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Showing posts from November, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from NEI!

NEI's offices are closed today in honor of the Thanksgiving Holiday. 
We'll be back in this space on December 1. See you then.

Message Sent and Received on Nuclear Value

It’s one thing for nuclear advocates to say that nuclear energy should be correctly valued as a carbon dioxide-free energy source. This means not just any new plants that will happen along, but, as important, those now in service. If the Environmental Protection Agency does not get this right in its upcoming rules covering emissions from electricity generators, it potentially could harm its goal.
If a nuclear facility is lost, then so is all that emission free energy and it puts their host states at a disadvantage at hitting their emission reduction targets. The relatively low cost of natural gas can seem appealing from one angle but not quite so attractive when it is filling in for a nuclear facility and not a coal plant. The emissions profile changes for the worse in the former case. 
Among energy mavens, this has become glaringly apparent. Here’s American Nuclear Society President Michaele Brady Raap:
The EPA proposal is laudable in many respects, but it needs significant adjust…

Pain From Vermont Yankee Closing Spreads Far and Wide

We continue our focus on the closing of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant with a guest post by Vermont resident Meredith Angwin. A nuclear industry veteran, Angwin is now project director of the Energy Education Project at the Ethan Allen Institute.

Vermont Yankee will close at the end of the year. I have blogged at Yes Vermont Yankee for five years. It’s hard to even know how to begin a description of the effects of closing Vermont Yankee. The pain starts with the people who work at the plant.

Hundreds of Goodbyes

Jan. 30, 2014, was the day that the “lists were up” at the plant. The plant will cease operations by the end of December 2014, and fuel should be unloaded to the fuel pool by the end of January 2015. In August, 2013, Entergy announced that the plant would close and not be refueled. "This was an agonizing decision and an extremely tough call for us," said Leo Denault, Entergy's chairman and chief executive officer, when the company announced its plans to clo…

Closing Vermont Yankee and All That It Does Not Produce – Greenhouse Gases

What becomes a nuclear facility most? These days, it may be its emission-free quality – its production of nothing, in other words, at least in terms of the greenhouse gases that have concerned policymakers and the public in recent years. In NEI’s third article on the closing of Vermont Yankee, we look at the implications of closing not only the source of 72.3 percent of Vermont’s electricity, but the implications of losing all that nothing – those gases that it doesn’t produce.
The loss of 604 megawatts of carbon-free generation will hinder efforts to reduce emissions in the region. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s draft plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants includes an initial estimate of how much each state will need to reduce emissions by 2030.  The proposed reduction targets show the difference that energy mix makes from state to state. And not only does it impact the region’s proposed EPA target, but it could make a mess of a more local concern, Ver…

Vermont Yankee and the Looming Energy Crisis

Is New England facing an energy crisis? Today, in the second of three parts about closing Vermont Yankee, NEI looks at the looming energy shortages in the far Northeast.
Along with Vermont Yankee, nearly 1,400 megawatts of baseload electric generating capacity will retire in New England this year, including a 750-megawatt coal- and petroleum-fired power plant in Massachusetts. But New England is using a lot of natural gas these days, right?
New England has significantly increased its reliance on natural gas for electricity in the past few years. The increase has contributed to pipeline transportation congestion in the region’s natural gas market, particularly in the winter when it competes for heating homes and businesses. Which can lead to, indeed, did lead to:
These supply constraints contributed to extreme spikes in spot natural gas and electricity prices in New England during the winters of 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. During the severe cold snap of January 2014’s polar vortex, the

Closing Vermont Yankee – And All That it Means

Vermont Yankee is a relatively small nuclear facility in a relatively small state. Its closure later this year will cause Vermont to import more electricity, but what happens in Vermont does not impact Vermont alone.

That’s important and this week, NEI will put up a set of Web pages that zero in on the implications of shuttering a nuclear reactor. The articles are grouped under the title “Closing Vermont Yankee” and covers the electricity markets, the possibility of an energy crisis in New England and the efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the region and country. And Vermont Yankee has an important role in all three topics.

The first article, available today, focuses on the electricity marketplace. The polar vortex showed the importance of nuclear plants to provide reliable energy (notably in New England) and the coming EPA carbon dioxide emissions rule makes manifest the value of clean nuclear facilities. In the article, industry executives warn that more nuclear plants …

From Verne to Rickover with the Nuclear Navy

Forbes’ takes on an interesting topic that flies under the radar of just about everyone, including many nuclear energy advocates: the Nuclear Navy.The Nuclear Navy has logged over 5,400 reactor years of accident-free operations and travelled over 130 million miles on nuclear energy, enough to circle the earth 3,200 times. The nuclear reactors can run for many, many years without refueling. They operate all over the world, sometimes in hostile environments, with no maintenance support except their own crew. These reactors can ramp up from zero to full power in minutes, as fast as any natural gas-fired plant.And a fair number of Nuclear Navy veterans find their way into the domestic industry (not to mention NEI). The Monticello (Minn.) Times features an interview with Thomas Shortell, training manager at Xcel Energy’s Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant.“When you think about rites of passage and academics, you’ve done it in the military,” Shortell said. “If somebody has made it through…

The China/U.S. Deal and Its Nuclear Portensions

The greenhouse gas deal reached by the United States and China promises to be exceptionally consequential. Reining in China’s emissions has always seemed a difficult, practically impossible goal because the huge country is very quickly trying to develop an industrial sector while providing electricity to a widely scattered and mammoth population. Despite a large commitment to nuclear energy, China has had a larger one to fossil fuels. The ghastly, and widely reported, air quality found in Beijing and other urban centers has been a result – and a symbol of China’s reluctance to change course.Now, it will change course.Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to cap China's emissions in the future — a striking, unprecedented move by a nation that has been reluctant to box itself in on global warming.To be more specific:China, whose emissions are still growing as it builds new coal plants, didn't commit to cut emissions by a specific amount. Rather, Xi set a target for China's emi…

None Dare Call It the Polar Vortex

Well, except for CBS News, which senses potential viewers for weather freak out news and is willing to turn “cold weather” into a brand – the way the Weather Channel has attempted to name snow storms despite no pressing need to do so.It's the return of the polar vortex that brought misery a year ago. A mass of whirling cold air will dip southward this weekend, sending the mercury plunging.But here’s the problem: the polar vortex is right where it should be. And that’s important, because the actual polar vortex has implications for the energy sphere which risks getting muddled if every cold blast is called a polar vortex.The actual polar vortex sent temperatures plummeting so fast last January that it froze natural gas lines and coal piles. During that time, when the prices of natural gas skyrocketed and coal facilities had to shut down, wind and especially nuclear energy kept the lights on. The event basically demonstrated the value of energy diversity, where one type of electric…

Go Nuclear and Go Now – The Inescapable Message of the IPCC

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2014 report on climate change is its fourth such  report this cycle. This report synthesizes the findings of the previous three working group reports. The result can be considered hair raising if this is the kind of thing that raises your hair (assuming you have any, of course.) Here’s the summary:Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth, and are now higher than ever. This has led to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Their effects, together with those of other anthropogenic drivers, have been detected throughout the climate system and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. [italics theirs]What drives much of the response to the IPCC’s work is not the science, which is way above the…

The 2014 Election's Impact on Nuclear Energy

The following post was submitted by Alex Flint, NEI's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs.

Elections have consequences. There will now be closer alignment on legislative priorities between the House and Senate, and the result will be more legislation being sent to the President for his signature. Whether he will enact or veto that legislation is an open question and will depend on whether the Congress decides to pursue a limited, consensus agenda with the President or decides to use the legislative process to highlight differences between the parties.

We expect energy legislation will be considered in the next two years, and it will include nuclear energy and used nuclear fuel management provisions. Certainly in the case of used fuel management, there are a lot of new members whose positions will need to be determined, and stumbling blocks that have hindered enactment of legislation still remain. However, serious consideration of legislation will resume, and NEI will st…

Nuclear Energy Is Better Supported than Many Know – And How You Can Help Them Know

Nuclear energy is now and has long been well supported by the American people. A recent poll conducted by Bisconti Research and Quest Global Research showed that a full 82 percent of respondents agreed that “We should take advantage of all low-carbon energy sources, including nuclear, hydro and renewable energy, to produce the electricity we need while limiting greenhouse gas emissions.”But an interesting finding may have something to do with muting that support and it’s something that you – and you and you – can do something about. Here’s the relevant bit:The survey also highlights various perception gaps where the public holds an opinion contrary to the facts, consistently finding, for example, that people greatly underestimate support for nuclear energy among their neighbors.While 65 percent personally favor nuclear energy, only 31 percent of the public believes that the majority of people in their community hold the same view. Forty percent believe that a majority opposes nuclear…