be portrayed as vanity or delusions of grandeur, but I believe I’ve been trained to have an influence on world events.
In my formative years, I was taught that leaders take charge – especially in stressful, dangerous, or confused situations – when they are the senior or most capable person in the group.
With regard to energy, I’ve had rare experiences that need to be shared. I’ve also been told that I write reasonably well. Technology and some hard work over the years have given me access to an outlet where I can widely share information rapidly to people who can use it.
Perhaps it’s just my imagination, or perhaps I really am crazy, but I intend to keep trying.
Yep. And I respect you for that, Rod. But sometimes I just kinda think your tenacious nature would be better served by a healthy dose of realism. BTW, thanks for the message. I’m glad that both of us see some of the same kinds of dogmas as being indefensible, and unacceptable.
Realistic or not – I think you have assembled a wealth of information on the subject of nuclear energy. This information could possibly be put into a mighty fine book to read.
In fact – It could be a guide for Mr. Perry or some future person who will run the DOE. That is – if it still exists after Mr. Perry is done with it.
poa: On the other hand, while you are probably right – I certainly don’t have much optimism about Perry – seems to me he’s an oil and gas man through and through – at the same time, it does no good for Nuclear advocates to come out of the gate hurling attacks at him before he even takes office – that might have rather the opposite effect desired, and might push him to be anti-nuclear.
TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
” seems to me he’s an oil and gas man through and through”
Bizarre. Did you read the detailed history in the article? Under Perry’s watch: Texas would became the what would be the fifth largest country in the world for wind generation. Texas would have had more nuclear if not for the NRC.
I am very hopeful. Looking back it was amazing how puritanically anti business and anti commerce the American left had become. Almost cult like in redefining reality to suit their misguided notions of social justice.
Its strange too in that nothing probably improves a persons life more than having stable, good paying employment and access to affordable modern services and conveniences.
We are, perhaps, wondering a bit far afield in this conversation, but I do wonder what you mean when you say the left had become puritanically anti-business? Sure, there are a few communist/socialist/anti-capitalist types on the left, but the D party under Obama doesn’t strike me as having been terribly anti-business. They did an awful lot to promote and grow business, or at least, mostly stay out of the way. The evidence is that GDP has been growing, unemployment steadily falling.
But, please, do elaborate how the left has harmed business. I am open to an explanation – a sort of “Festivus airing of grievances” so to speak.
Lol, thats a wonderful if not expected invitation Jeff. To be honest I took the “anti Business” thing as the closest available abstractive layer that that I thought would work with this crowd. Probably that was a mistake and there is a lot more to it. Rob threw out “NeoLiberalism” in his twitter feed, which I am grateful for, but I don’t feel wholly encompases or explains what has occurred.
I know you would not have asked what you did if you were not also intrigued with the very basics here. This is really all new ground and I am also disappointed with the explanations thus far. Please feel free to elaborate your beliefs.
But anyway let me compose a response worthy of your inquiry. Ill post it here tomorrow.
Well Jeff Im liking the “Neoliberal” classification scheme more. I still have issues with it when it comes down to general economic and social trends past 2000.
I think “puritanically anti business and anti commerce” was pretty accurate when describing the populist left. Things like “green” industries and popular technologies seem to be given a pass.
“Under Obama” is perhaps a different story if there was ever any serious objective criticism of this administration in our media. Looking back I have my doubts.
Chuckling. Stuck your foot in it, that time, didncha, John.
What would that extra $10.6 bil of lost gas revenue have done? It might have paid down the astounding county and municipal debt that Texans have incurred, in the name of limited statehouse budgeting; Or dealt with the continuing drought crisis, that has destroyed the local citrus industry and is moving on to animal husbandry, and perhaps inclining the locals to do without the cheap labor south of the border that is now essentially a campaign issue as far north as Michigan Way; It might have dealt with flood control and storm protection which are the byproducts of changing climatology.
Then again, it takes no money to deal with the state’s appalling licensure laws. It takes common sense to redirect money to where GOOD wind turbine sites are to be found: NREL maps regularly show that Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Montana are much better than Texas. Or perhaps we will realize that without its natural gas abatements, Texas fares less well than tight gas elsewhere on the Plains, or simply the flared gas of the Bakken.
Nothing against Rick, but perhaps federal exposure makes known local pecadillos (and armadillos).
“NREL maps regularly show that Nebraska, the Dakotas, and Montana are much better than Texas.”
They have better wind, but there’s a lot more considerations than that, as to what makes a ‘better site’. Texas windmills are a lot closer to Texas electricity customers. . .
The problem with wind in the upper west, is it is a bit of a long way from *anywhere* with large populations and lots of industry. Those states could potentially sell to a number of states – WA, OR, CA, UT, NV, CO.
But, TX is very conveniently located to sell electricity to TX.
There currently is no available transmission to wheel power from Montana wind to the Pacific Northwest. The cost of building extra transmission lines plus the cost of the wind farms is more than Mid-Columbia Hub prices can bear.
Yeah…I wonder how GM employees react to being told that the left is “anti-business”.
RE: $7 billion transmission project for Texas wind.
Let’s see, 35 million MW-hrs/year equates to about four ~1 GW nuclear power plants. The one-time $7 billion transmission line cost is comparable to power plant capital cost. Thus, the transmission cost would equate to almost $2,000/kW of capacity. That is, if it were done for four remote nuclear plants, it would equate to a subsidy of ~30% of capital cost, which in turn equates to ~2-3 cents/kW-hr.
Although wind would actually involve far more capacity, with a far lower capacity factor, the per kW-hr subsidy should be similar, since we’re talking about the same transmission project (one time) cost vs. the same annual generation. Rod’s reference article refers to 18.5 GW of wind capacity. That much capacity producing 35 million MW-hrs per year corresponds to a capacity factor of ~22%. Comparing $7 billion to 18.5 GW of capacity works out to ~$380/kW. For wind to have an overall per kW-hr cost that is a bit lower than nuclear, its overnight capital cost would have to be ~$1,500/kW or less. Thus, it would equate to a reduction of ~25% or more in capital cost, which is worth ~2 cents/kW-hr.
Are costs like these included in the low renewables per kW-hr costs routinely quoted by advocates (you know, equal to or lower than fossil plants, even w/o subsidy, many advocates say)? I’m pretty sure they’re not. To me, it is one more example of the direct and indirect subsidies, that lie throughout the “woodwork”, that renewables get. Backup fossil generation is another. Their real, overall costs are far higher.
Meanwhile, for nuclear, the opposite is true. There is a tremendous zeal to make sure that the industry fully covers all costs, and gets no indirect subsidies at all (the only possible exception being Price Anderson, which is worth ~0.1 cents/kW-hr). Heaven forbid that happening, given public attitudes on nuclear…
If wind power can get its transmission costs covered by the government, then nuclear plants ought to have the govt. provide their security, or get paid to provide it. Aren’t police (i.e., security) supposed to be one of the things that nuclear plants are paying for, with their (exceedingly generous) general tax payments? We all know the stories of how nuclear plants provided the majority of the tax base for the local towns. Well, those towns’ police forces should be responsible for protecting the plants. Just like for any other business or facility. Or the Feds….
There is a substantial ERCOT fee on my electric bill of IIRC 1.3¢/KWHr, but that’s on every KWHr I buy. Now some of that is administrative costs, but the bulk is for those unneeded power lines, so Perry’s buddies could cash in on wind subsidies.
Austin has this “Green Power” subscription in which they claim the subscribers get 100% of their electricity from wind, a lie as I’m pretty sure their lights still come on when the wind isn’t blowing, and they claim the subscribers pay the cost; their rates are a little higher. But the rest of us are paying more than a cent per KWHr on all of our electricity to subsidize their transmission lines.
It also irritates me that Austin prattles on and on about wind, but doesn’t tout the 27% of our electricity that is CO2 free because it comes from STNP. When I ask folks what is our largest source of CO2 free electricity they’re always surprised that it’s STNP.
Not in reply to Jim, but on the Governor Goodhair topic, as I mentioned in an earlier article’s comments section, Perry came to public service with no meaningful wealth, and as he left office his fortune was in the tens of millions. We have lots of oil and gas, but the job of governor doesn’t pay that well. There are articles about how he set up the toll road system so that millions would be made by politicians owning the land in question. And the system/legislation basically ruined Texas’s ability to build non toll roadways.
Perry is a lethal parasite. A little profiteering is one thing, but when you ruin the function of the state in the process, that’s rotten.
I hope Rod’s optimism is accurate, but based on past performance I expect Perry to do whatever profits Perry and with no regard for what it does to the functions of the nation.
You agree here on exactly the polar opposite policy stance but the same nuanced extremely political political position. I would call it ironic were I not expecting it.
You misunderstand, these people in DC are ticks, no matter which side of the aisle they stand on. But this batch that the lying postering Trump is compiling are indesputably the very swamp dwellers he promised to tar and feather. I just don’t get it. You gotta be a complete idiot to fail to recognize what he promised as opposed to what he is actually doing.
I’m really confused. There is a lot of hue and cry in the media regarding the lack of government experience for most of the members of Trump’s cabinet – other than the retired Generals who have military government experience.
There is almost as much criticism about the “fact” that Trump promised to “drain the swamp” yet supposedly isn’t doing so.
Seems to me that few of Trump’s cabinet picks are people who have built careers through revolving doors in DC. Many have built successful careers well outside of DC. They are not the “swamp dwellers” Trump was referring to.
Rod…I don’t know why you’re confused. Except maybe you and I have different ideas about what it means, and what Trump implied, about draining the swamp. He mentioned lobbyists repeatedly when citing what he opined was the matter with “the swamp”. Yet, he has surrounded himself with either lobbyists, or those whose careers and business interests have been most reliant on special interest lobbyists. What reason do lobbyists serve now that the people who were served by the lobbyists are now in positions of power, so they can do the bidding of industry from their seats of power. So yeah, he can throw the lobbyists out. They ain’t needed anymore. His cabinet can sell us out without assistance or lobby coercion.
Before, it was the politicians selling themselves to the highest bidders. But, now, the highest bidders ARE the politicians. How does that amount to “draining the swamp”.
The swamp, by my way of thinking, refers to those people whose business or income depended almost exclusively on government largess and protective regulations.
Just being in business doesn’t mean someone is dependent on lobbying for favors.
Thats a chuckle, Rod. Can you think of an industry that has a more powerful lobby force than the fossil fuel industry? Gosh, and just what industry is represented by Trump’s environmental and energy cabinet positions?
Please, you’re an intelligent man. THINK.What you want to be happening is overpowering your ability to see what is actually happening.
Sure, the fossil fuel industry is well represented in Washington. Though there are some exceptions, the vast majority of their requests to their representatives appear from my point of view to be along the “stop hurting us” lines and not the “please force people to buy our product” lines.
Now, if you are talking about the enormous sums of money spent by the Saudis, the Kuwaitis and the Qataris (among other OPEC members) to ensure that their interests are protected, that is a vastly different story.
“Though there are some exceptions, the vast majority of their requests to their representatives appear from my point of view to be along the “stop hurting us” lines and not the “please force people to buy our product” lines.”
That an odd thing for you to say, Rod, considering your oft stated belief the the fossil fuel industry has been engaged, for many many decades, in a conspiracy to do what you are now claiming that they aren’t doing. If they aren’t “forcing us to buy their product” through a highly successful conspiracy waged against NE, then….uh, what is it you’ve been saying……????
And, Exxon’s purposeful policy of burying THEIR OWN conclusions about man induced climate change certainly would seem to be a rather forceful tactic of marketing their product over alternatives such as NE or renewables. You are actually comfortable with a man that masterminded such tactics being a cabinet member. How filthy and corrupt of a tomorrow are you willing to will your children in order to advance your energy darling?
You haven’t been reading carefully enough. I do not condemn the entire fossil fuel industry for lobbying against nuclear energy. I try to make the case that there are specific players that have fossil fuel related “interests” who support nuclear energy opposition. Within the very large fossil fuel business, I’d venture a guess that significantly less than 1% of the people understand the importance of controlling supply. Most of them are much more interested in finding and delivering the product that customers keep telling them they want to buy.
I like the capabilities that fossil fuels have given to society and admire most of the hard working people who have chosen careers in the useful enterprise of finding, refining and delivering them to us.
Have these individuals demonstrated a propensity for wasteful spending or corruption?
I never considered the “swamp” to be about anyone generally successful.
Well – One thing is for sure. When the swamp is drained, the alligators will have a clear view.
“Have these individuals demonstrated a propensity for wasteful spending or corruption?”
Well…that depends on what you consider to be “corrupt”. Is publicly denying climate science “corrupt” when that denial is purposely focused at benefitting the fossil fuel industry, rather than at actual supporting science? Are Rick Perry’s actions, as described by Jeff, (above), “corrupt”? Can we consider Trump’s refusal to pay craftsmen, contractors, and suppliers for their products a “corrupt” form of doing business? Is it “corruption” to build an energy and environmental governmental structure that is manned by people beholden to, and profiting from, the fossil fuel industry? Frankly, only a fool would answer “no” to these questions.
“Is it “corruption” to build an energy and environmental governmental structure that is manned by people beholden to, and profiting from, the fossil fuel industry? Frankly, only a fool would answer “no” to these questions.”
You’ve got to understand. Some of the people in charge don’t care about corruption. If they had been raised with typical morals, the morals have long been wiped out. They are the moneyed interests, serve themselves and to Hades with the rest of us. And,……I don’t think there is anyone reading these posts that doesn’t realize that. It is just hard to accept.
This was my biggest question in reading the breakdown: It appears to me that Perry was just really good at getting the Texas folks rallied around grabbing up the subsidy for wind generation early in the game. Classic move to recognize that investors wouldn’t have to foot the bill entirely. Who wouldn’t take that deal? Similar to how Exelon snapped up FitzPatrick for next to nothing, knowing that NY wanted that plant online and was willing to drop $250 million/year to keep it that way. Guaranteed money, allowing Exelon to dump $150 million right into the plant and start hiring across the board. They made money instantly and got the (high performing) asset on the cheap. These are no-brainers. We all knew the incoming administration would be stacked for business but the difficult part (until you get the real story from people directly affected by their policies) is discerning how cards will play out, and which businesses will truly benefit.
It’s about $5 million per year, give or take, for the average Security force at an operating nuclear plant. The price goes down a little bit, based on those in SAFSTOR or stand alone ISFSIs, but that money is still required to be budgeted as part of the storage process. It is paid for by the ratepayers. Honestly don’t ever see the military taking over that role for site-specific protection; only whenever it’s time to come and pick the fuel up for transport to wherever. There are MOUs with the Feds and LLEA for response, but there’s no way anyone else is going to take over the plant site security functions. It’s pretty much baked in through regulations.
The bizzarre set of priorities exhibited by our government, in terms of “security”, exposes actual our infrastructural security as a sham. Excessive security measures are not an effort to actually protect infrastructure. Instead, it is a tactic of posturing, to convince the public to support policy. I could travel ten minutes from my home, and with very little expenditure of time, effort, or material, cripple rail traffic in the western United States, with nary a worry about getting through a security barrier of any kind. The idea that an NPP requires any more security than a chemical plant, a refinery, an offshore drilling rig, or an important section of rail, is ludicrous. Security, such as that required at NPPs serves two purposes. First, it weds the public’s carefully nurtured fear of terrorism with the equally nurtured fear of radiation, greasing the skids for this terrible scam that was sold to us as “the global war on terrorism”. The greater level of fear they can instill in us, the greater level of imperialistic outreach we can impose on the Middle East. And of course, the horrendously expensive matter of security at NPPs is designed to keep NE marginalized, to the great benefit of the fossil fuel industry, and our politician’s fealty, and dependence on that industry. To think that Perry is going to ignore the energy void that NG gets to fill every time a NPP closes, is ludicrous. It is highly profitable for the fossil fuel industry everytime an NPP closes. And building new NPPs is counter productive to the bank accounts of almost virtually EVERY SINGLE MEMBER of Trump’s cabinet picks concerning the energy sector and the environment.
Perry is a problem for NE. Not a solution. Mark my words.
Heres another one, Ed. Any idea why it was held up?
Anymore EIA does include transmission investment in over system LCOE, and onshore wind still comes out ahead of nuclear by this marginal metric: see http://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/appendix_tbls.pdf
If, like me, you are uncomfortable with the term “backup” as applied to fossil generation required to make unreliable wind and sun useful and wish for a better term,Tim Maloney has suggested we just call required fossil co-generation “required fossil co-generation”, and leave it at that.
The linked EIS table estimates transmission investment at 3.1 $/MWh for onshore wind, 3.4 $/MWh for advanced combustion turbine, $1.2/MWh for combined cycle, and $1.1/MWh for new nuclear, figures which are essentially the same when scaled by respective capacity factors of 35%, 30%, and 90%.
Levelized system costs are estimated as 75.1 $/MWh for onshore-wind, $118.6 for Advanced Combustion Turbine, and 88.9 for advanced nuclear. To a zeroeth-order approximation:
0.35*75.1 + 0.65*118.6 = $103.4/MWh for “reliable” onshore wind, and
0.90*88.9 + 0.10*118.6 = $91.9/MWh for nuclear.
Or $87.9 for nuclear if one uses Advanced CCGT instead of ACT during scheduled refuel&maintenance. And here is where the zeroeth-order “reliable” wind system cost falls short, as I don’t know just how much wind, on a large grid, can be co-generated with lower-cost CCGT in place of ACT. It certainly must be some, and the same Advanced CCGT plant can supply both. But if one assumes 50%, then 0.35*75.1 + 0.65 * (118.6+79.3)/2 = $90.6 MWh for reliable wind, under these very simplified assumptions.
Socialized carbon costs will run us extra.
I never trust estimates of something as uncertain as future LCOE that have 3 or 4 significant figures. I’d guess they are, at best, approximations accurate to an order of magnitude.
Only to an order of magnitude? If your cost of e.g. battery storage has an error bar going from $100/kWh down to $10/kWh, pretty much every evaluation of energy economics becomes equivocal.
The cost of nuclear power plants, even during stagflation, appears to be much more precisely predictable than that based on interest rates and escalating regulatory demands.
“Anymore EIA does include transmission investment in over system LCOE, and onshore wind still comes out ahead of nuclear by this marginal metric.”
Ed, I think the “transmission investment” column in the EIA table you cited denotes what we could call “grid hook-up” costs, i.e., the cost of short-distance lines to connect new power plants to the existing grid. I don’t think it includes the systemic cost of expanding the long-distance transmission grid to accommodate renewables, which would be much higher than the EIA numbers.
For example, estimates of the cost of transmission lines to carry Wyoming wind to the California grid (about 700 miles) indicate transmission will add about $29 per MWh to the LCOE of the wind power. Estimates of the LCOE transmission cost of the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line to carry Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle wind to the Mississippi (also about 700 miles) run about the same, $30 per MWh. That’s almost 10 times the $3.1 per MWh “transmission investment” cost that EIA reckons for onshore wind.
Of course, nuclear’s LCOE should then also be apportioned some of the cost of the long-distance transmission grid, but that will likely be much less per MWh for nuclear than it is for wind and solar plants.
Or, perhaps Rod….
Could Perry be a boost for nuclear weapons testing and development? Couple that with Trump’s promise to dismember the Iran deal…
So once again, the public will subjected to the nasty implication that the word “nuclear” musy be associated with mushroom clouds and radiological calamity. “Iran wants NE, therefore it seeks the bomb”, will be the megaphoned premise Trump will feed our media, who will be willing participants in this policy of fear mongering. Add North Korea to the media mix, and the public is about to get another heavy dose of NE leads to the bomb, the bomb leads to mushroom clouds, mushroom clouds lead to radiation exposure, and radiation exposure leads to death and mayhem.
Trump and Perry may well have our kids cowering under their desks again, to the sound of their teacher screaming “DROP!” at the top of her lungs. Whats that gonna do for your mission of alleviating the public’s fear of the ultimate invisible boogie man, monster, and grim reaper (radiation)?
Heres one, Ed. Ok…so, maybe, it was held ip by the link.
So….search google about “perry nuclear energy” ….40 minutes.
Read 6 bookmarked articles found in the search….35 minutes.
Having found an article I wish to comment on, copying the link, then composing a comment to post here….20 minutes.
Total time expended about an hour and a half. WASTED TIME. The comment was rejected by Rod’s prehistoric moderating bot. It happens far too often, wasting the time of the person wishing to comment. One wonders how many first time commenters don’t bother to try again, and simply don’t return, perhaps suspecting censorship. I assume its fixable. And should get fixed. I wonder how Rod would react if the time he spends in composing a comment ended up being an irritating exercise in futility.
Fascinating, poa. What does an AI pink slip look like? I haven’t seen one myself, but have seen comments sit for a couple or four days for review. Usually those containing hot-links to other than the usual suspects.
I don’t know what to tell you, Ed. I never know whether a comment will actually post or not. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it, even posts without links are routinely held, and whether or not they’ll show up eventually is a gamble.
Hmm. What about length? Ad-hominem remarks? Just jesting, as I haven’t seen the comments in question — obviously.
Well, Ed, if the comments appear, I’ll point them out to you, and you can draw your own conclusions.
Is the comment you are complaining about the one with a link to The NY Times article about Perry and weapons testing?
Meanwhile, scientists scramble to protect many decades of documented research, theory, analysis, evidence, and conclusions regarding global warming and climate change. Did you ever think you’d see the overwhelming majority of the scientific community fearing the complete rejection, (by an incoming presidential administration), of years upon years of research?
Whats next, book burnings? The purging of media accounts of Trump’s campaign tactics, statements, and actions? The prosecution of scientists and researchers who reach conclusions that Trump and his band of oil swilling syncopants find uncomfortable? Dark times ahead. The only good par of this is that apparently there are 3 million less ignorant voters than there are intelligent ones.
Thanks for the truth-out link poa. Laurie Allen dwelt on an impart Ed of Term Archive Aspect I hadn’t considered: the computer codes. Not just the source software itself, which is “just text”, but how to set up, install, configure, and use them.
And anything, any part, no matter how small, that has copyright or patent restriction, becomes legally problematic. Not necessarily impossible, but the system administrators would have be able to show permission to copy for this purpose, which could take more time they might not have.
But the installation, configuration, and running these things. Anymore the scientists involved have tried hard to keep them opensource, but even if IP rights are not an issue, these programs are huge, and outputs from one are used for another and vis-versa. And they run on government supercomputers (NOAA, NASA, DOE) to which Joe Average Academic might not enjoy perpetual access.
So making certain they can be installed and run — albeit slowly — on more modest generic hardware, might take even more time.
Meanwhile, the Trump Transition Team has walked back their wish list request. Spokesman Sean Spicer is reported as saying:
“The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled.”
One can imagine.
POA: “The only good par of this is that apparently there are 3 million less ignorant voters than there are intelligent ones.”
I don’t know about that. I’d argue that voting for Hillary was no sign of intelligence either. And she would certainly not have implemented any sensible energy policy. I threw up my hands and voted for Jill Stein. Her energy policy would have been completey senseless, but at least I agreed with her on some social policy. I never thought I’d vote for a Green Party candidate, but given the alternatives…
I’m appalled that so many favor a man who relishes yelling “your fired”. It may be a performance, but it’s just atrocious behavior about on par with the worst on Jerry Springer and that ilk.
And on a completely different note, it’s “fewer”, not “less”. If you start with fewer potatoes you end up with less mashed potato.
And because I included a grammar criticism, I guaranteed I’d write your where I should have put you’re, although being in quotes perhaps I can argue that Trump is the one using the wrong one.
“I don’t know about that. I’d argue that voting for Hillary was no sign of intelligence either”
The intelligence of such an act was exhibited by the rejection of Trump, rather than by an endorsement of Hillary. I have never been a supporter of Clinton. But at least with Clinton we had a chance of predictable, albeit corrupt, “leadership”. (Yes, I know, it does pain me to use the term.)
With Trump, who is obviously unbalanced, petty, spiteful, and glaringly dishonest, there is no telling what may happen. We just gambled our children’s futures on the back of a consumate liar, con man, and thief, who exhibits a lack of emotional security that is terrifying, considering the seat he is about to fill.
“With Trump, who is obviously unbalanced, petty, spiteful, and glaringly dishonest, there is no telling what may happen. We just gambled our children’s futures on the back of a consumate liar, con man, and thief, who exhibits a lack of emotional security that is terrifying, considering the seat he is about to fill.”
Meh — we’re just about to finish about 8 years of that, so how bad can another 4 or 8 be?
No need to answer as we are about to find out . . .
Jill Stein, a candidate who got fewer electoral votes than Ron Paul… who wasn’t even running this year.
2016 has been a banner year for laugh-out-loud-funny things like that.
Yeah, well, I wanted to vote, however meaningless that’s become, and I couldn’t bring myself to support either of the two people who might win. I could have voted for the Libertarian, but while I once labeled myself a Libertarian, I now have serious problems with the philosophy based on control systems theory. I still like the starting point, that not interfering with people has high value. In practice though, I find, scratch a libertarian, find a corporate apologist.
If I was a conspiracy theory kind of person, I’d advance the idea that this election was orchestrated to teach the public, “Stick with the institutional candidates. If you try to escape the trap you’ll only get a nutjob worse than the business as usual candidate.” A false premise, but one this elections seems strangely composed to teach.
” I find, scratch a libertarian, find a corporate apologist.”
“With some notable exceptions, businessmen favor free enterprise in general but are opposed to it when it comes to themselves.”
“If we have system in which government is in a position to give large favor – it’s human nature to try to get this favor – whether those people are large enterprises, or whether they’re small businesses like farmers, or whether they’re representatives of any other special group. The only way to prevent that is to force them to engage in competition one with the other.”
Liar….”millions of illegals voted”
Con man…..”I’ll release my taxes…”
Thief….refusal to pay many contractors and suppliers for their services.
Emotionally insecure…Tweeting incessantly at critics, petty name calling, mysogynistic actions and statements concerning women.
Ok…Rick. Its your turn. Lets see you apply the same to Obama.
K, I’ll start with the lowest hanging fruit: the lies.
I see that you live in a sort of a bubble, so here is what I did (you can do the same).
I did a web search for “List of Obama lies” — got an investment blog post and here are the top 5 lies they had:
With so many lies and half-truths told by this president, it is sometimes hard to keep them all straight. Thankfully, somebody was kind enough to compile a list of some of the biggest whoppers Obama has told over the past seven years:
1) “My position hasn’t changed” on using executive authority to address immigration issues.
We know this is untrue because Obama specifically said more than 20 times that he didn’t have the authority to change immigration laws or offer amnesty to illegal immigrants — before going ahead and changing immigration laws and offering amnesty to illegal immigrants.
2) His comment about extremists being a JV team “wasn’t specifically referring to” the Islamic State group.
Obama embarrassingly brushed off early conquests of parts of Syria and Iraq by dismissing the Islamic State group as a junior varsity team, not yet ready to play with the big boys.
He later tried to claim he wasn’t referring only to that organization, but to all extremist groups. However, the interview in which the quote was given specifically referenced the Islamic State group’s conquest of Fallujah, Iraq, which had occurred just days before.
3) “Fast and Furious” began under the Bush administration.
Obama tried to claim that Operation Fast and Furious, a program carried out by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that allowed guns to be sold to straw purchasers so they could be “walked” across the border to the Mexican cartels, was begun under the Bush administration.
However, Fast and Furious began in 2009, after Obama took office. A similar program called Operation Wide Receiver was run under Bush’s watch, but it didn’t allow the guns to cross the border, nor did any Border Patrol agents die because of it, as was the case with Fast and Furious.
4) “I didn’t raise taxes once.”
Of course we know this is a flat-out lie as his namesake healthcare reform law,Obamacare, is jam-packed with all sorts of taxes, some new and some old, some large and some small. Obama may have been referring to income taxes, which he wasn’t able to raise thanks to Republicans, but that isn’t what he said — and does anyone believe he wouldn’t have if he’d been able to?
5) “We’ve excluded lobbyists from policy-making jobs.”
This is patently false, as numerous former lobbyists have found gainful employment within the Obama administration, even in policy-making jobs.
Obama’s “con man” credentials are largely co-extensive with his liar credentials.
“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” might be the best known — have YOU ever heard of that?
How about the campaign promise to close Gitmo?
Oh, YEAH — there was a time set for that, too, as I recall.
“In the first year” or something like that.
Yep. And, I understand renditions have continued, drone strikes are at unprecedented levels, and Obama has committed an extrajudicial execution of an American citizen.
All this adds credence to my contention that the left versus right BS is a charade. Our differences, as citizens, are nurtured, fabricated, incited, and inflamed, purposely, to keep us divided and bickering while DC pursues a global agenda designed to further enrich the political elite and the top 1%.
You often contend “that the left versus right BS is a charade” — but I contend that THAT is “BS”: you consistently show a left bias (your anti-Israel has and “alt Right” tone to it, though).
Example: how you fawn over Obama while he his cut from the same cloth as Trump (whom you go out of your way to vilify).
Maybe (just MAYBE) 2017 could be a year where comments to this site are more constrained to matters pertaining to nuclear energy — just a thought. Perhaps?
Care to show me an example of my “fawning over Obama”???
Easy. The most recent example was on December 30. The comment listed lies, etc. of Trump and ended with “Ok…Rick. Its your turn. Lets see you apply the same to Obama.”
Such a “challenge” shows that you actually believed (and probably still believe) that Obama does not lie, or “con”, like Trump. You live in an information bubble. I would not be surprised if this website is the only source of information that you have that challenges your Left-bias.
Despite the benefit that it might provide you in that regard, I sure hope that this website is LESS political in 2017.
“The comment listed lies, etc. of Trump and ended with “Ok…Rick. Its your turn. Lets see you apply the same to Obama.”
Such a “challenge” shows that you actually believed (and probably still believe) that Obama does not lie, or “con”, like Trump.”
Thats BS, Rick. And you know it is. You’ve created a straw argument. Countless times on this blogsite I have commented that I find both sides of the aisle detestable. Do I personally lean left? Of course I do. But does that mean I think the so called “left” in DC represents my interests? Not by a long shot. I asked you to illucidate Obama’s similiarity to Trump because I knew you wpuld. Do you honestly think, knowing your adversarial relationship with me, that I was stupid enough to think you would not raise some reasonable points about Obama being just as snakelike in his manner of governance than the rest of these serpents are? Now, I will admit, if I had to pick a preference between Obama or Trump, Obama would win, hands down. But “fawning” over him? You’re full of …., and you know you are. Thats what makes a good attorney, eh?
Obama’s Thief credentials are thievery under color of law (as he never had the opportunity to engage in Trump-style private sector thievery).
My “favorite” example relates to the nefarious Iran deal: Americans with valid judgments against Iran will be stiffed from collecting because Obama released the Iranian money that America was holding WITHOUT setting aside money for Iran’s victims.
Just as with Trumps thievery, those who were due payment have been denied.
Obama’s emotional insecurity IS trumped by Trump’s (K — you got me there!)
“Obama’s “con man” credentials are largely co-extensive with his liar credentials.
“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” might be the best known — have YOU ever heard of that?”
Well, in the liar category, the most glaring one from Obama, although I am unable to recall the exact quotes, was the lies about intending to hold the Bush Administration accountable for their illgal acts, such as torture. Cheney, and others should really be behind bars because of torturing prisoners at Gitmo and other places. It is indisputable that they broke laws. I note Trump is following suit, exposing his lack of respect for the rule of law by backing down in his promises tk hold Clinton accountable. It is only we, outside of government, that are held to the letter of the law. Both sides of the aisle, in DC, seem to be exempt.
“Obama’s emotional insecurity IS trumped by Trump’s (K — you got me there!)”
Do you remember a time, a prior presidential race, were it could be reasonably contended that a candidate was emotionally disturbed? I certainly don’t, unless it was the infamous “scream” that sunk Howard Dean.
Actually, the Obama administration DID go after at least one government lawyer who had written a brief that supported enhanced interrogation methods.
Thanks for reminding me of that (I’ll mention it when someone expresses worry about Trump going after Clinton and the “Banana Republic” aspect of such a move).
I am a die hard libertarian and have worked in the oil patch for 25 years. Nevertheless I cannot support tax breaks for a particular part of the oil industry. If you’re going to reduce taxes to one industry while stealing everyone elses profits you will merely encourage misallocation of resources, something that has happened big time in the shale patch.
This is particularly so with US oil, oil producers are taxed more or less the same as other businesses and any tax breaks must constitute a subsidy.
In most other oil provinces oil is a cash cow for the state and is burdened by additional tax; for example in a good year the British Government took 15billion dollars would take from North Sea oil. Any reduction in this tax does not in my view constitute a subsidy. The US however has nothing like this and if we must have taxes then oil should be taxed like any other business.
I seriously doubt that any of those nuclear power plant proposals in Texas gain any traction.
@David B. Benson
Assuming you are referring directly to the original post, the nuclear projects mentioned gained sufficient traction for the participants to spend hundreds of millions of dollars (with a total between all of them of perhaps a billion or more) before they fizzled away due to a combination of reasons that included unpredictable licensing cost & schedule, increasing belief that natural gas prices will remain low for the foreseeable future, and some planning/management miscues.
At least one of the projects has been issued a COL and could begin construction within a few months of making a final investment decision.
To the extent I understand it, there won’t be adequate financing.
Rod, you did a fair amount of work to assemble your optimistic scenario for Perry at DOE, but optimism is good. I didn’t vote for Trump, but now that he’s the next president it’s time to take advantage of the situation, try to mold the future, and do constructive messaging, as you are doing. Those who simply throw grenades at the TV will accomplish little.
“……..but now that he’s the next president it’s time to take advantage of the situation…..”
Good luck with that. Are you a racist, mysogynist, or a member of the 1%? Because if you wanna take advantage of this situation, you probably need to belong in one of those categories. Within three years, y’all are gonna be wishing you woulda fought this guy with every patriotic cell in your body.
Is this website a forum to discuss the nuclear power industry or just another site to do political hack jobs? If this site is to have an intelligent discussion on what is wrong or right with the nuclear industry, I think it would be much more interesting. Why not have discussions on why construction costs have soared per unit such as Duane Arnold in Iowa, which was estimated at $250 million and went over the projected budget by $50 million, then in the next decade the construction costs went up by a factor of 8 to 10 times ($2 billion to $3 billion per unit). Now when the industry tries to build the new generation AP1000 design, that have reduced a very significant amount of the safety-related electrical and mechanical systems, they have again jacked it up by 4x to $8 billion per unit. With all of the advances of technology, engineering, and construction practices the industry has effectively priced their selves out of business. I guess that we are just not nearly as smart as we were in the sixties and seventies, and probably don’t have the competence and intelligence to complete the four units now under construction. It sure doesn’t bode well for the future of the industry to so mercilessly screw the ratepayers and the taxpayers and wonder why the public is not supportive for new construction. What was the logic of building four prototypes instead of building just one at first to prove the engineering and constructability of the new design? It looks like a scheme to maximize the government’s wealth redistribution from the citizens to the big corporations and that evil 1%. If you are going to show your stupidity, incompetence and inability to complete what you have committed to, please do it on just one unit and not four.
It is impossible to have an intelligent discussion about nuclear energy without allowing political commentary that is related to the topic. We also cannot intelligently discuss nuclear energy without context relating to its competitors, its professional detractors and the financial/political relationships between those two groups.
As moderator, I strive to discourage or eliminate discussion about politics that do not relate to energy.
With regard to your direct question, there would be no way to build a single prototype large reactor. The very specialized supply chain for the materials and components could not be assembled without the almost infinitely large resource base of the federal government. Even at a time when atomic energy was politically attractive, the first of a kind prototype light water reactor was the 60 MWe Shippingport power plant.
It’s not well understood, but the total lifetime cost of the four reactors at Vogtle and Summer–including financing costs–looks like it may actually be lower than initially budgeted. The technical and intellectual property advantages that Southern and SCANA have earned by going first will be difficult to quantify, but building large capital projects during a period of historically low interest rates has been a real, quantifiable boon that has overcome most of the FOAK cost and schedule challenges.
Rick Perry is a politician. That might prove to be a better choice for SecDoE than yet another physicist.
Yeah….he’s a politician, allright….
“Rick Perry’s Texas Giveaways”
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