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Ohio’s Republican Ohio Attorney General David Yost Considers Blocking Nuclear Power Plant Bailout

Ohio AG Considers Blocking Nuclear Power Plant Bailout,, By OHIO PUBLIC RADIO 28 Aug 20, Republican Ohio Attorney General David Yost says he’s considering taking legal action to stall the billion dollar nuclear power plant bailout law.The subsidies are at the center of one of the largest alleged bribery scandals in Ohio history. Ohio Public Radio’s Andy Chow reports.

An injunction could halt increased charges on nearly every Ohioan’s electric bills if the legislature fails to repeal House Bill 6.

The announcement from Yost is the latest action from leaders, advocates, and interest groups fighting to repeal HB6, which is said to be the catalyst for a 60 million dollar racketeering scheme.

Michael Hartley with the Coalition to Restore Public Trust says legislators must toss out the law.

“Every single word of it is corrupt, and every single word of it is tainted.”

Federal investigators say a utility believed to be FirstEnergy and its subsidiaries funneled millions of dollars to Republican former House Speaker Larry Householder in exchange for the bailout.


August 29, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Exelon demanding Illinois state subsidies for 2 nuclear power stations

Exelon Threatens to Close 2 Nuclear Plants as Battle Over State Subsidies Looms
Illinois governor nixes the utility’s preferred legislative fix, leaving the future of its ZECs in doubt.
Greentech Media JEFF ST. JOHN AUGUST 28, 2020 Exelon is following through with a threat to close two of its Illinois nuclear power plants by next year unless it receives state support to boost their financial viability……..

with a bribery scandal involving Exelon subsidiary Commonwealth Edison eroding its political clout in the state, and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker saying he won’t support the utility’s preferred plan to boost its nuclear plant revenue, it’s unclear whether Exelon will get what it says it needs to keep the plants open.

Exelon subsidiary Exelon Generation’s announcement that it plans to close its Byron and Dresden power plants in 2021, decades ahead of schedule, cited long-standing economic pressures on a fleet that supplies the vast majority of the state’s carbon-free generation.

The utility also warned that it may seek early retirement of its Braidwood and LaSalle power plants……

Hurdles for Exelon at the state and federal levels

Last week, Pritzker’s office released a clean energy plan laying out the governor’s preferred path forward for stalled energy legislation, a plan which excludes most of Exelon’s preferred policies to support its nuclear fleet. ……….
Exelon CEO Chris Crane warned earlier this month that the utility, which owns the country’s largest nuclear generating fleet and operates utilities in Illinois, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C., faced diminishing prospects for keeping its struggling Illinois nuclear fleet running in the face of continued financial losses.
The plan from the governor also moves away from Exelon’s preferred method of creating a Fixed Resource Requirement structure to allow its nuclear power plants to exit the wholesale capacity markets of mid-Atlantic grid operator PJM. Exelon’s nuclear fleet is expected to be unable to compete in PJM’s capacity market under new rules it’s been ordered to create by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Those rules will force state-subsidized resources to use administratively fixed minimum prices when bidding to compete against other resources in the market.

Exelon worked with legislators and environmental groups to include a version of the Fixed Resource Requirement in the Clean Energy Jobs Act legislation introduced last year. However, the bill stalled in 2019 after the federal bribery investigation involving ComEd was announced. CEJA and a rival clean energy bill, dubbed Path to 100, were also unable to advance during this year’s legislative session, which was constrained by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ComEd’s decision in July to pay a $200 million fine and submit to a deferred prosecution agreement in connection to the federal investigation alleging the utility steered jobs, contracts and payments to House Speaker Michael Madigan in exchange for favorable treatment in state legislation has made for a toxic environment in the state capitol.
Pritzker suspended the Energy Working Group involved in crafting state energy legislation after ComEd’s deferred prosecution agreement last month. The energy plan released this week makes it clear that Pritzker views the Fixed Resource Requirement plan as “a sizable windfall for Exelon’s existing nuclear fleet in Illinois” and less appealing than a plan based on a carbon price, stated Rob Rains, an analyst with Washington Analysis, in a research note released this week. ………

August 29, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Ohio’s laws hamper renewable energy, even if the pro nuclear HB6 law is repealed

HB 6 Repeal Would Address Only Part Of Lawmakers’ Actions To Slow Renewables, Cincinnati Public Radio, By KATHIANN M. KOWALSKI & EYE ON OHIO • JUL 24, 2020  Both Republican and Democratic Ohio lawmakers are pushing to repeal the state’s nuclear bailout bill after this week’s release of a federal criminal complaint against House Speaker Larry Householder and others. Clean energy advocates say that would be a start, but more is needed to address eight years of lawmakers’ actions to slow the growth of renewables in the state.

The complaint alleges a $60 million bribery and conspiracy scheme that led to the passage of House Bill 6 last summer, followed by the defeat of a referendum effort to give voters a say on the bill. Amounts involved are about 20 times more than amounts that could be tracked through public documents.

HB 6 is primarily known as a “nuclear bailout” for providing six years of subsidies for the FirstEnergy Solutions/Energy Harbor nuclear power plants in Ohio totaling roughly a billion dollars, but it also gutted the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, and provided bailouts for two 1950s-era coal plants in Ohio and Indiana.

And while Gov. Mike DeWine has recently shifted his position from defending HB 6 to saying he wants to “repeal and replace” it, legislators from both parties say the whole thing should be thrown out. DeWine has said his office had no involvement in the alleged scheme. Yet he signed the law within hours after Householder secured its passage last summer.

Whether due to actual or perceived corruption, HB 6 “is a corrupt piece of legislation. All of it — not just part of it,” said Rep. Mike Skindell, D-Lakewood. “Therefore, the entire thing needs to be repealed. … That is one step in restoring the confidence of the citizens which was broken because of this corrupt process.”

“Those of us who are free-market conservatives are against the bill. Those of us who care about consumers and predatory pricing are against the bill. And it’s why those of us who want more renewable energy, not less, are against the bill,” said Rep. Laura Lanese, R-Grove City.

“Ohioans deserve an immediate and full

repeal of House Bill 6 in order to restore the public’s trust in the legislative process, and also to get Ohio’s clean energy future restarted,” said Miranda Leppla, vice president of energy policy for the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund. “There is simply no room to consider anything less than a full repeal of this bill, as it is corrupt to the very core. Ohio lawmakers should consider what policies are best for Ohioans, without the corrupt influence of pay-to-play politicians and lobbyists working to influence their decisions.”

“I think this fiasco of HB 6 is just symbolic of the pay-to-play culture that has been in operation for a decade or more,” said Steve Melink, founder and CEO of Melink Corporation in Cincinnati. An analysis of lawful, reported campaign contributions from the utility, nuclear and coal industries in Ohio shows substantial increases in election years after a competitive generation market finally began developing in the state.

Efforts to give preferences to FirstEnergy and utility and fossil fuel interests didn’t start with HB 6. Bailout proposals have been on the table since at least 2014. And efforts to limit or repeal Ohio’s clean energy standards have been underway since at least 2012. A 2014 law imposed a two-year “freeze,” and then former Gov. John Kasich vetoed another bill to erode the standards. Other bills for nuclear and fossil subsidies and for weakening the standards were proposed in 2017 and 2018. And then Householder was elected.

HB 6 “was much more than a bailout for uneconomic nuclear and coal plants. It was an attack on renewable energy and energy efficiency that FirstEnergy, and its allies in the legislature, had been pushing for years,” said J.R. Tolbert, managing director for Advanced Energy Economy’s national business group. 

What More Is Needed?

“Ohio has some fundamental changes that need to be made to get back on track in our fight against climate change,” Leppla said. “These include fixing our wind setbacks, prioritizing efficiency as a money- and energy-saving resource, and fixing our power siting board process to ensure renewables have an even playing field.”

Removing a 2014 provision that tripled property line setbacks for wind turbines “is the very first change that has to happen” after a full repeal of HB 6, said Sandy Buchanan, executive director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

“When the rules changed, it essentially froze the number of wind projects,” said IEEFA data analyst Seth Feaster. That caused communities to miss out on revenues, more financial stability, better credit ratings and indirect job benefits, he and Buchanan noted. Meanwhile, a lot of wind projects moved to other states that were more welcoming.

The constant push to limit or repeal the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standards has also hurt, Melink noted. The portfolio standards act as incentives to attract and develop clean energy and other businesses that want renewable energy by setting enforceable targets, which the market then moves to meet, he said……….

August 29, 2020 Posted by | politics, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Expansion of nuclear power in the troubled Middle East – not a good idea

Will the UAE’s Barakah project launch new era of peaceful nuclear power in the Middle East?  Al-Monitor

Ali Ahmad @Ali_Ahmad_Not   28 Aug 20, “……. Despite the UAE’s commitment and thorough planning, arguably supported by the best experts and consultants, Barakah’s first unit took more than eight years in construction and testing. It is, therefore, safe to assume that other countries in the region will need at least that much time to bring their own projects to completion. Considering such a long time frame, and the emerging energy revolution in the region that is powered by cheap renewables and natural gas, it would be very hard to sell a nuclear project anywhere in the region based on economic rationales………….

efforts to sell the nuclear narrative to the public have been either weak or nonexistent in other countries in the region, where the social contract itself appears to be weaker. In Jordan, Turkey and, to some extent, in Egypt, the public has been vocal in its criticisms of proposed nuclear projects, pointing to a seemingly broader issue of lack of trust in the government.

Of course, financing was never an issue for the UAE. One of the most daunting challenges for Middle Eastern countries — or indeed any country — with nuclear aspirations has been the substantial financing needed for nuclear power projects. In contrast to the UAE, an oil-rich country with readily available financial resources and a high credit rating of AA2, based on latest data by Moody’s, many other countries in the region are struggling with strained economies and mounting public debt.

The coronavirus pandemic further weakened regional economies, including oil-rich states such as Saudi Arabia, which also suffered from the collapse of oil prices. Meanwhile, the majority of the UAE’s nuclear investments were made well before the pandemic as the project started in 2012……

…..the expansion of nuclear power in the Middle East introduces more challenges than opportunities in a region swept by conflicts, fragility and economic hardship.

August 29, 2020 Posted by | safety, United Arab Emirates | Leave a comment

Army dismantling long dead nuclear power plant at Fort Belvoir

Army dismantling deactivated nuclear power plant at Fort Belvoir, INSIDE NOVA, Aug 28, 2020 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $67.98 million contract to APTIM AECOM Decommissioning LLC of Alexandria for the dismantling and disposal of the deactivated nuclear power plant at Fort Belvoir.   The plant was the Army’s first nuclear reactor and first facility in America to provide nuclear-generated power for a sustained period to the commercial grid………
From 1957 until it was shut down in 1973, nuclear technicians from all branches of the military trained at the SM-1 facility. SM-1 was partially decommissioned from 1973 into 1974, which consisted of the removal of the majority of the site’s radioactivity. This included the removal of nuclear fuel and control rods, minor decontamination, shipment of radioactive waste, sealing of the reactor pressure vessel, and installing appropriate warning signs and monitoring devices. ……
Crews are expected to begin mobilizing in early 2021, and the work is anticipated to take approximately five years to complete.

August 29, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Illinois governor’s energy plan shakes up debate over nuclear and renewables

Illinois governor’s energy plan shakes up debate over nuclear and renewables, Energy News, Kari Lydersen, August 27, 2020  ” ………..Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker  ‘s  Aug. 20 announcement came in the wake of revelations about alleged widespread bribery and corruption by utility ComEd, and the first point of Pritzker’s eight-point plan demands ethics reform and strengthening utility company transparency. The governor’s plan would likely take a proposal for a state-run capacity market off the table. That concept, part of the Clean Energy Jobs Act and backed by both the Clean Jobs Coalition and ComEd’s parent company Exelon, would prioritize  zero emissions sources in capacity, essentially creating new subsidies for nuclear plants while limiting payments to fossil fuel plants. Theoretically renewables could also benefit from capacity payments, but renewable company leaders said the proposal as drafted would not help them.
The coalition says that a fixed resource requirement, or FRR, that changes how capacity is procured in northern Illinois is key to funding increased residential and community solar and clean energy equity programs, since — they say — it would mean savings on unnecessary capacity payments that could be funneled into the state’s incentive program for solar. …….

Critics say the fixed resource requirement as drafted would not really save money, and that Exelon’s nuclear plants don’t really need more support in order to keep operating. And solar and wind companies say the proposed requirement would not help them, in part because it would only apply to PJM territory in northern Illinois, not the MISO market downstate. While renewables could technically participate in a state-run capacity market, just as they can in PJM’s capacity market, they say the proposed terms are unworkable.  …..

Freedom from influence?

While the corruption scandal seemingly chills the political power that ComEd and Exelon might have had to help pass clean energy legislation, some clean energy advocates described it as a refreshing chance to push legislation without major corporate backing. ………

“It’s always been a reluctant partnership to get this work done. … We’ve been told whenever we need to pass an energy bill that the only route to passage was working with utilities and certain energy companies,” said Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, a Clean Jobs Coalition member. “That was the reality we had to work under, but there was never any group that relished or wanted to do so. [Now] we are excited about getting the chance to pass a bill that’s not written by utilities, that has the best policy for consumers and equity.”

Walling added that “political corruption has plagued the energy sector for decades in Illinois.”………

August 29, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Householder and HB 6: A Nuclear ‘Environmental Nightmare’ Fueled By ‘Corruption’,

Householder & HB 6: An ‘Environmental Nightmare’ Fueled By ‘Corruption’, Cincinnati Public Radio , By MICHAEL MONKS • JUL 28, 2020  The arrest of Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and others charged in an alleged $60 million bribery scheme has led to calls for the Republican lawmaker’s resignation and a repeal of the legislation at the center of it all.

Titled House Bill 6 when it was adopted, the bill was described as a bailout for the operator of power plants.

State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) is among the many lawmakers now calling for a repeal of the bill, which he had criticized after its 2019 passage as “an environmental nightmare,” according to reports at the time.

State Rep. Leland joins Cincinnati Edition to talk about his position and feelings on the matter.

Meanwhile, author and educator Leah Stokes, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, penned an article for Vox that called House Bill 6 and the current legal controversy “an abysmal energy law … fueled by corruption.”

Leah Stokes joins Cincinnati Edition, too.

Cincinnati Edition reached out to FirstEnergy Corp. to invite CEO Charles Jones on our program. He was unable to participate but FirstEnergy Corp released to us a transcript of an earnings call from Friday during which CEO Charles Jones comments about the Department of Justice investigation. You can read that full statement below.

Statement From Charles Jones by WVXU News on Scribd   ……..

August 29, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Evacuation orders for Fukushima radioactive areas to be lifted without decontamination

Evacuation orders for Fukushima radioactive areas to be lifted without decontamination, August 27, 2020 (Mainichi Japan)  TOKYO — The Japanese government is set to allow the lifting of evacuation orders for highly radioactive areas near the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station without decontamination work on condition that residents will not resettle there.

The government on Aug. 26 disclosed the policy to the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for the so-called “difficult-to-return” zones where residents have remained evacuated since the onset of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 due to high radiation doses in those areas in northeastern Japan. The NRA gave its consent to the government policy, paving the way for residents to enter areas outside the specified disaster reconstruction and revitalization base zones.

The government has heretofore made it a condition for lifting the evacuation orders that: the radiation exposure doses will not exceed 20 millisieverts per year; infrastructure necessary for daily lives is developed and sufficient decontamination work is performed; and consultations are held with local bodies and residents. The government previously designated parts of the difficult-to-return zones as disaster recovery bases, which mainly lie in areas where local residents lived, and planned to lift the evacuation orders by 2023 after decontamination work and infrastructure development.

Meanwhile, upon receiving a request from the village of Iitate in Fukushima Prefecture, the government has also been examining under which situations the evacuation directives can be lifted in areas outside the disaster recovery base areas……….. (Japanese original by Hisashi Tsukamoto and Yuka Saito, Science & Environment News Department)

August 29, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Safety of Belarus nuclear power station in question after IAEA report

Deficiencies discovered during IAEA INIR mission in Belarus may cause negative impact on safety of Belarusian NPP, Vates, 08/27/2020 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) Phase 3 mission from 24 February to 4 March 2020 in the Republic of Belarus and recently published the report with 7 recommendations and 6 suggestions.

The mission evaluated the development status in the areas linked to Belarus nuclear infrastructure such as regulatory framework, nuclear safety, radioactive waste management, financial and human resources, nuclear security in order to commission and operate the first nuclear power plant (hereinafter – NPP).

The report emphasizes, that Belarus needs to further develop its legal and regulatory framework of nuclear energy, to assure regulatory body independence in cooperation with technical support organizations, to ensure sufficient funds for decommissioning and radioactive waste management, to allocate responsibility for establishing the radioactive waste management organization, to ensure reliable restart of the grid system in the event of total collapse once the NPP is in operation, to finalize all necessary programmes for starting operation, to ensure long term arrangements for maintenance of Belarusian NPP and to ensure capacity and competence of operating organisation.

Recommendations and suggestions concerning improvement of nuclear energy infrastructure are related to:
–    deficiencies in legal and regulatory framework of nuclear safety;
–    assurance of independence of regulatory body;
–    deficiencies in implementing Integrated Management Systems of  regulatory body and operating organization;
–    ensuring readiness to restart of the grid system in the event of total collapse once the NPP is in operation;
–    assurance of Belarussian  NPP maintenance after the warranty period;
–    deficiencies in the readiness of the physical security system in the operating organization;
–    deficiencies in establishing responsibilities in the area of the radioactive waste management;
–    international obligations (Belarus has not yet joined the Amendment to the Convention of Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and not ratified Protocol Additional  to IAEA for the Application of Safeguards).

In VATESI experts’ opinion, not implementation of recommendations and suggestions, indicated in the report, may cause negative impact on safety of the Belarusian NPP during its commissioning and consequent operation……[news]=882&tx_news_pi1[controller]=News&tx_news_pi1[action]=detail&cHash=e3cdcce90fb55e6650c0eb887e2cce12

August 29, 2020 Posted by | Belarus, safety | Leave a comment