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The Emperor’s New Nuclear Clothes

Washington’s resolute reaction to the shrinking renaissance affirms the brilliance of Hans Christian Anderson’s ending to his fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes”:

“But he has nothing on!” everybody shouted at last. And the emperor shivered, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought within himself, “I must go through with the procession.” And so he carried himself still more proudly, and the chamberlains walked along holding the train which wasn’t there at all.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honey, I Shrunk the Renaissance: Nuclear Revival, Climate Change and Reality, CleanEnergy Footprints, by Peter Bradford, 15 Oct 10, “………Where have all the reactors gone?The 18 applications to build 27 new reactors that were on file at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in January 2009 (with five more applications for seven units expected by the end of 2010) were hailed by a compliant press to constitute “a nuclear renaissance.” The original 27 have dwindled to 20 now. All of the proposals are afflicted with some combination of cost overrun and delay. Most are being pursued at extremely cautious rates of expenditure. In no case has a builder made a firm decision to go forward…….

Congress had inadvertently called the industry’s bluff. Production tax credits were useless in stimulating financing of facilities that had a substantial chance of being cancelled before they produced anything. That risk has to be borne by someone other than sophisticated investors, and so began the search for the proverbial “dumb money,” in this case funding from taxpayers – protected by the Department of Energy – or customers – protected by state utility regulators.

Over the next two years, Congress funded a program of federal loan guarantees for new reactors to the tune of $18.5 billion dollars. In addition, several southeastern states were induced to pass laws assuring that customers would be charged the cost of financing new reactors and would have to pay for them even if they were canceled or experienced substantial cost overruns…..

The renaissance euphoria was ill-founded. The power markets that had come to dominate power supply procurement in much of the U.S. (largely as a result of past nuclear cost disappointments) required investors to take the risk of poor performance. Loan guarantees of $18.5 billion proved to be enough for only two nuclear sites. In the Southeast, willingness of customers to pay higher rates to support a plant that might (or might not) actually come on line many years later was untested.

Much of the press found the “nuclear renaissance” story line too compelling to be derailed by underlying economic reality. For one thing a few environmentalists could be found to attest to the error of their former reservations about nuclear power. The most featured was Patrick Moore. Despite his two decades as a timber and chemical industry spokesman,

Moore’s CV managed to persuade the media to refer to him incorrectly as “a founder of Greenpeace.”[7] Moore and ex-EPA administrator Christine Whitman headed up the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CasEnergy) a Nuclear Energy Institute front group largely staffed by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton. The media proved unable to resist Moore’s story line and rarely described CasEnergy accurately……….

Six coastal states, from South Carolina westward to Louisiana, became the prospective hosts of 16 new reactors, of which 12 were canceled, suspended or greatly delayed within 24 months.

The most dramatic fiasco has unfolded in Florida. In 2008 the Florida Public Service Commission was quick to certify the need for four new reactors in the 2016 time frame. Controversy over the related rate increases has since made a political football of the Florida Commission. Estimated completion of the new reactors has been delayed at least five years and their cost estimates have increased substantially.[8]……..

Washington’s resolute reaction to the shrinking renaissance affirms the brilliance of Hans Christian Anderson’s ending to his fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes”:

“But he has nothing on!” everybody shouted at last. And the emperor shivered, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought within himself, “I must go through with the procession.” And so he carried himself still more proudly, and the chamberlains walked along holding the train which wasn’t there at all.

CleanEnergy Footprints » Archive » Honey, I Shrunk the Renaissance: Nuclear Revival, Climate Change & Reality

October 16, 2010 - Posted by | spinbuster, USA | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] The Emperor’s New Nuclear Clothes […]

    Pingback by The Emperor’s New Nuclear Clothes | Finance Planet | October 17, 2010 | Reply


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