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City in Northern Utah pulls out of NuScam small nuclear reactors project

Northern Utah city opts out of planned nuclear power project over money concerns     Deseret News, Amy Joi O’Donoghue @Amyjoi  16  Aug 24, 2020, 

SALT LAKE CITY — Cost concerns over Logan’s participation in a next-generation nuclear power plant planned at Idaho National Laboratory led the city to withdraw from the project, and Lehi is considering a similar move in its council meeting Tuesday.

“My concerns were many and varied,” Logan Finance Director Richard Anderson said of last week’s decision

…….  changes in funding by the U.S. Department of Energy for the Carbon Free Power Project caused Anderson concern, as it did for Mark Montgomery, the city’s light and power director, and prompted both of them to recommend Logan withdraw its participation.

“We don’t have the experience to be swimming in these waters. I didn’t feel good about it,” Anderson said.  

The city, as a member of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, invested $400,000 and
was due to commit another $654,000 by Sept. 14 or vote to bow out altogether.
……..  The project is backed heavily by the U.S. Department of Energy, which gave NuScale a competitive award of $226 million in 2013 to develop the technology. Two years later, the federal agency gave NuScale $16.7 million for licensing preparation.

Ultimately, the energy department committed to spend $1.4 billion on the project with an eye toward reducing carbon emissions, combating climate change and to position the country as a world leader in nuclear technology.

But critics say the proposed 720-megawatt plant is too risky and ratepayers — hence taxpayers — should not be footing the cost for technology they say is yet to be proven.

LaVarr Webb, spokesman for the municipal power association, said the investment schedule was specifically designed with these exit opportunities if cities or special districts become nervous.

The project, he added, will not proceed if costs prove too high.

The project has also come under criticism for what some say is a lack of transparency.

Earlier this month, the Utah Taxpayers Association urged cities to withdraw ahead of the deadline and complained about meetings in which groups were turned away unless they were project participants.

Rusty Cannon, vice president of Utah Taxpayers Association, said because the municipal power association is exempt from Utah’s open meeting laws, it can close its doors to others.

“We asked to observe a recent meeting and were denied access. That is the same response many others have also received,” Cannon said.

While association leaders have spent hours on video calls with the association and others, Cannon said that format does not provide the same answers.

Webb said meetings in which non-project participants were turned away, with perhaps the exception of one, are in line with why other governmental entities can close meetings under Utah law, such as contractual issues, litigation or personnel issues.

On Tuesday in Lehi, the City Council will consider a resolution outlining the city’s withdrawal from the project…….   https://www.deseret.com/utah/2020/8/24/21399537/northern-utah-city-opts-out-of-planned-nuclear-power-project-over-money-concerns

August 25, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Compromise, compromise: U.S. Democrats almost merging into Republicans

Media Praise Biden’s ‘Centrist Coalition’ for Steering Clear of ‘Progressive Demands’, Fair 24 Aug 20,  “Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.”

That’s the line that an alien imposter who comes to America to run for president on The Simpsons (10/27/96) came up with after realizing any firm position on reproductive rights would draw some opposition, but a lukewarm compromise coupled with a sentimental devotion to the flag would get people cheering. Corporate media seem to be having a reaction similar to the cartoon alien as they opine on the nomination of former Vice President Joe Biden as the Democratic presidential candidate, with Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate.

The Daily Beast (3/18/20) heralded Biden’s liberal “patriotism” as an antidote to “uber-nationalist” Trump and “uber-internationalist” Sen. Bernie Sanders. At the Washington Post (8/21/20), columnist Michael Gerson praised Biden for trying to “build a centrist coalition in favor of political sanity.” Also at the Post (8/16/20), Jennifer Rubin hailed the Biden/Harris ticket’s centrism because it has “deprived Trump of the ‘socialist’ target Republicans yearned to confront”—as though Trump’s attacks were wedded to reality and facts.

The Los Angeles Times (8/12/20) shared that optimism, with political reporter Janet Hook reporting that the Biden/Harris ticket has “a center-left brand that steers clear of the most far-reaching progressive demands,” which “has complicated the Trump White House’s efforts to portray the ticket as ‘dangerous radicals’”:

Harris, like Biden…has rebuffed some demands of the party’s rising progressive wing. That’s a profile that could help Biden appeal to moderate swing voters he needs to win in states like Michigan and Wisconsin.

(As an example of how clear of progressivism the Biden team intends to steer, see Biden’s transition director’s promise of economic austerity if elected, telling the Wall Street Journal—8/19/20—“We’re going to be limited.”)Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos (Twitter, 8/20/20) cheered that the Democrats were “now objectively the party of faith, family values and national defense,” while the Intercept’s Lee Fang (Twitter, 8/20/20) praised “Biden’s plainspoken patriotism” (along with a supposed “embrace of popular social democratic reform”).
Prominent Republicans spoke repeatedly at the Democratic National Convention, signaling that Biden was firmly committed to the political center; some of his GOP backers wrote a piece for Foreign Policy (8/20/20) declaring that “Biden has far more in common with the other Republican presidents we worked for than Trump does.” ……….
At first glance, this is a victory lap for the corporate press and the Democratic establishment against the party’s left flank. For all the work of Sanders and the left-wing “Squad” in Congress, the Overton Window has barely budged at the presidential level. As Newsweek (8/4/20) pointed out, Biden is going against 87% of his  party’s members by opposing Medicare for All. ……….https://fair.org/home/media-praise-bidens-centrist-coalition-for-steering-clear-of-progressive-demands/

August 25, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020 | Leave a comment

Extreme weather – derecho storm brings about early closure of Duane Arnold nuclear plant

Duane Arnold nuclear plant decommissioning early after damage from the derecho 


by Rebecca Kopelman, Tuesday, August 25th 2020   https://cbs2iowa.com/news/local/duane-arnold-nuclear-plant-

Iowa (Iowa’s News Now) — The Duane Arnold Energy Center is beginning their decommissioning process after the August 10th derecho.

The energy center is the only nuclear power plant in Iowa. It was set to be decommissioned at the end of October, but will be closing due to the damage.

This is a statement from NextEra Energy Resources:

“After conducting a complete assessment of the damage caused by recent severe weather, NextEra Energy Resources has made the decision not to restart the reactor at Duane Arnold Energy Center. The strong storms that hit the area on Aug. 10 caused extensive damage to Duane Arnold’s cooling towers, and our evaluation found that replacing those towers before the site’s previously-scheduled decommissioning on Oct. 30, 2020, was not feasible.

As we have done since we announced the decommissioning of Duane Arnold in 2018, we will continue to work with all our employees to minimize the impact of this situation on them and their families.”

The storms damaged the cooling towers which are used to produce electricity to cool steam after it exits the turbine.The cooling towers are not required to cool critical nuclear components. There was also damage to the outside of the building.  None of the damage impacted safety systems or critical components.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Nearly 90% of young people want real action on climate change

Young people send strong climate message, Pro Bono  Maggie Coggan | 24 August  20,

“We see the world in a different light. Politicians need to start listening to us and taking action,” a youth leader says.

Nearly 90 per cent of young people say they feel unprepared for future climate disasters and want politicians to give them a bigger voice on climate change, a new report finds.

Conducted in the wake of the catastrophic summer bushfire season, the new Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience and World Vision Australia research found that despite hazards such as bushfires, floods, drought and tropical cyclones posing a greater threat, young people said they were more likely to learn about earthquakes at school.

This left 88 per cent of survey respondents feeling unprepared and unable to protect themselves and their communities, even though nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) had experienced at least three events such as bushfires, heatwaves and drought in the past three years.

“We anticipate that we will experience personal impacts from natural hazards in the future, whether we are living in capital cities, regional centres, or rural areas,” respondents said.

“The 2020 bushfires demonstrated that you need not live in the bush to be affected by a bushfire. We are experiencing these persistent worries while having to contend with life, school, growing up and everything else that comes with being a young person in Australia.”

It is the most comprehensive consultation of children and young people on climate change, disasters, and disaster-resilience in the country, with 1,500 people participating in the online survey, supported by UNICEF Australia, Plan International, Save the Children, Oaktree and Australian Red Cross.

Young people concerned, but not heard …………  A full copy of the report can be found here.    https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2020/08/young-people-send-strong-climate-message/

August 25, 2020 Posted by | climate change, World | Leave a comment

Frank Barnaby, nuclear weapons scientist and global hero

he gave evidence in Japan against the used of mixed uranium and plutonium oxide fuel, known as MOX, in a reactor at Fukushima. “Frank’s testimony was so impressive and read by the governor of the region that it stopped the loading of MOX fuel for more than 10 years,” said Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace International. In 2011, the reactor was overwhelmed by a devastating tsunami, but because of this intervention Japan was spared the release of many hundreds of tons of fission products – “in other words the evacuation of 50 million plus and the end of central Japan as a functioning society.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia releases previously classified film of “Tsar Bomba” the most powerful nuclear bomb blast E\eve

Russia Releases “Tsar Bomba” Test Footage Of The Most Powerful Nuclear Bomb Blast Ever This previously classified film provides a new and fascinating glimpse into the 50-megaton Cold War nuclear test that occurred nearly six decades ago. The Drive BY THOMAS NEWDICK, AUGUST 24, 2020    The nuclear bomb, codenamed “Ivan,” that was dropped by the Soviet Union over Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean on October 30, 1961, was the largest device of its kind ever detonated. The monstrous weapon had a yield of around 50 megatons — equivalent to 50 million tons of TNT. Until now, the available imagery of that test has been strictly limited, consisting of short, grainy clips and poor-quality stills.


The colossal Ivan device was developed under a program known as izdeliye 202 (meaning “product 202”, otherwise known simply as “V”). Years later, when more details became known about it in the West, the weapon would be dubbed “Tsar Bomba.”
On August 20, 2020, the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation — the Russian state concern responsible for nuclear enterprises, including nuclear weapons — released a 30-minute documentary film on its official YouTube channel showing the test in unprecedented detail, from the initial transport of the device itself to the mushroom cloud that later rose some 6.2 miles over the Arctic archipelago. The release of the film coincides with the 75th anniversary of Russia’s nuclear industry — although a thermonuclear bomb popularly described in the West as a “doomsday weapon” was perhaps an unusual choice for the commemoration. ………..
According to the video, the Tu-95V was 28 miles away from the release point, and the detonation produced a fireball visible 621 miles away, despite cloudy conditions. “The explosion was accompanied by a bright flash of unusual strength,” the narrator explains. Within seconds, a column of dust had risen to a height of around 6 miles. ………

for “dozens of kilometers” in every direction, the earth has been scorched, most of the snow vaporized, and the few structures that existed above the surface have been obliterated.

……….. the largest nuclear device ever detonated by the United States was the one it set off during the Castle Bravo test at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific on March 1, 1954.
………  Ivan’s detonation was destined to be a high watermark in atmospheric nuclear testing. Amid mounting concern about the fallout generated by above-ground tests, the Partial Test Ban Treaty was signed in 1963 by the governments of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Thereafter, all tests were required to be conducted underground.
The Ivan bomb was ultimately too large to be of practical military use — both in terms of delivery and finding targets that warranted its use. However, the Soviet Union remained heavily engaged in developing freefall nuclear bombs alongside missiles and other delivery systems.
………  The release of this Cold War-era documentary is a sobering reminder of the lingering presence of these weapons and their awesome destructive power.
Contact the author: thomas@thedrive.com    https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/35953/russia-releases-tsar-bomba-test-footage-of-the-most-powerful-nuclear-bomb-blast-ever

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Analysing the evidence on effects of ionising radiation on wildlife

Nature 21st Aug 2020, Tim Mousseau et al: We re-analyzed field data concerning potential effects
of ionizing radiation on the abundance of mammals collected in the
Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ) to interpret these findings from current
knowledge of radiological dose–response relationships, here mammal
response in terms of abundance.

In line with recent work at Fukushima, and
exploiting a census conducted in February 2009 in the CEZ, we reconstructed
the radiological dose for 12 species of mammals observed at 161 sites. We
used this new information rather than the measured ambient dose rate (from
0.0146 to 225 µGy h−1) to statistically analyze the variation in
abundance for all observed species as established from tracks in the snow
in previous field studies.

All available knowledge related to relevant
confounding factors was considered in this re-analysis. This more realistic
approach led us to establish a correlation between changes in mammal
abundance with both the time elapsed since the last snowfall and the dose
rate to which they were exposed. This relationship was also observed when
distinguishing prey from predators.

The dose rates resulting from our
re-analysis are in agreement with exposure levels reported in the
literature as likely to induce physiological disorders in mammals that
could explain the decrease in their abundance in the CEZ. Our results
contribute to informing the Weight of Evidence approach to demonstrate
effects on wildlife resulting from its field exposure to ionizing
radiation.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-70699-3?s=09

August 25, 2020 Posted by | environment, radiation, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Dangers in world’s biggest stockpile of nuclear explosives -Sellafield, UK

David Lowry’s Blog 23 August 2020,  Is the biggest nuclear site in Europe containing the world’s biggest stockpile of nuclear explosives at risk of blowing up?
On 13 August, Sellafield’s chief propagandist, Jamie Reed – formerly MP for the Copeland parliamentary seat that contains Sellafield (and before that a press officer for the then nuclear waste disposal company, NIREX, now
defunct) – issued a Panglossian press briefing that he entitled “Cleaning up our nuclear past: faster, safer and sooner”

http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2020/08/danger-threat-of-sellafield-going-bang.html?m=1

August 25, 2020 Posted by | safety | Leave a comment

Ice melting at a surprisingly fast rate underneath Shirase Glacier Tongue in East Antarctica

East Antarctic melting hotspot identified
  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/08/200824092000.htm
        August 24, 2020
Source:
Hokkaido University
Summary:
Ice is melting at a surprisingly fast rate underneath Shirase Glacier Tongue in East Antarctica due to the continuing influx of warm seawater into the Lützow-Holm Bay.

Hokkaido University scientists have identified an atypical hotspot of sub-glacier melting in East Antarctica. Their findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, could further understandings and predictions of sea level rise caused by mass loss of ice sheets from the southernmost continent.

The 58th Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition had a very rare opportunity to conduct ship-based observations near the tip of East Antarctic Shirase Glacier when large areas of heavy sea ice broke up, giving them access to the frozen Lützow-Holm Bay into which the glacier protrudes.

“Our data suggests that the ice directly beneath the Shirase Glacier Tongue is melting at a rate of 7-16 meters per year,” says Assistant Professor Daisuke Hirano of Hokkaido University’s Institute of Low Temperature Science. “This is equal to or perhaps even surpasses the melting rate underneath the Totten Ice Shelf, which was thought to be experiencing the highest melting rate in East Antarctica, at a rate of 10-11 meters per year.”

The Antarctic ice sheet, most of which is in East Antarctica, is Earth’s largest freshwater reservoir. If it all melts, it could lead to a 60-meter rise in global sea levels. Current predictions estimate global sea levels will rise one meter by 2100 and more than 15 meters by 2500. Thus, it is very important for scientists to have a clear understanding of how Antarctic continental ice is melting, and to more accurately predict sea level fluctuations.

Most studies of ocean-ice interaction have been conducted on the ice shelves in West Antarctica. Ice shelves in East Antarctica have received much less attention, because it has been thought that the water cavities underneath most of them are cold, protecting them from melting.

During the research expedition, Daisuke Hirano and collaborators collected data on water temperature, salinity and oxygen levels from 31 points in the area between January and February 2017. They combined this information with data on the area’s currents and wind, ice radar measurements, and computer modelling to understand ocean circulation underneath the Shirase Glacier Tongue at the glacier’s inland base.

The scientists’ data suggests the melting is occurring as a result of deep, warm water flowing inwards towards the base of the Shirase Glacier Tongue. The warm water moves along a deep underwater ocean trough and then flows upwards along the tongue’s base, warming and melting the ice. The warm waters carrying the melted ice then flow outwards, mixing with the glacial meltwater.

The team found this melting occurs year-round, but is affected by easterly, alongshore winds that vary seasonally. When the winds diminish in the summer, the influx of the deep warm water increases, speeding up the melting rate.

“We plan to incorporate this and future data into our computer models, which will help us develop more accurate predictions of sea level fluctuations and climate change,” says Daisuke Hirano.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change, Reference | Leave a comment

The Chinese viewpoint on nuclear deterrence and cyberattacks

August 25, 2020 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

East Suffolk Council dithers over Sizewell C nuclear project, many questions unanswered

Concern over unanswered questions as Sizewell C plans progress East Anglian Daily Times, 24 August 2020 , Richard Cornwell

Community leaders say there are still “many unknowns” over the proposals for a new £20billion nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast – and work is taking place on mitigation and funding packages should it receive the go-ahead.

East Suffolk Council is preparing to submit its views on EDF Energy’s Sizewell C project, currently being considered by the Planning Inspectorate.

On September 3 councillors will discuss a draft report and then on September 21 the final version.

Council leader Steve Gallant says it is essential east Suffolk remains “open for business” during the twin reactor’s decade-long construction, and the council is working with stakeholders, government and EDF to “to get the best possible outcome for East Suffolk”.

He said: “I am clear that if the potential concerns cannot be fully mitigated, we will require fully funded programmes to further compensate any adverse impacts.

“Furthermore, I entirely acknowledge there is a difficult balance to be struck between supporting the national and local economy and the environmental impacts this proposal will have in such a sensitive location and I want to hear from all our councillors about local concerns so that this information can be fed in to the final submission. ……..

Craig Rivett, deputy council leader and lead member for the Sizewell C project, said: “The report contains a detailed early assessment of all the submission material and it is clear that whilst many aspects of the proposal are now clear there are still many unknowns that we want to understand further before finalising our position on all aspects………

As part of the Development Consent Order process, all interested parties must submit their views on the project (Relevant Representations) to the Planning Inspectorate by September 30 so that the Examiners can consider all issues and prepare an Examination of the proposal.

Receipt of Relevant Representations from all parties to the Planning Inspectorate is the start of the process that will continue through a formal Examination period which East Suffolk Council will take part in, before the Planning Inspectorate’s Examining Authority submit a report to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who will make the final decision.  https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/east-suffolk-council-draft-sizewell-c-dco-report-1-6806704

August 25, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Philippines wary of nuclear power: costs to be borne by tax-payer

August 25, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Philippines | Leave a comment

Gas is not transition energy we were promised, new research suggests

Gas is not transition energy we were promised, new research suggests, SMH, By Nick O’Malley, August 24, 2020 — The good news about natural gas is that when it is burnt it creates between 40 and 50 per cent less carbon dioxide than coal would to create the same amount of energy.This is why it has been embraced by some climate activists and governments as a useful energy source to replace coal and oil while renewable energy technologies catch up with global energy demand.

But the good news ends there, and there is a lot more to the story.

Before it is burnt natural gas is mostly made up of methane, and methane is estimated to be about 28 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.

Over a 20-year period – about the time scientists believe we have to try to prevent the worst impacts of global warming – it is up to 80 times more potent at warming the planet than carbon dioxide.

The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency estimates that for every cubic metre of methane extracted by the US oil and gas industry, 1.4 per cent escapes into the atmosphere as so-called fugitive emissions.

But more recent research suggests this estimate is drastically low, and that, in fact, the industry in the US is leaking 13 million metric tonnes of methane a year, or 2.3 per cent.

It is not yet clear how much fugitive methane is released by the Australian gas industry, but new technologies now allow scientists to accurately measure it and the data is expected to be published in the coming months.

The US Environmental Defence Fund estimated that, in America, if just 3 per cent of methane escapes, gas is no cleaner an energy source than coal……. https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/gas-is-not-transition-energy-we-were-promised-new-research-suggests-20200824-p55ovg.html

August 25, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Scientists conduct first in situ radiation measurements 21 km in the air over Tibetan Plateau

Scientists conduct first in situ radiation measurements 21 km in the air over Tibetan Plateau  https://phys.org/news/2020-08-scientists-situ-km-air-tibetan.html  by Li Yuan, Chinese Academy of Sciences,  24 Aug, 20, Radiation variations over the Tibetan Plateau (TP) are crucial for global climate and regional ecological environment. Previous radiation studies over the TP were widely based on ground and satellite measurements of the radiation budget at the surface and at the top of the atmosphere.

In situ vertical radiation measurements from the surface up to the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (UTLS), about 10 to 22 km in altitude, are rare over the TP or even over a large territory of China.

Dr. Zhang Jinqiang from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), in collaboration with scientists from the Aerospace Information Research Institute of CAS, developed a balloon-based measurement system to measure stratospheric radiation

This original system, for the first time, provides in situ measurements of multiwavelength radiation profiles from the surface up to the UTLS over the TP. Using this system, scientists can study how and why radiation profiles vary over the TP during the Asian summer monsoon period.

The observation campaigns were conducted three times in the summer of 2018 and 2019, of which the longest flight observation lasted more than 30 hours and achieved a breakthrough of diurnal radiation variation in the UTLS.

According to the team, the stratospheric balloon-based radiation profiles, combined with simultaneous operational radiosondes, ground measurements, satellite retrievals and radiative transfer model simulations, are valuable because the data can be used to study radiation variations and the radiative forcings of clouds and aerosols over the TP during the Asian summer monsoon period. The radiation retrievals from the radiative transfer model simulations and satellite observations are also validated.

“The results of these campaigns can improve our understanding of radiation properties in the UTLS and help us better comprehend the thermal conditions associated with clouds and aerosols over the TP during the Asian summer monsoon period,” said Zhang.

Their findings were published in Environmental Research LettersJournal of Environmental Sciences and Atmospheric Pollution Research.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | climate change, India | Leave a comment

Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) tried to become part-owner of Plant Vogtle in 2019

   Lawsuit settlement document shows JEA tried to become part-owner of Plant Vogtle in 2019  https://www.jacksonville.com/story/news/local/2020/08/24/jea-prepared-1-9-billion-offer-plant-vogtle-nuclear-plant-2019/3402832001/  

David Bauerlein,  Florida Times-UnioBefore JEA lost a lawsuit in June that tried to void its contract for purchasing electricity from Plant Vogtle, the utility wanted to settle the suit in 2019 by buying an ownership stake in the Georgia nuclear plant for $1.9 billion, according to a draft document that outlined terms of the utility’s strategy for settlement talks.

The controversial power purchase agreement, which dates back to 2008, weighs heavily on JEA because the contract binds JEA to buy electricity for 20 years at a high cost from two Vogtle nuclear reactors slated to go online in late 2021 and late 2022.

The agreement also was a thorny issue for JEA when it sought offers last year from private companies for a potential sale of the city-owned utility. Converting the power purchase agreement into an ownership interest in Plant Vogtle would have made JEA a more marketable asset.

The settlement talks in April 2019 occurred during the tenure of Aaron Zahn, who was CEO when the JEA board voted in July 2019 to put the utility up for sale. Since then, Zahn along with the rest of the senior leadership team and the board have been replaced.

JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce said the turnover means current JEA employees cannot say what the rationale was for any settlement offers in April 2019.

“Anything we could say would be speculation since no one currently at JEA was part of that meeting or proposed settlement,” Boyce said.

When JEA first evaluated privatization in early 2018 — prior to Zahn becoming CEO — an attorney for Holland and Knight sent an email to JEA outlining possible strategies for how JEA could get out of the purchase power agreement.

“Obviously, Plant Vogtle and and the purchase agreement (PPA) greatly affect valuation,” Holland & Knight attorney  Allen Maines wrote in the Feb. 4, 2018, email.

Maines wrote that “one underlying assumption to privatization is that prospective purchasers will not be interested unless JEA sheds itself of the PPA.”

Maines wrote one way to get rid of the agreement would be to pay the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, also known as MEAG, to “take back the PPA.”

When JEA and MEAG entered into settlement talks in April 2019, Holland & Knight drafted proposed terms of a settlement in which JEA would pay $1.9 billion to MEAG in order to get JEA released from the power purchase agreement.

In turn, JEA would become part-owner of the Plant Vogtle plant by having a stake equal to 150 megawatts of the two reactors being built. That would be less than the 206 megawatts of electricity in the power purchase agreement.

WJXT-TV reported in April 2019 that JEA and MEAG met in Atlanta for settlement talks. WJXT reported at that time JEA was negotiating to get out of the nuclear power contract.

The station disclosed the talks after a JEA administrative aide mistakenly sent an email to WJXT reporter Jim Piggott that had the draft settlement terms attached to it.

The ownership stake would have given JEA more direct influence over decisions on Plant Vogtle, whose construction is years behind schedule with a cost that has doubled since JEA entered the power purchase agreement in 2008.

The proposed terms also would have enhanced the marketability of the utility in a sale to a private company.

If a private company purchased JEA, the rates charged to customers would have been regulated by the Florida Public Service Commission.

In the commission’s rate-setting structure, an investor-owned utility does not earn a profit from a purchase-power agreement, said Florida Public Counsel J.R. Kelly of the Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in rate-setting cases before the Public Service Commission.

A private utility’s cost from a purchase-power agreement is regulated as a break-even expense, meaning it doesn’t lose money or earn a profit from such agreements, Kelly said. The utility just passes the cost through to customers in the overall rate structure.

But if a private utility has ownership of a plant, it can get a profit from owning an asset and have that profit built into the rate structure approved by the state

Kelly said.

“They have a right to a return of and a return on that asset,” Kelly said. “That’s how they make a profit. That’s how utilities earn money.”

The draft settlement terms from April 2019 for Plant Vogtle proposed that after JEA paid $1.9 billion to end the power purchase agreement and become a part-owner of the nuclear plant, JEA no longer would pay any additional money to cover future cost over-runs for the plant’s construction.

The settlement talks failed to reach any agreement with MEAG. When JEA entered into negotiations last year for the potential sale of the utility, JEA proposed to separate the Plant Vogtle purchase power agreement from the sale by having JEA remains as a shell entity that would remain a party to the agreement.

The cost of the power purchase agreement then would have been passed along to customers on their bills. That arrangement would have been a hard sell to City Council members who would have had to agree to the terms of any sale.

U.S. District Judge Mark Cohen ruled June 17 in MEAG’s favor by finding the power purchase agreement is valid and enforceable. JEA and MEAG then agreed to end the lawsuit.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment