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San Onofre nuclear closure financial – Evidence from a nuclear power plant closure –

On the one hand, these costs do not appear large in comparison to the fixed cost of keeping a nuclear plant open (insurance, employees, and so on). Indeed, this is why some analysts believe the US nuclear industry is at risk.

[…]

Overall, we find that the cost of electricity generation in California increased because of the closure by about $350 million during the first twelve months. This is a large change, equivalent to a 13% increase in total in-state generation costs; yet it went almost completely unnoticed because of a contemporaneous offsetting decrease in natural gas prices.

[…]

As it turns out, these plants were operated through a tolling agreement with JPMorganChase, and they were investigated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for market manipulation between 2010 and 2012 (FERC 2013). While our analysis cannot be used to prove withholding or other market manipulation, it does serve as a useful diagnostic tool for unusual plant behaviour.

[…]

Over this period, we find that the closure of San Onofre increased carbon dioxide emissions by 9 million tons, implying a social cost of almost $320 million per year. A large fraction of the world’s nuclear plants are beginning to reach retirement age, and it is important to take these external costs into account as decisions are made about whether or not to extend the operating lives of these plants.

[…]

Despite the high cost of the San Onofre closure, the decision to shutter the plant appears to have been optimal from the operator’s perspective. The plant’s annual operations and maintenance expenditures were substantial – around $340 million per year.

[…]

http://www.voxeu.org/article/value-electricity-transmission-evidence-power-plant-closure

Lucas W. Davis, Catherine Hausman, 16 June 2014

Just as free trade in goods offers opportunities for efficiency gains, electricity transmission infrastructure facilitates exchange in electricity markets. The first-order effects of geographic integration in electricity markets are straightforward – allocation of production across firms is improved, so lower cost generating resources can be used to meet demand.

In addition, some unusual features of the electricity market make transmission particularly valuable. Storage of electricity, unlike most goods, is prohibitively expensive. As a result, supply must meet demand on a continual basis. Moreover, demand is both price-inelastic and highly variable. As a result, the market typically clears on the supply side, and large price swings are possible whenever supply is inelastic. Geographic integration can smooth this volatility by expanding the number of potential suppliers.

Finally, adequate transmission has important implications for competition in deregulated electricity generation markets. The combination of inelastic demand and lack of storage means these markets are susceptible to the exercise of market power. Because it increases the number of relevant competitors, adequate transmission is necessary for competitive generation markets to function well (Borenstein, Bushnell, and Stoft 2000, Wolak 2012, Ryan 2013).

While the qualitative importance of transmission is well understood, the ability to quantify the benefits is still important for policymakers, because transmission investments are not made in a competitive marketplace. Transmission is a natural monopoly, so it has traditionally been price-regulated; in addition, new investments face a suite of overlapping economic and environmental regulations (CEC 2009). Transmission has also been at the heart of policy discussions on incentivising the expansion of renewable generation (DOE 2009, CAISO 2014).

Quantifying the benefits of transmission is tricky. Ex-ante simulations must rely on simplifying assumptions that can only approximate how generators and system operators behave in real time. Ex-post calculations are difficult because building a credible counterfactual is not always possible; investments in transmission capacity are endogenous responses to changes in market conditions, and they are planned years in advance. Previous studies of transmission constraints in electricity markets have either used stylised theoretical models (Cardell, Hitt, and Hogan 1997, Joskow and Tirole 2000), or Cournot simulations (Borenstein, Bushnell, and Stoft 2000, Ryan 2013).

Calculating the benefits of transmission

In new work, we use a different approach. We take advantage of a natural experiment to calculate ex-post the value of electricity transmission (Davis and Hausman 2014). In 2012, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California was closed unexpectedly because of safety concerns. The plant had been a large resource, generating enough electricity to supply 2.3 million households – about 8% of all electricity generated in the state. Moreover, it was located near two large demand centres (Los Angeles and San Diego) in an area with limited transmission capacity. As a result, its closure caused transmission constraints to bind, substantially increasing the cost of meeting demand.

We use data from the year and a half leading up to the San Onofre closure to construct a supply curve for a hypothetical world in which San Onofre had not closed. We then compare this counterfactual to observed generation outcomes following the closure, calculating the increased cost required to meet demand. Overall, we find that the cost of electricity generation in California increased because of the closure by about $350 million during the first twelve months. This is a large change, equivalent to a 13% increase in total in-state generation costs; yet it went almost completely unnoticed because of a contemporaneous offsetting decrease in natural gas prices.

We further decompose the cost increase into two effects. The first effect is simply the cost of using higher cost natural-gas plants to fill in for the lost nuclear generation. Like other nuclear power plants, San Onofre produced electricity at very low marginal cost. When the plant closed, this generation had to be made up for by operating other, more expensive generating resources. The second effect is the additional cost attributable to transmission constraints. The binding transmission constraints meant that it was not possible to meet all of the lost output from San Onofre using the lowest cost available generating resources. We calculate that the transmission effect totalled around $40 million in the first twelve months following the closure.

With this estimate of $40 million, we find that several transmission projects would have payback periods of less than ten years. Indeed, the California Independent System Operator has been working since 2012 to implement several projects to relieve the congestion caused by the San Onofre closure.

Plant-level impacts

In addition to state-wide estimates of changes in generation, we look at effects at the individual plant level. We document two important outliers: plants that would have been expected to substantially increase their generation following the San Onofre closure, but whose average generation remained essentially unchanged. As it turns out, these plants were operated through a tolling agreement with JPMorganChase, and they were investigated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for market manipulation between 2010 and 2012 (FERC 2013). While our analysis cannot be used to prove withholding or other market manipulation, it does serve as a useful diagnostic tool for unusual plant behaviour.

Environmental implications

In addition to the value of electricity transmission, several other policy implications emerge from our analysis. We document that the closure of San Onofre had important environmental implications, in addition to the generation costs described above. While California currently has a cap and trade program for carbon dioxide emissions, the program was not yet in place in 2012. Over this period, we find that the closure of San Onofre increased carbon dioxide emissions by 9 million tons, implying a social cost of almost $320 million per year. A large fraction of the world’s nuclear plants are beginning to reach retirement age, and it is important to take these external costs into account as decisions are made about whether or not to extend the operating lives of these plants.

Despite the high cost of the San Onofre closure, the decision to shutter the plant appears to have been optimal from the operator’s perspective. The plant’s annual operations and maintenance expenditures were substantial – around $340 million per year. Thus even though San Onofre had a much lower marginal cost than natural gas plants, its profitability was questionable. Indeed, the impact of low natural gas prices on wholesale electricity prices is jeopardising the balance sheets of many US nuclear plants.

Concluding remarks

Having adequate transmission helps electricity markets to run more efficiently and reliably. The closure of the San Onofre plant in California is important in this context – it shows how the unexpected closure of just one resource can have large economic costs. Our research finds that closing the plant increased the cost of generation by $350 million per year, and that $40 million of this is attributable to transmission constraints. Additionally, the closure led to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions worth $320 million annually.

On the one hand, these costs do not appear large in comparison to the fixed cost of keeping a nuclear plant open (insurance, employees, and so on). Indeed, this is why some analysts believe the US nuclear industry is at risk.

On the other hand, the costs could potentially have been much higher. If a particularly hot summer had led to spikes in demand, if natural gas prices had been higher, or if a substantial amount of market power had been exercised, the cost of the San Onofre closure (including the cost of transmission constraints) would have been significantly larger.

June 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

US Labor Dept. Town Hall Meetings For Connecticut Nuclear Workers In Cromwell – Monetry compensation and medical benefits claims

We believe there are many current and former nuclear weapons workers living in southern New England who are eligible for monetary compensation and medical benefits, but who have yet to file a claim. Our goal is to inform these individuals about the program and to assist them with obtaining the compensation and medical benefits to which they are entitled

http://www.courant.com/community/rocky-hill/hcrs-90317-statewide-20140613,0,5522263.story

The U.S. Department of Labor will host a town hall meeting on Thursday, June 19, at the Courtyard by Marriott, 4 Sebethe Drive, Cromwell, to notify current and former nuclear weapons employees who worked at 33 covered facilities in southern New England about the benefits available to them under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.

“We believe there are many current and former nuclear weapons workers living in southern New England who are eligible for monetary compensation and medical benefits, but who have yet to file a claim. Our goal is to inform these individuals about the program and to assist them with obtaining the compensation and medical benefits to which they are entitled. We encourage anyone interested in filing a claim or learning more about the EEOICPA to attend the upcoming town hall meetings or contact our New York Resource Center at 800-941-3943,” said Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Director Rachel P. Leiton.

The program, which is administered by the DEEOIC, part of the department’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, provides lump-sum compensation and medical benefits to eligible U.S. Department of Energy nuclear weapons workers, including employees, former employees, contractors and subcontractors. Survivors of qualified workers may be entitled to benefits. Officials will present an overview of Parts B and E of the EEOICPA and discuss the medical benefits available to approved claimants.
Covered facilities in Connecticut include the following: American Chain and Cable Co., Bridgeport; Anaconda Co., Waterbury; Bridgeport Brass Co., Havens Laboratory, Bridgeport; Combustion Engineering, Windsor; Connecticut Aircraft Nuclear Engine Laboratory, Middletown; Dorr Corp., Stamford; Fenn Machinery Co., Hartford; Machlett Laboratories, Springdale; New England Lime Co., Canaan; Seymour Specialty Wire, Seymour; Sperry Products Inc., Danbury; and Torrington Co., Torrington.

Staff from DEEOIC’s Cleveland District Office and New York Resource Center will be available for extended hours on June 18-19 to assist individuals with filing new claims under the EEOICPA and to provide updates on existing claims. These meetings are open to the public and preregistration is not required.

June 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tritium density in deep underground broke the highest record ever, 4,700,000 Bq/m3

http://fukushima-diary.com/2014/06/tritium-density-in-deep-underground-broke-the-highest-record-ever-4700000-bqm3/

(French translation on link)

Posted by Mochizuki on June 14th, 2014

Following up this article..

Extremely high density of Tritium was detected from groundwater of deep layer.

Tepco has started building the frozen water underground wall. In order to investigate the groundwater contamination outside of the wall, Tepco took sample from 25m underground.

As a result, 3,100,000 Bq/m3 of Tritium was measured from the sample taken near reactor2. The sampling date was 5/28/2014. From Fukushima Diary’s research, this is the highest reading since they started measuring.

They measured Strontium-90 from the same deep layer beside reactor4 last November.

There is a possibility that contaminated water is traveling under the sea bottom of Fukushima port to come up offshore.

(Highest density of Tritium detected from 25m underground / 3,100,000 Bq/m3 [URL])

 

From Tepco’s follow-up report on 6/13/2014, the Tritium density increased again and it reached 4,700,000 Bq/m3 in the same from the same sampling well (Location is on the map above).

Tepco hasn’t made any explanation on this increase in Tritium density. From Fukushima Diary’s research, this is the highest reading since Tepco started measuring groundwater 25m underground. There is a possibility that the frozen water wall is spreading contamination underground.

 

http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2014/images/handouts_140613_12-j.pdf

 

 

June 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Something serious is going on”. Horse ranch owner worries alarming conditions of horses in Iitate, Fukushima

Written by Michitaka Kobayashi

Photes by Osamu Nakamura

March 20,2013

http://www.save-children-from-radiation.org/2013/05/05/something-serious-is-going-on-horse-ranch-owner-worries-alarming-conditions-of-horses-in-iitate-fukushima/

Photo by Osamu Nakamura,

As I climbed the steep stairs to the Yamatsumi shinto shrine from the entrance gateway at the bottom of the mountain, the view over the beautiful Iitate village surrounded by the rich nature appeared in front of me. There was once a rumor, based on a TV program, that Yamatzumi shrine blocked the wave of radiation, shielding the village. I asked about the rumor, but the person living in the shrine laughed my question down saying, “Oh, I have heard about it!”  Maybe the TV clues wanted to create an emotional episode that a shinto shrine protected the village from radiation. 

As soon as we met, Hosokawa started saying, “This country is going mad. There is something seriously wrong going on”. He led us to the ranch after quick exchange of greetings. According to him, horses have fallen ill one by one within these short weeks. Among his 34 horses, four were unable to stand up anymore.

 

One of the four, a white miniature horse, had the worst condition. Its skin was badly damaged. The veterinarian doctor who accompanied us saw it and indicated the symptoms of damaged liver although he did not know the reason. It had jaundiced eyes. The doctor was wondering why its knees were so wobbly. Hosokawa stroked the lying horse, saying, “I think it can’t make it through this month. Poor thing….”

 

A wild boar rushed down beside the ranch, as we were talking. 

 

15 foals have been born since the beginning of this year, but 14 of them died within a month, sometimes within a week.

“I have lived with horses since I was a kid, but I have never seen anything like this. It’s not normal. I think radiation is responsible for this”.

Hosokawa stresses the effect of radiation as a cause. Of course he doesn’t have proper scientific grounds to support his idea, but his long relationship with horses gives him the instinctive feeling. 

The media have reported that many cows had died in the evacuation area, because people who fed them left the village, and the cows didn’t get sufficient nutrition to survive. However, the horses on Hosokawa’s ranch have been getting sufficient feed, if not plenty.The horses without symptoms did not look skinny and seemed to have appetite.

Continue reading

June 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear Hotseat #155: BREAKING: 1st USS Reagan Death + Voices from Japan: Komoro Homestay with Laura & Giichi Inoue

http://www.nuclearhotseat.com/1964/

DOWNLOAD HERE:
http://lhalevy.audioacrobat.com/download/9be8296a-eae1-763b-5077-de36432384a6.mp3

BREAKING – A NUCLEAR HOTSEAT EXCLUSIVE:

First death of a USS Ronald Reagan sailor hit by radiation from Fukushima Daiichi while on the humanitarian aid Operation Tomodachi.  Information just released today by the legal team representing the USS Reagan sailors in their billion dollar lawsuit against TEPCO.

Military honors for the late Theodore A. Holcomb, formerly  of the USS Ronald Reagan and one of the sailors represented in the billion dollar lawsuit against TEPCO.
FEATURED – VOICES FROM JAPAN:

Laura and Giichi Inoue run Komoro Homestay, a program which sponsors Fukushima families with small children to come to the relative safety of the Komoro/Nagano region to alleviate the stress of their daily lives .   They provide educational materials and the chance to speak honestly about their fears and stresses – a rarity in Japan.  To contact Komoro Homestay, go to:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/299490890226766/

For those who wish to share practical radiation-related material with Komoro Homestay, send an email to: LauraJane713@gmail.com

NUMNUTZ OF THE WEEK:

Canadian Nuclear “Safety” Commission has the gall to produce report saying that while the rest of the world’s radioactive materials may cause cancer, their s**t don’t stink and their radiation won’t hurt you… unless… well sometimes… maybe… but not very often… no, really (said Pinnochio as his nose grew longer…).

PLUS:

  • NRC needs to “duck and cover” as Sen. Barbara Boxer demands accountability and Sen. Ed Markey blows the lid off NRC reprisals against employees who stand up for safety;

Sen. Boxer On Fire re: Wild Fire Within 1/2 mile of San Onofre Nuke Plant – a video by Myla Reson

  • Vermont Yankee critics use laugh track on NRC and Entergy spokesmodels;
  • Radioactive groundwater spikes under Indian Point NPP;
  • TEPCO admits it hasn’t a clue what’s happening with the melted core or the water leaks at Fukushima;
  • Japan forgets to report on its hidden stash of 80-bombs-worth of weapons grade plutonium – OOPS!
  • Midwest activists unveil media campaign against new Fermi 3 nuke in Michigan:

June 16, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment