Ceres recently issued an update of its 2012 report, Practicing Risk-Aware Electricity Regulation. The updated report concludes that large fossil fuel and nuclear power plants are the riskiest investments for utilities, and that renewable energy, distributed generation, and energy efficiency are lower-risk investments with potentially lower price tags than baseload alternatives.
According to Ceres, these relative investment risks are driven in part by recent developments in the U.S. electricity sector. Notably, the EPA is poised to regulate carbon emissions from new and existing power plants in the near future. In addition, renewable energy costs have decreased significantly in recent years, and some renewable technologies are either approaching or have already become cost-competitive with fossil fuel resources. Impending carbon regulations and increased deployment of distributed generation and energy efficiency are placing added pressure on entrenched utility business models, and, as GEI’s Nate Larsen recently discussed, regulators are beginning to explore strategies to modernize the grid.
Renewable energy resources such as onshore wind and solar PV are insulated from risks associated with fuel price volatility and emissions regulations, and the levelized costs of these resources are on par or below the levelized costs of fossil fuel resources. Nevertheless, many utility integrated resource plans continue to identify renewables as higher cost, higher risk resource options……….
A carbon emissions allowance program that places a premium on renewable energy generation is one potential strategy to deter investments in high-risk fossil fuel resources, but it is by no means the only available strategy. State public utility commissions should consider revising their resource planning and procurement rules to send a clear message to utilities that investments in baseload fossil fuel plants are not prudent and that zero-emitting resources are in the public interest.
Ratepayer advocates should closely monitor levelized cost projections and oppose investments in resources that are vulnerable to long-term cost increases. And finally, policymakers should ensure that applicable legal and policy frameworks incentivize energy infrastructure development that mitigates ratepayer and taxpayer vulnerability to risk over extended timeframes. Infrastructure constructed today will likely operate for multiple decades, and it is imperative that we discourage investments that will lock-in exposure to rising costs and environmental degradation for years to come. http://greenenergyinstitute.blogspot.com.au/
William Jacobs, who monitors the Vogtle project for the Georgia Public Service Commission, wrote in a report released Monday that he thinks the new units will be delayed past their current forecasted completions of late 2017 and 2018. Based on current activities, “it is impossible to determine” when the units will be begin producing commercial power…….
Georgia Power’s agreement requires the contractor to cover the costs of inflation in building materials and labor as well as imposing penalties for being late. Still, expenses for the added costs of delays could be passed to ratepayers……..http://chronicle.augusta.com/latest-news/2014-11-25/plant-vogtle-expansion-falling-further-behind-schedule-construction-monitor?v=1416929111
Renewable Energy Farms Spread Through California Deserts NewsWeek, BY ELIJAH WOLFSON / NOVEMBER 24, 2014 “…….. , part of the interconnected swatches of desert land in California that, combined, make up the largest wilderness area in the Lower 48. It’s also about to become host to the biggest renewable-energy projects in the world.
Already, 13 of them are built or on the way. There’s the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, under construction just east of Joshua Tree National Park; its solar photovoltaic cells will cover over 4,000 acres of public land administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). When completed in 2015 (assuming things go as planned), it is expected to peak at a nominal power of 550 megawatts—making it the most powerful solar farm on the planet. There’s also the McCoy Solar Energy Project, in the middle of the Mojave. When it’s done, it will be even bigger and more powerful than Desert Sunlight, covering 7,700 acres of BLM land and 470 acres of private land, and with an electrical production capacity of 750 megawatts.
Then there are the wind farms. These produce less power than their solar brethren and take up much more space. The Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility, for example, covers 12,436 acres at the edge of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, near the border with Mexico, and produces 315 megawatts of power……..
And these new wind and solar farms—cities, call them, since they aren’t like any farm you’ve seen—are only going to multiply in the coming years. The need for clean energy is expected to increase dramatically in the next decade, particularly after the U.S. and China recently announced a historic agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions in their respective countries. At the core of the pact are two sets of commitments: The U.S. will lower emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 from the initial 2005 baselines, while China has agreed to set an emissions peak for 2030 and then commit to lowering emissions……….
It’s cheaper to have a big mass—having power all come from one source,” says Elkin. “But the advantages of having a more distributed rooftop-type solar is that you can provide the power generation really close to being used. It’s more efficient.” He says we are probably headed toward a mix, with “microgrids” providing neighborhoods with access to small, local solar farms.
Until then, though, achieving emissions reductions at the scale of what has been agreed to between the U.S. and China “is not going to happen without some level of large-scale renewable-energy development,” says Helen O’Shea, director of the National Resources Defense Council’s Western Renewable Energy Project.
And Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, says that if conservationists keep fighting that, they will be missing the forest for the trees. “We are facing a mass extinction,” he says. “The only pathway to solve that problem involves a massive increase in renewable energy. Unfortunately, many new renewable-energy facilities have been slowed down or stopped because of their adverse effects on certain species. I think we can no longer have the luxury of doing that.”ttp://www.newsweek.com/renewable-energy-farms-populate-california-286644
Demolition of Uranium Facility, Once the Largest Building in U.S.http://www.rbaker.com/press-room.php?id=215&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
Tue November 25, 2014, When the K-25 uranium enrichment facility was built in the mid-1940s as part of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, it was the world’s largest building under one roof. Seventy years later, demolition of the enormous forty-four acre building was completed after a five-year project.
K-25 was commissioned by the U.S. government during World War II as part of the top-secret race to build the world’s first atomic bomb. Within the walls of the half-mile-long, 2 million square foot U-shaped facility, 12,000 workers produced, via gaseous diffusion, the enriched uranium that was used in atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. Following the war, K-25 remained in operation producing enriched uranium for defense and commercial purposes until it was shut down in 1964. Other buildings at the Oak Ridge facility continued producing uranium until 1987.
Though demolition contractors began taking down the K-25 building in 2008, the complex project was ten years in the making. Due to the hazardous nature of the uranium operation, extensive preparation and remediation were required before demolition could commence. Among numerous Radioactive sludge was removed from a series of underground gunite tanks in 1999, and an onsite waste processing facility was built in 2003 to accept contaminated waste generated during site cleanup. Depleted uranium cylinders were shipped, more than 47,000 tons of metal was removed, several other buildings were demolished, and roads were constructed to accommodate vehicles removing project debris.
Demolition of K-25 was slated to last six years, from 2008 to 2014, but demolition contractors were able to complete the project one year ahead of schedule and approximately $300 million under its original $2.2 billion budget.
Radioactive leak at Pickering nuclear station, Caledon Enterprise, 26 Nov 14
Heavy water contained inside reactor; no impact to public, environment Pickering News Advertiser
PICKERING — Thousands of litres of radioactive heavy water leaked in a reactor at the Pickering nuclear station Friday.
The incident happened in Unit 7, which was undergoing a scheduled maintenance outage, at about 4 p.m. on Nov. 21.
A valve on the moderator system opened inside the reactor building, Ontario Power Generation reported on Twitter….. 6,900 litres of heavy water leaked……http://www.caledonenterprise.com/news-story/5154334-updated-radioactive-leak-at-pickering-nuclear-station/
Northern Quebec Cree start 850 km trek to protest against uranium mining By Caroline Nepton, CBC News Nov 21, 2014 “……this weekend Iserhoff, who is the chair of the Cree Nation Youth Council, will join a group of Crees walking to Montreal to hand deliver a message to the province’s environmental protection agency’s (BAPE) commission on the uranium industry in Quebec.
The group has a message for BAPE: There will be no uranium exploration and exploitation on the Cree territory of Eeyou Istchee.
“We are the stewards of the land, therefore we have this responsibility to protect for the generations to come,” Iserhoff said.
The walkers will be leaving Mistissini this Sunday to travel over 850 kilometers to reach Montreal by Dec. 15, the last day of the BAPE’s public hearings on the uranium industry in Quebec.
They want other nations and other Quebecers to join the walk. “Innu’s are coming, Algonquins are coming and maybe Atikamekw,” Iserhoff said. ‘The Crees are only one voice and so we are seeking allies.’- Matthew Coon Come, grand chief of Cree Grand Council
The trek is one of the many strategies used by the Crees to protest against uranium mining in their territory.
The Cree Nation government firmly opposes all uranium exploration, mining and waste storage in Eeyou Istchee, Cree territory in northern Quebec. A couple of weeks ago the Cree government launched a website and a social campaign: #StandAgainstUranium. They are still asking people to take selfies with the Stand Against Uranium sign.
The government also sponsored The Wolverine: The Fight of the James Bay Cree, which was presented at the Uranium Festival in Germany last September.
“The Crees are only one voice and so we are seeking allies,” saidMatthew Coon Come, the grand chief of the Cree Grand Council.
One of the most advanced uranium projects in the province is the Strateco Resource Matoush project in Otish Mountain, north ofMistissini.
In 2013, Quebec became the third Canadian province, after Nova Scotia and British Columbia, to establish a moratorium on uranium development. In light of that moratorium, Quebec’s environment minister refused to grant Strateco the permits it had requested to go ahead with the project. http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/northern-quebec-cree-start-850-km-trek-to-protest-against-uranium-mining-1.2844050
US Government Injected Citizens with Uranium Under Secret Program: Flashback Files reveal feds posing as doctors experimented on public By Anthony Gucciardi Global Research, November 19, 2014 If you still think the United States government would never harm its own citizens for the benefit of federal agencies, then I would direct your attention to a formerly classified black ops program launched by the US government starting way back in 1945. With the goal of testing highly radioactive substances on overall healthy patients through secret injections administered by government agents, the program has still been widely ignored since being released to the public in recent years.
In the covert program that is now admitted to be true, the United States government injected unknowing human ‘participants’ with highly toxic substances like plutonium. It sounds like a bizarre torture scenario that you’d expect to see blamed on illegal terror organizations, but the individuals behind this crime are actually doctors working for the United States government. Disregarding the health of innocent citizens, the government testers were eager to see how unknowing participants suffered as a result of the injections.
That’s right, they were testing the lethal effects of radioactive isotope injection on citizens. And not that it would make it any more ethical, but they didn’t even choose terminally ill patients who were most likely going to pass away anyway. Instead, they chose patients who sometimes were only suffering from ailments like broken bones.
Injecting Unknowing Patients With Uranium
It began in 1945, when an employee at the Oak Ridge Nuclear Facility was in a car accident. Ebb Cade survived, but was taken in as a human participant in a disturbing study he did not consent to. It is important to note that this man was a fifty-three-year-old African American, as previous government trials have singled out African Americans and other minorities. The racist sterilization programs occurred between 1929 to 1974 under an admitted eugenics programs that officials claimed were ‘creating a better society’. Most victims were poor, black women who were ‘deemed unfit to be parents’. Individuals as young as 10 were sterilized simply for not getting along with schoolmates or being promiscuous, and many parents were misled into sterilizing their children……… http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-government-injected-citizens-with-uranium-under-secret-program-flashback/5414983
Washington state to sue federal government over nuclear site vapors, Yahoo News, By Victoria CavaliereNovember 19, 2014 SEATTLE (Reuters) - Washington state’s attorney general said on Wednesday he intends to sue the U.S. government for not adequately protecting workers involved in the decades-long cleanup of a decommissioned nuclear site, saying dozens have been sickened by toxic vapors.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday the Department of Energy was not doing enough to protect tank workers with dozens reporting illnesses over the past two decades, including 44 over the past 12 months.
“Hanford workers face a very real and immediate health risk,” Ferguson said during a conference call Wednesday. “I want these protections now and I want them for the duration,” he said.
A study released last month by a panel of independent experts found strong evidence of a causal link between chemical vapors and adverse health effects in tank farm workers and also that the system for measuring such vapors was inadequate.
These health effects have ranged from nosebleeds, headaches, dizziness, nausea, burning skin and increased heart rate to reported long-term disabilities, including permanent loss of lung capacity, the report found.
“Despite the 20 years of study and multiple reports, there is no lasting solution and workers continue to get sick,” Ferguson said.
In announcing the intent to file a lawsuit, the Department of Energy has 90 days to respond with a plan of action, he said……..http://news.yahoo.com/washington-state-sue-federal-government-over-nuclear-vapors-224320870.html
$US1.4b settlement after nuclear closurehttps://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/us1-4b-settlement-nuclear-closure-005216557.html 21 Nov 14 Consumers will get refunds and credits of about $US1.4 billion, but also pay about $US3.3 billion, under a settlement involving the premature closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant.
The vote by the California Public Utilities Commission was 5-0.
At issue has been who should take the financial hit for the plant’s demise – company shareholders or customers.
The settlement stems from negotiations among operator Southern California Edison, minority owner San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and consumer advocates. Critics argued that the deal short-changed ratepayers.
The payments will be made over the next decade.
The settlement “is reasonable in light of the whole record, consistent with law and in the public interest,” Commissioner Mike Florio said in a statement on Thursday.
San Onofre shut down for good last year after a long fight over whether it was safe to restart. It had been idle since January 2012, after a small radiation leak led to the discovery of unusual damage to hundreds of tubes inside virtually new steam generators.
A federal investigation after the 2012 leak concluded that a botched computer analysis resulted in generator design flaws that were largely to blame for the unprecedented wear in the tubing that carried radioactive water.
Flooding at St. Lucie nuclear plant prompts more oversight from regulators TCPALM, Will Greenlee, Nov 21, 2014 ST. LUCIE COUNTY — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is stepping up oversight of one of two units at Florida Power & Light Co.’s St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant after about 50,000 gallons of water entered a reactor auxiliary building during heavy rains in January, according to the NRC.
The incident at the nuclear plant on Hutchinson Island occurred Jan. 9, when more than 7 inches of rain fell on the site, a report states. A blocked storm drain system played a role.
“During the event, stormwater entered the reactor auxiliary building … through degraded electrical conduits that were later found not to have internal flood seals,” a report states………50,000 gallons is about the amount held by a 25-by-45-foot swimming pool with an average depth of 6 feet…….http://www.tcpalm.com/news/local-news/st-lucie-county/flooding-at-st-lucie-nuclear-plant-prompts-more-oversight-from-regulators_24283175
Groups says fuel storage poses risk at the Northwest’s lone commercial nuclear plant Oregon Live By Ted Sickinger| firstname.lastname@example.org Email the author | Follow on Twitter November 20, 2014 The growing stockpile of spent nuclear fuel at the Northwest’s lone commercial nuclear plant poses a safety risk to the public in the event of an earthquake, according to a study sponsored by anti-nuclear groups.
The study of spent fuel storage at the Columbia Generating Station is the latest of several commissioned by the Physicians for Social Responsibility and Heart of America Northwest. They collectively suggest that the plant is an expensive and dangerous way for the Northwest to generate electricity, and that it ought to be closed.
The study was authored by nuclear critic Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. Officials at Energy Northwest, the utility consortium that operates the plant, say it is riddled with hyperbole, data errors and fear mongering. They also suggest its backers are extrapolating earthquake risks from recent seismic data that doesn’t apply to the plant site.
The 1,200 megawatt boiling-water reactor is located on the Hanford nuclear reservation near Richland, Wash. It opened in 1984 and has since generated some 368,000 spent fuel rods in 4,588 assemblies.
In the absence of a national repository, about 60 percent of that waste has been transferred to durable, dry-cask storage, a safety measure that Alvarez applauds. But the remaining 40 percent remains in the reactor’s spent fuel pool, a 350,000-gallon tank located at the top of the reactor building, six stories above ground……….http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2014/11/groups_says_fuel_storage_poses.html
“Patented explosives” reported inside plutonium waste drums at US nuclear facility — TV: So volatile, experts comparing it to ‘bomb’ — Official: I’m appalled we weren’t told about real and present danger — Over 5,000 drums a threat — Invisible reactions may have already occurred (VIDEO) http://enenews.com/investigation-patented-explosives-drums-plutonium-waste-nuclear-facility-tv-volatile-experts-calling-potential-bomb-5000-drums-threat-invisible-reactions-occurred-other-containters-video?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Sante Fe New Mexican, Nov. 15, 2014 (emphasis added): The combination [of neutralizer and wheat-based organic litter] turned the waste into a potential bomb that one lab chemist later characterized as akin to plastic explosives, according to a six-month investigation by The New Mexican. [Los Alamos National Lab] then shipped [the waste] to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant… Feb. 14… the drum’s lid cracked open… Temperatures in the underground chamber soared to 1,600 degrees, threatening dozens of nearby drums… Documents and internal emails show… officials downplayed the dangers… and withheld critical information.
- LANL chemist Steve Clemmons [found] the drum’s contents match the makeup of patented plastic, water-gel and slurry explosives… “All of the required components included in the patent claims would be present,” Clemmons wrote… “I am appalled that LANL didn’t provide us this information!” [wrote DOE official Dana Bryson]… On May 27, when they learned of the memo about patented explosives… WIPP abandoned plans for the next day to sample the area where the breach occurred, fearing it was too dangerous. “In a phone call withLANL, they indicated that there is a possibility that any sampling of the kitty litter/drum contents could cause another event,” [wrote] David Freeman, Nuclear Waste Partnership’s chief nuclear engineer… “We have a formal letter on LANL letterhead implying there is a real and present danger in the WIPP underground,” Bryson wrote.
Up to 55 more drums of waste ‘destabilized ‘
- The intense underground flare may have destabilized up to 55 more drums of waste [near the one that ruptured], calling into question whether they, too, had become poised to burst. “[The high heat event] may have dried out some of the unreacted oxidizer-organic mixtures increasing their potential for spontaneous reaction,” the report said. “The dehydration of the fuel-oxidizer mixtures… is recognized as a condition known to increase the potential for reaction.”
Over 5,000 more waste drums a threat
- LANL began treating waste with assorted varieties of organic kitty litter as early as Sept. 2012, spawning thousands of drums of waste that hold the same organic threat… [It] may have been mixed in up to 5,565 containers of waste at LANL.
LANL (pg. 21 of pdf): [The team] evaluated the effect of a heat generating event on the adjacent waste containers [that] could have chemically or physically changed the waste and introduced a reaction hazard. Unreacted drums of nitrate salt waste stream… continue to pose a potential reaction hazard… Reactions may have occurred within some of these drums at levels insufficient to lead to detectable visible evidence.
KOB, Nov. 16, 2014: Nuclear waste so volatile, it’s been called a potential bomb by experts… Greg Mello, former nuclear waste inspector for LANL: “The drum in question was basically kind of a time bomb.”… [A WIPP] assessment… estimates over 5,000 drums of waste may contain the volatile organic kitty litter that caused the one drum to split open.
Obama ‘Would Order’ US Troops Into Combat If ISIS Got Nuclear Weapon, abc news, Nov 17, 2014, By DEVIN DWYER President Obama has been unwavering and definitive in declaring he will not deploy U.S. ground troops into combat to fight ISIS militants. Period.
But for the first time since the start of then anti-ISIS offensive dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve, the president volunteered a scenario which he said would change his mind.
“If we discovered that [ISIS] had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes,” the president told reporters at a news conference in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday. “I would order it.”
There is no indication that ISIS currently possesses or could easily obtain a nuclear weapon, officials say.
Still, Obama’s declaration of a nuclear weapon in the hands of ISIS is a noteworthy new “red line” – and a very high bar for a U.S. offensive role on the ground……..http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/obama-order-us-troops-combat-isis-nuclear-weapon/story?id=26976710
Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chief warns that Commission is not geared for needs of decommissioning
Nuclear Agency Rules Are Ill-Suited for Plant Decommissioning, Leader Says NYT By MATTHEW L. WALDNOV. 17, 2014 WASHINGTON — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s rules are not geared for supervising the decommissioning of nuclear reactors, the task that will occupy much of its time in the coming years, the head of the agency, Allison M. Macfarlane, said Monday.
Speaking at the National Press Club in a wide-ranging look at her agency and the industry before she leaves the job at the end of the year, Dr. Macfarlane said the industry had instead set itself up about 15 years ago to oversee more reactor construction, a revival that did not occur. “The industry was really expecting to expand,” she said. “The agency’s not facing the future that five years ago people envisioned.”
Instead, a plunging price of natural gas and slack demand for electricity have made some existing plants uncompetitive, and the pace of retirements has been high. But the commission’s rules on areas like security and emergency planning are geared to operating plants, she said. So shut-down plants are applying for exemptions to the rules that no longer seem to fit the risk that the reactors pose when decommissioned.
As with nuclear waste, the commission’s rules on reactors seem more focused on construction and operation than on the “back end,” said Dr. Macfarlane, a geologist who is returning to academia.
In her comments, Dr. Macfarlane said that the future of a proposed nuclear waste repository near Las Vegas, blocked for years by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada as majority leader, was still far from assured, despite the coming change of party control in the Senate. The commission’s job would be to rule on whether the repository should be licensed, but it could never approve a license without “a willing applicant,” she said.
That applicant would be the Department of Energy, which dropped work on the project after a campaign promise by Barack Obama when he ran for president the first time.
To resume work on the proposed repository, at Yucca Mountain, the Energy Department and the commission would need a new appropriation, she said. And at the time work was stopped, in 2010, “there were more than 300 contentions challenging the application,” she said. Each must be argued before a panel of administrative law judges.
And even then, she noted, Yucca Mountain would not be big enough for all the waste.
In light of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011 in Japan, Dr. Macfarlane said that the commission should consider new rules on some reactors whose design does not resemble the ones that melted down in Japan. The commission has required older plants of the General Electric design to improve their systems for venting gases in an emergency, but perhaps other models should have to do the same, she said……..http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/18/us/nuclear-agency-rules-are-ill-suited-for-plant-decommissioning-leader-says.html?_r=0
By Cristina Marcos November 17, 2014,The House on Monday passed legislation by voice vote to authorize Department of Energy research on the risks of low-dose ionizing radiation.
Under the measure, H.R. 5544, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science would conduct research on low-dose radiation. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), the bill’s sponsor, said there isn’t enough scientific data regarding exposure to low levels of radiation.
The director of the Energy Department’s Office of Science would be required establish an agreement with the National Academies on a long-term strategy for low-dose radiation research within 60 day’s of the bill’s enactment. Such a study would have to be completed within 18 months.
The measure encountered no opposition during House floor debate.
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