A new push for nuclear power

Steam billows from the cooling towers at Exelon's nuclear power generating station in Byron, Ill.


Bob Moon: Until the price of oil cools way down, though, people are going to be talking about something that was written off in the 80's: Nuclear power.

Today, Congress is revisiting how nuclear plants get approved.

Marketplace's Janet Babin reports from North Carolina Pubic Radio.

Janet Babin: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has had a bit of a dry spell: No new power plant applications from 1978 'til last year. Since then, the NRC's received nine applications and expects another nine this year.

One of the proposals is from Exelon Energy, one of the nation's largest utility companies. It plans to use nuclear power to cut its carbon dioxide emissions.

Exelon's Shelley Keller says this nuclear renaissance is fueled by climate change and by necessity.

Shelley Keller: This country went through a long period where we had too much generating capacity. Now we need to, in fact, be in another build cycle and the nuclear comes back into that equation.

The NRC has tacked on an additional 600 staffers over the past three years to deal with the new applications, but getting approval for a new plant can still take at least three years.

Watchdog groups complain that the NRC only skims the surface of applications.

I'm Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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Want to know the real story behind why Indiana doesn�t have nuclear power plants? How soon people forget! Yes, State Law prohibits nuclear power plants, but remember why? 1st Hint: The legislature passed the bill in 1979. No, it didn�t have anything to do with 3 mile island. 2nd Hint: Review the Tell City News� I was 17 and working as a student report. I went to do a simple story on the new nuclear plant that was almost built. When I arrived, the receptionist � who knew in advance I was coming � seem upset that someone from the newspaper was there. She asked me to wait, laid down the file that was in her hand, and went to get her boss� I was 17, so waiting, I looked at the file on her desk. Was I wrong? Maybe, but the file revealed that the concrete construction of the whole plant was sub-par. Worse, there were names and dollar amounts as to how to (cover-up) keep the problem from State Inspectors. I took the file and drove back to the News Office. The story was front page news. Long story short, the state�s investigation concluded that the plant was not only unsafe, but could not be made safe. Furthermore, the board investigating the problems determined that no Inspector could have ever caught the problem! Hence, the legislator passed the law against Nuclear Power! How soon we forget!

Nuclear power cannot compete in the market place, as evidenced by the lack of license applications in the past 25 years or so. It is only is the last few years, as subsidies have ramped up, that there are applications being submitted.

The main claim to fame of nuclear plants is their low CO2 emissions. However, if the taxpayer money expected to be given to the nuclear industry for each power plant was instead used for energy efficiency, you would negate the need for that power plant. While at the same time you would be saving people money and reducing CO2. You would also be reducing demand for the large amounts of concrete, steel and special metals needed to make a nuclear power plant, which lowers inflation. A win-win-win-.... proposition any day.

The nuclear power salesman may be knocking on our door, but that doesn't mean we have to let him in.

Non-hydro renewables currently account for 2.4% US electrical generation. Of the non-emitting sources of electricity (nuclear, hydro, renewables) wind makes up 1.6% of that, and solar makes up 0.05% of that. So even if you grow wind and solar at a tremendous rate, it will be long before it puts a dent in emissions. Especailly as domestic demand for energy by population growth alone is expected to grow by a whopping 40-50% by 2030. (all statistics from US Dept of Energy). By the way, in the same amount of time, GLOBAL demand for energy is expected to DOUBLE.

This is simple mathematics, and unfortuntely some people are denial about the solution to reduce CO2 output in this country and the world.

Elexon Energy???? Perhaps you mean Exelon Energy.

July 16th on my way to work I listened as a MIT Professor of Economics Bob ? explained that Nuclear Power was the only thing to work, after all, most people will not tolerate the horrible obstructions to their views with wind power wind mills. I find this incredible - and personally wouldn't mind a graceful "fan" in my view that produces electrical energy and not pay out thousands to my oil man to heat my home - what in the world is this man (and other's like him) thinking?

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