Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Comments:


  1. “PS Yesterday at 1:18 pm, a fault in the grid serving the Pilgrim nuclear station caused the plant to go off-line.”

    Off topic of main subject, but above quote is not technically accurate (and I don’t mean to split hairs on the time reference). Per the NRC Event Report: https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/en.html#en53147 the loss of the one Off-site Power line did not directly cause Pilgrim to go off-line. It was a procedural requirement (“management decision”) to reduce power and manually trip the plant. Why? (obviously a “loaded question”). They still had one other Off-site power line. In your opinion (and experience) is it safe (acceptable risk) to run a Light Water Reactor with only one Off-site power connection; or even with none, for that matter?

    But the “answer” explains why Entergy is pulling the plug on Pilgrim.

    1. BWR Tech Spec LCO 3.8.1 requires TWO OPERABLE independent sources of Offsite Power. When less than two – the plant is in a 72 hour SHUTDOWN action.
      BASIS 3.8.1 Two qualified circuits between the offsite transmission network and the onsite Class 1E Distribution System and DGs ensure availability of the required power to shut down the reactor and maintain it in a safe shutdown condition after an anticipated operational occurrence (AOO) or a postulated Design Basis Accident.

      Degrading grid conditions are something to be avoided. Pump motor current (and internal heat) rise a voltage degrades. Left unattended, degraded voltage can damage important AC powered equipment. Undervoltage automatic protection is present these relays generate abrupt trips and load transfers to Diesels.
      Controlled plant shut down involves a much gentler transition to shut down conditions than an automatic UV Loss of Offsite Power actuation.
      Been there, done that, got the tattoo.

  2. Well, of course.  ANYTHING that boosts oil demand will “help” solve OPEC’s inventory problem.  But by how much, though?

    Suppose the extra demand comes to 100 GW(th).  At 6.1 GJ/bbl, this comes to about 1.4 million bbl/d.  The EIA reports 424.5 million bbl of crude oil inventory at the end of last month.  I don’t know what the minimum operating inventories are, but a depletion pace that would take the better part of a year to get to zero doesn’t sound like a big issue to me.

    NB, I suspect that the district heat plants on Manhattan have switched over to oil as well due to pipeline capacity constraints.  There’s more inventory burned up.

  3. According to a report today on oilprice.com, most analysts expect inventories to grow for the next 6 months.

    There is nothing to the contrary on that site that I could see.

  4. My first thought/question upon reading Rod and Meredith’s coverage of the energy markets during this cold snap is, what is the quantitative value of NY state’s ZEC program? Prior AI posts summarized that “the ZECs will be priced at $17.48 per MWh. When combined with the wholesale price of electricity — currently about $39/MWh in the New York market — the ZECs will provide nuclear plant owners with a total revenue of ~ $56 per MWh.”

    As the recent “EIA Today In Energy” points out, spot market wholes electricity prices in New York city reached $200/MWh on January 1, 2018 – I wonder what the hypothetical net value of the ZEC would be over these cold snap periods and would the value offset its any costs from prolonged supply “gluts” the rest of the year?

  5. @mjd: Tech Specs require two independent offsite power sources. If one is lost, they are allowed to operate for a certain number of hours. If those hours have elapsed and the source is not restored, then the Tech Specs require the unit be shutdown. It is essentially a pre-solved set of coarse rules for managing risk with different scenarios of degraded systems. Compliance is mandatory, and not a “management decision “.

    1. @cpcragman

      Whose permission is required to revise tech specs? Is a licensing amendment required?

      Is there any Lee-way provided if external conditions merit special considerations? I’m not saying those existed here, since there was an adequate system reserve available – albeit at a far higher marginal cost per MWh.

      1. I seem to remember the Tech Specs are a part of the licensing basis. I used to fill out paper for minor changes long ago.

    2. CPcragman, I obviously know the meaning of Tech Spec LCOs and Action Statement completion time requirements (but not Pilgrim specifics). Typically for Loss of an Off-site Power Source 72 hours is allowed for restoration. From the info available, Pilgrim S/D within 1 hour of the loss. If so, that was by Management Decision, not Tech Specs. And they had already started and loaded the EDGs. So I still would like to know why they actually S/D so quick.

  6. @Rod Adams says January 6, 2018 at 4:53 AM
    Rod, NRC permission is required via License Amendment. “Lee-way” can be provided via the Licensee asking NRC (at-the-time) for “selective enforcement” and giving the technical justification. NRC may or may not approve it. But it is/has been successfully used in other cases.

  7. How has “wood” burning energy become classified as ‘renewable’ anyways? WHY can we not get SOME adoption of nuclear energy as being renewable? There’s practically none, even in the industry!

    1. The definition of “renewable” is political, not scientific.  There’s no scientific reason to include wind and solar while excluding hydro.

      I’m arguably running on not-very-renewable renewable energy, as my heat for last night and today was coming from burning borer-killed ash trees.  Letting them rot doesn’t help matters, though.  Might as well get all the benefit we can from them.

    2. Hunster, wood is considered to be a renewable because presumably the tree lot will regrow. This classification is controversial.

      Nuclear is not considered to be renewable under the dubious assumption that we will eventually run out of uranium.

      1. “Nuclear is not considered to be renewable under the dubious assumption that we will eventually run out of uranium.”

        Seems to be plenty of Thorium and Plutonium in spent fuel and such that people have plans to use. The Thorium is basically tailings from Rare Earth mining.

  8. Great article, Rod.

    Do you know if the “refuse” portion of the renewables is literally burning trash in incinerators or is it landfill gas or what? I can’t imagine that the former is any cleaner for the environment than burning coal.

    I am burning quite a bit of wood myself these days. Better to burn it than let the termites release it as methane. Doing my part to save the planet.

    Your discussion of the “oil glut” made me wonder what the current status of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve is. 93% full with ~143 days of of import protection. This is not the highest inventory ever, but it is tied for the maximum duration of import protection ever…




  9. To be faithful to their stated concerns (AGW) they really should be worrying about decarbonization not renewables. In that case Nuclear is a clear winner.

    1. Such faithfulness does not exist apart from the ecomodernists.  So-called “environmentalists” today are almost entirely professional greenwashers for fossil-fuel interests.

    2. An immigrant to the US from an undeveloped country increases their “carbon footprint” by a factor of at least 3. Then consider that they tend to have larger families. Most of the “let them all in” crowd likely believe that CO2 is a significant problem. Logic be damned.

Recent Comments from our Readers

  1. Avatar
  2. Avatar
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

Similar Posts