Nuclear power, Texas style

Lisa Napoli Apr 10, 2007
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Nuclear power, Texas style

Lisa Napoli Apr 10, 2007
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KAI RYSSDAL: There’s energy news out of Texas this afternoon The utility TXU agreed to a $32 billion private equity buyout back in February. And it agreed to steer away from a widely-used but heavily polluting energy source: coal.

Today, the company said it’s keeping its promise and then some In fact, TXU’s scrapping its plans for coal-fired facilities and now wants to build some of the biggest nuclear power plants the United States has ever seen. Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli reports on an industry that’s been out of favor for a very long time.


LISA NAPOLI: If you’re in the energy business these days, there are a couple things you not just want, but need: production plants that are always on, but are cost-effective to keep running. And energy sources that don’t incur the wrath of environmentalists — much less the government, who many believe might soon cap carbon emissions or tax them.

That’s why you’re seeing all these pledges to wean off coal and go nuclear.

JONE-LIN WANG: It is a question of what else do you do.

That’s Jone-Lin Wang of Cambridge Energy Resources. She says the thing is, since no one’s built any nuclear reactors lately, there are a lot of question marks about them.

WANG: There’s substantial uncertainty on how much it actually will eventually cost to build these plants. But based on some estimates, it’s attractive enough for a lot of companies to try.

Opponents of nuclear power say one big reason nuclear is attractive is the $13 billion in government subsidies that are out there.

Michael Mariotte is with Nuclear Information Resources Services. He says already three other energy companies have proposed nuclear power plants.

MICHAEL MARIOTTE: Once the subsidies vanish, I expect a lot of these projects will vanish, too.

Some wonder how TXU can actually build the reactor for the price it says it can. But Mariotte says the bigger question is why TXU would make such an announcement when, with a buyout offer on the table, the company soon could be under new management.

In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

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