Georgia Nuke Becoming Boondoggle Poster Child

February 12, 2013

vogtle2

Looks like another news outlet has noticed that the Vogtle Nuclear Power plant, currently under construction in Georgia, is the recipient of federal loan guarantees some 15 times larger than the widely trumpeted Solyndra bankruptcy. And yes, Vogtle is turning into a boondoggle. So the Christian Science Monitor became the latest major pub to carry the story.(see below)

Don’t look for this to become a nightly hobby horse for Fox News, talk radio, and conservative congressmen – because it does not fit the right wing narrative. That Narrative is that coal, gas and nuclear power are good American sources of energy, and renewable power, solar and wind, are  part of a subversive, socialist, Kenyan plot.

That a nuclear project is off the rails should not be a shock. We ran that experiment in the 70s and 80s, and it turned into one of the largest economic disasters the nation had yet seen in those innocent times. More recently, the Congressional Budget Office noted that the risks of nuclear loan guarantees for taxpayers were prohibitively high.

Cleanenergy.org:

Private lenders have declined to finance new reactors because of the enormously high cost of new nuclear power and the substantial risk that any such investment will fail. In 2003, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the chance of a loan for new nuclear reactor construction resulting in default would be “very high – well over 50 percent.”

The Obama administration’s proposed loan guarantee for Vogtle transfers the risk onto American taxpayers, who would pay up to $8.33 billion if Southern Company and its partners run into the same kind of trouble that is routine in the nuclear power industry—cost overruns, delays and project cancellations. And Vogtle does have a history that should trouble taxpayers worried about assuming responsibility for the massive loan guarantee: the original two reactors at the Georgia site took almost 15 years to build, came in 1,200 percent over budget and resulted in the largest rate hike at the time in Georgia.

Conservative Daily News:

Further, this loan is an expensive gamble on a technology with a long history of bankrupting utilities and soaking ratepayers. There is an extremely high risk that taxpayers will be on the hook if the Vogtle loan guarantee proceeds. The loan guarantee is an up-front bailout that will enable Southern Company to make an uneconomic investment.

AP:

Robert Baker, a former utility regulator, said he planned to ask Georgia’s Public Service Commission to adopt a plan that would trim the utility’s profits if the project comes in over budget. Because the monopoly is guaranteed a profit on every dollar it spends, Baker said it has a disincentive to control costs.

“There is now no way that this project can come in on-budget and on-time as has been stated repeatedly,” he said.

Several issues account for the delays. Southern Co. received its license to build from federal regulators months later than expected. The companies building the plant still have not agreed on an updated start-to-finish schedule.

Metal bars that will become part of the plant foundation were not installed exactly as required in plans, an error uncovered by federal inspectors. That required extra time and fixes. The Shaw Group Inc. in Lake Charles, La., experienced difficulty meeting stringent documentation and other quality rules required in the nuclear industry as it built parts for the facility.

So, you have all the ingredients that made the nuclear industry what it became in the 80s. Cost plus contracts – check.  Sloppy foundation work – check. Steady drip of limited hang-outs about cost overruns and newly discovered screw-ups – check. The project is now a year behind and “hundreds of millions” over budget. You can be sure that will increase ten fold before this is over.

Christian Science Monitor:

Construction of the first newly licensed US nuclear power plant in decades could become a “Solyndra-like” debacle thanks to billions in federal loan guarantees whose terms appear too weak to protect taxpayers, according to one group’s analysis of internal documents released by the US Department of Energy.

The two-reactor $14 billion Vogtle plant being built in Georgia is seen as a test of the US nuclear industry’s planned “renaissance” with a new nuclear reactor design and updated construction processes all aimed at cutting time and costs.

But two Massachusetts-based energy-consulting firms, Earth Track and Synapse Energy Economics, say the $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees backing the project were crafted with excessively favorable financial terms for the recipient companies, weak federal oversight, and possible political interference in the loan-guarantee process.

The two firms analyzed hundreds of Energy Department e-mails and financial documents released earlier this month to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), a green-energy watchdog group that won access to them in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Officials for the Obama administration and Southern Company, the company that will operate the plants, say there’s nothing improper going on.

In their report, Earth Track and Synapse say the documents reveal:

  • “Potentially troubling” conversations between political appointees and borrowers over loan terms and getting the deal done.
  • Credit subsidy payments, the amount that companies pay in compensation for the government loan guarantees, that appear far too low to offer adequate protection to taxpayers in the event of a default.
  • An “over-reliance on external contractors” for key risk evaluations.
  • Continued tinkering with credit subsidy assessment tools even after credit subsidy estimate letters were sent to borrowers, leaving taxpayers with more risk than necessary.

What’s interesting, is the slanting of the Monitor article with phrases such as ‘Solyndra-like” – darkly insinuating – what? That, like the Solyndra non-story, there’s nothing to see here? It’s a little confirmation of how relentless poisoning of  the info-sphere by bogus right wing news networks has a pervasive and corrupting effect on all news reporting.

The difference is, of course, that government loans make sense for emerging industries and cutting edge technology, and its easy to cite examples where US leadership was established with government support – for instance, jet engines, microchips, personal computers, the internet, GPS devices.  It’s harder to make the case for a technology that should long ago have been mature enough to stand on its own.  The fact is, that nowhere in the world is there any private capital that will invest in a nuclear project without government support or guarantees.

Solar energy is an area with huge potential and significant research still to be done, and is a completely appropriate use of taxpayer funds. Clearly, the nation that learns to run itself on fuel that is free will be the nation that dominates the coming century. The Chinese and the Germans know this. It’s not clear that we do, yet.

 

43 Responses to “Georgia Nuke Becoming Boondoggle Poster Child”

  1. MorinMoss Says:

    I was hoping this wouldn’t be the case but the industry just can’t seem to get it right.

  2. andrewfez Says:

    Hmmm. 8.33 billion dollars. And according to Wind Energy The Facts, the US cost of wind is 1.15 million dollars per megawatt. In other words, 8.33 billion dollars could have added 7,243 megawatts of wind to the US’s portfolio. 7.25 gigawatts.

    How many watts is this nuclear power plant going to produce?

    Hmmm. How much did Sandy cost? Like $42 billion? I just got that number from the first article on google that came up. So 42,000/1.15 = 36.5 GW of wind. What’s the US’s total grid capacity? 1,000GW? 800GW? So the cost of Sandy could have replaced 4% of the US’s capacity (or added) with wind.

    Hmmm. If we cut our defense budget in half for a couple of years, we could use that money to be the world leader in wind capacity (regarding % of the grid).

    http://www.wind-energy-the-facts.org/en/part-3-economics-of-wind-power/chapter-1-cost-of-on-land-wind-power/cost-and-investment-structures/

    • rayduray Says:

      Re: “How much did Sandy cost? Like $42 billion?”

      Congress has already authorized $60 Billion for recovery. NWS/NOAA’s estimated loss is $71.4 Billion.

      And Wikipedia cites a slightly higher figure here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_costliest_Atlantic_hurricanes

      • MorinMoss Says:

        How much do you think Nemo will add to that bill?

        • rayduray Says:

          Re: “How much do you think Nemo will add to that bill?”

          Winter Storm Nemo is a tiddler. It’ll ring in somewhere between $2 and 4 Billion.

          Here’s a comparable. Sandy caused 8.5 Million customers to lose electricity. That figure was 650,000 for Nemo.

          Wind damage from Nemo was negligible. It was a big gale, but only gusted occasionally to hurricane force winds.

          The coast got off very lucky. Whereas the 13.88 feet above MLLW on the tide gauge in New York Harbor was 2 feet above any previous record, the Nemo storm surge mostly hit at low tide and didn’t do much damage at all in comparison.

      • andrewfez Says:

        Hi Ray,

        Yeah, the wiki article, if nothing else shows that the costliest storms are the most recent. It would be good to see all those numbers adjusted for inflation.

        It would also be fun to run the following exercise: calculate the average cost of hurricanes for a time when the global temps are 0.8 above baseline vs. 0.3 or 0.5 above baseline. Of course, the continuous sprawl of new homes and buildings etc., secondary to population rise, and economic/structural growth has to be factored in. But the idea is to find a trend between the two, to see the opportunity cost of not going big on wind/solar. I’m sure Munich RE, etc. has already done this.

        • rayduray Says:

          Re: “It would also be fun to run the following exercise”

          Well there you go. Instant master’s thesis.

          Re: “I’m sure Munich RE, etc. has already done this.”

          I’ve read a lot of Munich RE’s output on natural disasters and I think they sort of sidle up to this topic but don’t address it directly in the fashion you suggest.

          ***
          While not climate related, I like to think about the potential for a catastrophic event on the Cascasdia Subduction Zone as a comparable.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cascadia_Subduction_Zone

          In January, 1700 a calculated 9.0 earthquake occurred on the Cascadia fault. It was recorded as causing some harbor damage in Japan. On the North American continent, indigenous tribes passed along oral stories about the event. There is no record of any damage of any “dollar” amount on North America. That same fault is more-or-less scheduled to cut loose again this century. Estimated cost? $32 Billion.

          http://www.kptv.com/story/20974824/quake-report-shows-lack-of-readiness-in-oregon

  3. kap55 Says:

    That would be 7.25 gigawatts of nameplate capacity, which now needs to be multiplied by the availability factor (roughly 30% for wind), giving 1.275 GW. Units 3 and 4 at Vogtle are AP1000’s, producing 1.12 GW each, times the typical nuclear availability factor of 90%, giving 2 GW. So nuclear still looks cheap compared to wind.

    • andrewfez Says:

      Hi kap55,

      How are you converting between actual wind capacity an nominal capacity? If you’re saying, on average, the former is 30% of the latter then the quick calculation is 7.25 (0.30) = 2.175GW of wind. How are you getting 1.275?

      Also, I thought the latest generation of windmills was getting better than 30%, on average? A reference inside the link below has a few numbers to look at:

      https://climatecrocks.com/2012/07/30/wind-turbine-capacity-50-is-the-new-normal/

      See ya,

      A Fez

    • MorinMoss Says:

      The cap factor for turbines is getting better and is above 30% if you exclude ones more than 10 yrs old.
      Taken across the last few decades, the avg cap factor for nukes was 60 – 70%+.

      When you have a very large proportion of nuclear, like France does, your capacity factor can hit a celiing as you may need to operate some of them as load-following.

      Because of that the avg capacity factor of French nuke plants is below 80%

      • kap55 Says:

        Oh, I get it. When we compute wind, we use the latest-and-greatest, but when we compute nuclear, we use decades-old data? In the real world, that’s called cherry picking. The actual capacity factor for US nuclear plants has been at or near 90% for the last ten years.

        Also, from a climate standpoint, idling nuclear is a completely different kettle of fish than idling wind. When you idle a nuke because of overcapacity, you get no carbon emissions. When the wind dies and the wind turbines idle themselves, you crank up the gas turbines to take up the slack.

        • MorinMoss Says:

          And you weren’t cherrypicking?
          If I were using only the latest and greatest for wind, I’d be quoting 37 – 50%.

          Nuke capacity factor took decades to get to that number you’re quoting.
          Why don’t we give wind power 20 years and we’ll see how it’s doing.

          I don’t ever expect it to rise above 60% but, if it gets there, that’ll be damn good for an intermittent resource.

          Here’s chart of the improvement in nuke capfac since ’71

          http://www.nei.org/corporatesite/media/filefolder/US_Nuclear_Industry_Capacity_Factors.ppt

          • kap55 Says:

            We’ve given wind decades, and what we’ve found is that actual on-the-ground truth of windpower is that the capacity factor degrades over time as the turbine wears. Just do me a favor and read the report of the Renewable Energy Foundation which I cited earlier; it includes actual data from the UK and Denmark, and you can find it here: http://www.ref.org.uk/publications/280-analysis-of-wind-farm-performance-in-uk-and-denmark

            It’s not pretty, but it is an inconvenient truth.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            Only Denmark has significant experience over decades using wind turbines for electricity generation.

            In 1985, capacity factor was 10.5%, doubling to 20% in 1990 but essentially stagnating for over a dozen years then slowly climbing to 25% after that.

            There was a stretch from 2002 – 2009 where very few new turbines were installed

            The last few yrs have seen an uptick in installed capacity with capfac approaching 28%

          • ontspan Says:

            Re kap55 at February 14, 2013 at 5:25 am

            I’ve downloaded the production data from Denmark and cannot find a trace of the 50% power reduction after 10 years of operation as this article from Gordon Hughes claims. Add this to the previous track record of questionable articles from this economics professor and his association with known anti-renewables/climate disinformation groups, I’d call his claims: bullshit.

            No other paper on turbine failures or reliability comes even close to his power reductions. On the contrary, they show that turbines do experience breakdowns (as does every machine) but in general get’s repaired quickly and availability factors remains high in the 90% (availability factor means that when wind blows enough the turbine will produce power).

        • MorinMoss Says:

          I’ve spent some time looking through the Denmark data from the REF ORG UK link you provided and I cannot see how the study author reached his conclusion that Danish offshore turbines drop from, in his words “a normalised load factor of 39% at age 0 to 15% at age 10”

          Denmark has installed 405 offshore turbines ( hey, Cape Wind – get the lead out already) as follows:

          1991 – 11 450 kW
          1995 – 10 500 kW
          2000 – 20 2 MW
          2002 – 82 2 MW
          2003 – 91 2.3 MW
          2009 – 91 2.3 MW, 7 3 MW and 2 3.6 MW
          2010 – 90 2.3 MW
          2011 – 1 3.6 MW

          As of Aug 2012, all turbines are still in operation; let’s start with the oldest – Vindeby:

          Max possible yearly output for a 450 kW unit is 3942000 kWh or 3.94 GWh

          Avg per-turbine power output averaged over 5 yrs and shifted by 3 is:

          Yrs Avg Ann. kWh Cap Fac
          ’92 – ’96 969127 .246
          ’95 – ’99 886745 .225
          ’98 – ’02 903564 .229
          ’01 – ’05 941155 .239
          ’04 – ’08 956802 .243
          ’07 – ’11 918452 .233

          Not bad for a bunch of 21 yr old turbines a mile offshore in salt water.

          Let’s move on to the Tunø Knob (no, doesn’t mean “tune the knob”) farm:

          Max possible yearly output for a 500 kW unit is 4380000 kWh or 4.38 GWh

          Yrs Avg Ann. kWh Cap Fac
          ’96 – ’99 1378113 .315
          ’98 – ’02 1407247 .321
          ’01 – ’05 1337737 .305
          ’04 – ’08 1351033 .310
          ’07 – ’11 1380879 .315

          So, it’s clear that from this small 2 farm , 20 turbine sample that the Danes have gotten reasonably consistent performance over a span of 2 decades.

          On to Middelgrunden, an interesting farm located within viewing distance of Copenhagen. From the Wikipedia page that lists Danish offshore wind farms, the cap fac was a surprisingly low 26%, which would be a very good number for onshore or for the older offshore ones above but well below the 30 – 40% that’s typical for Danish offshore.

          The explanation is given in the caption below a photo of the turbines:

          “Wind often flows briskly and smoothly over water since there are no obstructions. The large and slow turning turbines of this offshore wind farm near Copenhagen take advantage of the moderate yet constant breezes at this location. While the wind at this location is not strong it is very consistent, with the turbines generating substantial power over 97 percent of the time.”

          So a very reliable although not high-performing site. Which is something to keep in mind when those who wish to denigrate wind through around low CapFac numbers.
          Unfortunately, I’ve had difficulty finding this availability number (if that’s the correct term) for wind farms.

          The max possible annual output for one of the 20 2 MW turbines at this site would be 17520000 or 17.52 GWh.

          5 yr Avg ann. nrg Cap Fac
          ’01 – ’05 4385612 .250
          ’04 – ’08 4706426 .269
          ’07 – ’11 4700099 .268

          Still no precipitous drop at the 10 yr mark but perhaps larger number of big turbines don’t perform as well over time as the smaller ones.

          Let’s look at Horn Rev 1, 82 2 MW Vestas turbines installed in 2002

          Max possible annual output per turbine – 17.52 GWh
          Due to the shorter timeline, changing to 4 yr spans with 2 yr shifts
          Last period will be only 3 yrs avg

          4 yr Avg ann. nrg Cap Fac
          ’03 – ’06 6415317 .366
          ’05 – ’08 7852088 .448
          ’07 – ’10 7604741 .434
          ’09 – ’11 7570480 .432

          So again, no appreciable difference after a decade.
          There are still the turbines installed in 2003 to consider but I think I’ve made my point. While I don’t have all the fancy calculations at my disposal that Gordon Hughes posseses, I can’t discern the mathemagic he’s employed to show Danish offshore turbines dropping to 15% capfac when simple averaging and eyeballing the power output numbers shows only marginal decreases well beyond a dozen years.

  4. kap55 Says:

    Also, as a general note, I’m in favor of wind. I’m in favor of all non-fossil energy sources. But I just can’t figure out why Peter isn’t, and this article sheds no light on that topic. Yes, a nuclear plant is expensive, especially when deployed in a restrictive regulatory environment such as currently exists in the US. But you get a lot of power for the money, which makes the final product cheap. And (in spite of scare tactics by some) it is still the safest form of electrical generation ever invented.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      It would be more accurate to say that nuclear has the most restrictive safety practices not that it’s the safest form invented.

      I’m sure we could generate lots of power from fission in very unsafe ways.

      • kap55 Says:

        I’m sure we *could* make nuclear unsafe if we tried to do so, but the question is which form of energy generation is the safest. On that, nuclear is easily the safest. See, e.g., http://www.nuceng.ca/refer/risk/risk.htm

        • MorinMoss Says:

          We’ve INSISTED that nuclear BE the safest. Not that it’s inherently so.
          If we did the same for coal plants, I’m sure it would no longer be the cheapest source for power generation.

          I’ve read that coal plants have higher radiation levels on the periphery than nuclear ones – what if it was a requirement that those soot-belchers had to conform to the same standard?

          • kap55 Says:

            Actually, given the amount of material that must be mined for coal, I suspect that it’s flat impossible to make coal safer than nuclear.

            And you’re right, the amount of radiation emitted by a coal plant is 100 times greater than the radiation emitted by a nuclear plant. Yes, 100 times greater. But the greatest danger from coal plant emissions is simply the “normal” air pollution, which regularly kills a lot of people. Just one more reason to turn off the frickin’ coal plants.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            I hope you don’t assume I’m adamantly opposed to nuclear but it’s been something of a disappointment.
            That said, I wish we would get over the rabid fear of reprocessing and stop burying what we can recycle.

            If terrorists are a concern, just up the security – it’ll well be worth the trouble and will give the military something to do that doesn’t involve dying overseas to protect the freedoms of gas guzzlers.

            And I think there are ways to poison the waste with small amounts of hard gamma emitters that are easily detected and still make it possible to reprocess.


  5. Wikipedia:
    Vogtle Nuclear Powerplant 1117MWe each two units
    cost is expected to be 14billion dollars
    Capacity Factor Nuclear Power 70% US Avg 1971-2009
    14e9$/(2)(1117MWe)=6.266$/MWe nameplate
    6.266e6$/MWe /(0.90)=6.962$/Mwe

    Capacity Factor Wind Farms (0.27)
    1.15e6$/MWe nameplate
    1.15e6$/MWe /(0.27)=4.629e6$/MWe

    Wind would have to be at 1.729e6$/Mwe nameplate or higher to
    equal or exceed nuclear $/MWe costs. Higher still if the 0.70 capacity
    factor for US Avg 1971-2009 is used.

  6. kap55 Says:

    You’re missing the fact that nuclear plants have 40 year lifespans, while wind turbines last 12 to 15 years. So you’re going to have to build that windfarm three times over during the nuclear plant lifetime.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/windpower/9770837/Wind-farm-turbines-wear-sooner-than-expected-says-study.html

    • MorinMoss Says:

      I’ve never heard of a nuke plant lasting 40 years without expensive maintenance, often in the hundreds of millions.

      • kap55 Says:

        The average age of operating nuclear powerplants in the US is 32 years, and nuclear plants have 40-year operating licenses from the NRC (which are often extended). It’s true that nuclear plants require maintenance (as does any powerplant of any type), but this is accounted for under the normal O&M. That’s quite different from building an entirely new plant (or new wind turbine).

        • MorinMoss Says:

          Turbines are getting (very much) bigger and quite a bit better in a relatively short time.
          And on any given wind farm, you dont’ have to replace them all at once, barring a catastrophe.

          And if the new turbines are more productive and costs less, why wouldn’t you?

          You can easily recycle the old ones, which is tough to do with a nuclear plant.

          I expect much the same to happen with PV panels after 10 yrs or so as I’m quite confident that we’ll see better than 50% improvement in that time for 1/2 the current price.

    • Jason Says:

      “…while wind turbines last 12 to 15 years.”

      Claims rabid anti-wind turbine think-tank fronted by that poster child of rational thought – Noel Edmunds.

      Meanwhile everyone else still expects turbines to last 20 – 25 years.

      The Department of Energy and Climate Change rejected Prof Hughes’ findings. “Our expectations of wind turbine lifetimes are based on rigorous analysis and evidence,”

      But here’s the thing that tickles me. Prof Hughes, who wrote the 15 years report, is a fully paid up academic. He knows all about peer reviewed publishing. He knows it’s the best place to publish research and analysis. He knows what the standards of acceptance are. He knows which journals will accept analysis on wind turbine life span. So why publish via an anti-wind farm campaign group?

      • MorinMoss Says:

        I’ve had a look at the Denmark data ( I haven’t figured out how to quickly make sense of the UK data) and, even if you cherrypick only the turbines that were decommissioned, presumably for poor performance, the power output is reliable at least 14-18 years from start date.

        Denmark has some 20 – 30 yr old turbines that are still running producing power at 60-90% of their single-year peak.

  7. joffan7 Says:

    I really wish Peter would take the kind of hard look at anti-nuclear claims that he brings to climate denialists. Because he’s been sold a crock.

    Debunking this article:
    1. Actually Vogtle has received zero in loan guarantees. They have provisional agreement that they are eligible, but since they need to pay a fee, they are still negotiating that. Note that Solyndra – and all other carbon reduction programs other than nuclear – had the loan guarantee fee waived, so theirs was a REAL subsidy, not a commercial loan guarantee.

    2. I don’t understand the obsession with the size of the loan guarantee. Vogtle will produce a great deal of electricity; far more than the other projects covered by guarantees.

    3. The most commonly cited source of the CBO’s dislike of nuclear power is a study they did about 10 years ago that had a completely arbitrary figure for defaults. There was no rationale behind it; it had been plucked from the air. Nevertheless it is treated ever since as a serious figure produced through study.

    4. In order for a loan guarantee to activate, the constructors actually have to default on their loan – ie. become bankrupt. It is not a miscellaneous cover for minor construction schedule issues. It is not a bailout, as indeed you can see from Solyndra.

    5. The foundation rebar is an example of the bureaucratic hurdles that nuclear faces. The rebar was a higher grade than specified – result, the NRC took months of design review to eventually agree that it was fine.

    6. Some kind of government guarantees are important for nuclear construction, because historically the major risk to these projects is from the government. You only have to look at Shoreham and the ridiculous lengths to which the state went to stop a fully-constructed nuclear plant from operating to understand this risk.

    What we have here, especially in the CSM article, is a set of anti-nuclear organizations selling a dramatic fiction of skullduggery to the media. Nobody who has a claim to skepticism should buy it for an instant.


  8. Nuclear power plants have fueling costs. Wind does not. Wind turbines last more than 15 years. The citation given has four other article complaining about wind. Its biased.
    Loan guarantees are a subsidy. If the bank assumes more risk, the interest rate goes up. Then the loan is more expensive. A loan guarantee can lower interest rates. Its easy to dismiss the banks reluctance to make loans for nuclear construction until one looks at it from their viewpoint. There are a number of nuclear projects that have been stopped before completion due to cost over runs. Banks cannot afford to overlook this. The article states that it is a “proposed loan guarantee”. The CBO cannot be considered an “anti-nuclear organization selling a dramatic fiction of skullduggery”.

    CBO:
    However, historical experience suggests that investing in nuclear generating capacity engenders considerable risk. One study found that of the 117 privately owned plants in the United States that were started in the 1960s and 1970s and for which data were available, 48 were canceled, and almost all of them experienced significant cost overruns. As a consequence, most of the utilities that undertook nuclear projects suffered ratings downgrades—sometimes several downgrades—during the construction phase.

    However, bondholders experienced losses from defaults in only a few instances. Losses for the most part were borne by the projects’ equity holders, the regions’ electricity ratepayers, and the government. Supporters of nuclear power argue that newer plant designs and changes in the regulatory environment make nuclear investments less risky now, but recent experience abroad suggests that cost overruns and delays are still common phenomena, and concerns remain about an uncertain regulatory environment and changes in demand for electricity.

    • joffan7 Says:

      O&M costs for wind and nuclear, including fuel in the case of nuclear, are comparable for power produced.

      Wind may last more than 15 years, and nuclear may definitely last more than 40.

      Loan guarantees are available commercially, not just from government. They become a subsidy when they don’t have to be paid for. Solyndra did not pay for their loan guarantees – that was a subsidy. Vogtle will have to pay for their loan guarantee – it may still be a partial subsidy, or may not, depending on the level of the fee, but certainly it’s less of a subsidy than all of the solar/wind etc loan guarantees were.

      I feel quite strongly that the government, in setting a fee for the loan guarantee (if indeed they feel they must do that), should discount the risks that are attached to government action.

      And, incidentally, I have nothing against subsidies applied correctly. This entire program was a reasonable cause to be subsidizing, and I think that government should indeed offer loan guarantees without charge for all zero-carbon build – solar, wind, nuclear, etc.

      Your quote from the CBO clearly illustrates that 50% is an unrealistic figure to apply to the risk of nuclear build default.


  9. The utility wants the loan guarantee because it is an economic advantage. It is a subsidy and they know it. If it were not, why would they want it? If it was not better than a private loan guarantee, they would reject it, right? And if the government were trying to promote or foster nuclear, why would the offer it? It doesn’t make any sense if its not an economic advantage. A subsidy. That is not the only subsidy nuclear gets. It gets rates collected from consumers before it produces a dime of electricity. It gets a pass on disaster insurance. Nuclear, coal, oil, and gas should not have any subsidies because they are mature technologies that should make it or break it by now. Anything they get now is just a hand out. The real lobbying picture shows the biggest giants that have the least need for subsidies receive the largest subsidies. That is perversely backwards and counterproductive.
    Wikipedia:
    The Delabole wind farm is a wind farm located in Delabole, Cornwall, England. It was the first commercial wind farm constructed in the UK.[1]
    The farm was first proposed in 1989, and was opened in 1991.[1][2] For its first two decades, it operated ten wind turbines, built by Vestas,[2
    You can stop with the wind may last 15 years bit any time now. Cherry picking and a biased source.
    What is the source that shows wind O&M vs nuclear O&M plus fuel?
    Far from being sold a crock, Peter is showing what a crock has been sold to ratepayers.
    http://www.ajc.com/news/business/georgia-powers-rates-a-key-part-of-southerns-fourt/nQQg2/
    Customers paying down the financing costs for Georgia Power’s planned nuclear expansion project, as well the utility’s rate hike, were a key part of parent Southern Co.’s robust fourth-quarter profit, the company said early Wednesday.
    That fee is on top of three-year rate increased approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission a year ago, adding an average $10.76 to bills each month.
    Its an old story. Utilities rake in the benefits, and dump the rate hike on the consumer, and try to duck the consequences. This is only the beginning. As cost over runs mount, the rate hikes will continue.
    The messenger is not the enemy, whether its CBO or Peter. From Wikipedia:
    Of the 253 nuclear power reactors originally ordered in the United States from 1953 to 2008, 48 percent were canceled, 11 percent were prematurely shut down, 14 percent experienced at least a one-year-or-more outage, and 27 percent are operating without having a year-plus outage. Thus, only about one fourth of those ordered, or about half of those completed, are still operating and have proved relatively reliable.[20]
    So why isn’t 50% a reasonable number for loan default? It is clear that mortgaging a nuclear power plant is risky.
    Since nuclear construction stopped years ago, the average plant age has increased. If the number of plants shut down or experiencing a year or more outage is factored in, the result is different. The age is an artifact of the fact that no new power plants have been built lately and the ones that failed early are gone.

    • joffan7 Says:

      Jeez, some people can’t take yes for an answer.

      You say: “Wind turbines last more than 15 years.”
      I say: “Wind may last more than 15 years”
      You get annoyed about it.

      I can tell how much attention you’re paying to this conversation. I’m not spoonfeeding you any more of your own quotes to try to make you recognize how unreasonable you’re being.

      • MorinMoss Says:

        Your “yes” is more like a “yah, well, okay, if you say so”.

        Looking through the Danish stats, here’s what I found:

        Of 23 turbines, installed between Dec 1977 and Dec 1979, the earliest retirement was Jul ’97 for 1 turbine after 18 yrs and another in Jun 2000 after 22 yrs

        Two turbines installed in Dec ’77 were retired in Nov 2002 after 25 yrs.

        All the others were taken out of service in 2002 / 2003 after service lifetimes of 22 – 24 yrs.

        I found a turbine installed in Aug ’79 that’s STILL in operation – 33 YRS!
        There’s a significant drop in its output starting 2001 to about 65 – 80% of its peak production but it’s maintained that level since.

        • joffan7 Says:

          I did in fact just take the 15 year figure directly from Christopher’s comment to which I was replying, without considering much. In the past I have used 25 years as a working average fiigure for wind turbine life, which sounds pretty close on the Danish experience you report.


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