Guest Opinion: Utah may be doomed to repeat nuclear history

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  • Russell Lowes Tucson, AZ
    April 25, 2019 12:16 p.m.

    Solar has only one federal subsidy. Depending on the state, it might have a subsidy, but none amount to as much as the federal subsidy. The federal subsidy is a 30% Investment Tax Credit. If the solar power purchase agreement (PPA), or 3rd party sale is for 3¢ per subsidized kilowatt-hour, as is roughly the cutting edge average these days, then you take 3¢/0.7 to account for the 30% ITC and you get 4.3¢ unsubsidized. Subtracting 3 from 4.3 give you 1.3¢/kWhe of subsidy.
    On the other hand, nuclear energy subsidies run 6-7¢/kWhe. See the best study done to-date on these subsidies at: https://tinyurl.com/NukeSubsidy
    It makes sense to subsidize an emerging technology, where the costs are declining by 7% a year. It does not make sense to subsidize the nuclear industry, with its massive 60-year record of cost overruns.
    Thanks to Peter Bradford for having the courage to go against the industry he once was a regulator for. He defies the regulatory capture model we are so locked into these days.

  • What in Tucket Provo, UT
    April 25, 2019 9:21 a.m.

    I was under the impression the new nuclear modular plants produce 50 megawatts each and can be transported by truck to the site. In the past nuclear plants which power 20% of US electricity were over 1,000 megawatts. Thus it would be simple to install one of these smaller units and test it. If it doesn't work out the expense is not so much. If it works successfully then that is good. I agree that it might not be quite as inexpensive as natural gas which will still be needed. Nuclear power is pretty constant, but the power demand is not. As for solar and wind when one removes the subsidies they are about 3-5X more expensive.

  • Mike Keller Overland Park, KS
    April 25, 2019 8:14 a.m.

    Municipal power has a fiduciary responsibility to provide reasonably priced power. The financial risk associated with building nuclear power is immense. Building a natural gas plant has essentially no financial risk.

    As for Peter Bradford, nuclear power is grossly over-regulated and that is the major reason for the very high costs to build nuclear plants. Mr. Bradford helped create the over regulation.

    In the final analysis, natural gas plants are financially and operationally superior to nuclear power. That is the choice that should be made for insuring reasonably priced power.

  • AGF Taylorsville, UT
    April 24, 2019 2:16 p.m.

    Greens caused our dependence on fossil fuels through their opposition to nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal, and so are responsible for a large portion of our CO2 emissions. You'd never know it from this article, but France still gets 70% of its electricity from nuclear, and sells some of it to England and Germany at competitive prices as necessitated by England's and Germany's growing shortage of available power--due to their heavy investment in renewable energy.

    Much of the cost of new nuclear construction is also due to restrictions designed by environmentalists to keep the plants from being built--the more the delay, the higher the cost overrun, and the fewer companies willing to take on the risk of failure.

    And all this when renewables only increase the cost and unreliability of electricity, both in on-site efficiency and in the headaches they cause for the grid. They always need gas or coal backup (now subsidized in England) at great expense. And solar panels yield about 300 times as much toxic waste by weight per KWH produced as nuclear plants. They are building up a pollution debt that makes uranium mining look clean and green by comparison. --AGF

  • old cuss 101 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 24, 2019 12:17 p.m.

    Mr. Bradford had a credential employment, but I wonder who is paying him to write this article. SUWA? Some entity that knows that "Delay is the deadliest form of denial..."

    There are good posts ahead of this one. We absolutely need clean, CO2 free, nuclear energy as the workhorse of a national energy program. Given that, other renewables can contribute as they are economically viable.

    We need to get Yucca Mountain available for spent fuel storage and we need to get "featherbedding" out of the power plant construction business.

    I can't understand why there is a block of people who complain about problems with fossil fuel energy, but want to deny us, and the world for that matter, from accessing the one potential source (nuclear) that has the magnitude to carry us through many generations. We have to think that an upscale of the safe and reliable nuclear reactors that power submarines and aircraft carriers can be a good idea.

  • Strider303 American Fork, UT
    April 24, 2019 10:28 a.m.

    I support nuclear power. No system is without some negatives but nuclear can provide a steady source of power to the grid. New plant design eliminates large draws of water (a plus for the arid west) and there are processes to mitigate the long half life of waste to a manageable level of time.

    The "green" sources, wind and solar have serious limitations for inclusion in the grid; their input constantly varies and requires the generators to pick up the constantly varying slack which is hard on the equipment. The wind farm equipment seems to not meet the service life as advertised. Solar power is extremely variable in output and is unavailable when most needed - at night. As to huge batteries, what is the environmental cost to produce them?

    Maybe solar and wind generation should be for off the grid living for single family dwellings. If it's really so great, cut the cord and go it alone. I read where a lot of people have altered their life-style to accommodate their independence.

    Nuclear power is safe, teenagers and twenty-somethings have been running reactors for decades in the Navy.

  • SC Matt Saline, MI
    April 24, 2019 9:34 a.m.

    @RedShirt:

    "frivolous lawsuits to stop or slow down the construction of nuclear power plants."

    That's not actually that much of an impact. Maybe at one time it was, but with the new process where a design gets NRC approval, and *then* a utility decides to build a plant, there's really no point at which a potential intervener will cost the utility anything on the order of even 1/3 the cost of the plant.

    Yeah, lawyers are expensive. But not as expensive as paying 5000 people to build something and only getting labor productivity at 30% of projected because the general contractor had no idea how to do (or schedule) nuclear construction.

    Awarding the contract to the lowest bidder doesn't work if the lowest bidder has no clue how to do the job. (This mistake forced Toshiba, Westinghouse's parent, to sell it's memory chip business to stay afloat.)

    Luckily Fluor (NuScale's parent) knows nuclear construction. Also helpful is that the important, safety related, parts will be built in a factory then shipped.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    April 24, 2019 9:08 a.m.

    To "Impartial7" the people who are probably making the most money are the environmentalist lawyers who bring up frivolous lawsuits to stop or slow down the construction of nuclear power plants.

    To "Baron Scarpia" you do realize that wind and solar get direct subsidies from the Federal Government. If you look at the dollars per kWh produced, nuclear gets 1.7 cents per kWh produced while wind and solar get 5 cents per kWh. At the same time wind and solar power companies charge a premium for their power.

    To "Thomas Jefferson" if you are against socializing the cost of power generation, then you must be completely anti-wind and solar since they get more in subsidies than anybody else.

  • Thomas Jefferson Salt Lake City, UT
    April 24, 2019 7:47 a.m.

    I dont have a real problem with nuclear energy. I am not afraid of it and I think we can find ways to deal with the waste.

    I am very sick and tired of the consistent way that we socialize the costs and privatize the profits of all kinds of businesses.
    If business wants to take a risk and invest in a way to produce power then that risk should be fully funded by them, including bonds for permanent waste storage the end of life of said plants.

  • SC Matt Saline, MI
    April 24, 2019 7:31 a.m.

    @Partial7:

    "If this is such a great idea (their track record doesn't show it is)"

    Actually, "this" hasn't been tried before.

    Nobody has built nuclear reactors in a factory, and then shipped them to the site, ready to drop into a pool.

    The biggest problem with the SC project was rework. Modular construction was a great idea, but then Westinghouse got terminally stupid by picking a contractor with no experience in nuclear construction to make the modules.

    It went about as well as can be expected after making that decision.

    Had they picked Bechtel or Fluor originally as General Contractor, the plants would already be on-line.

    Fluor is experienced in nuclear construction. As is BWXT, the company right now working on the design step of "this is how you can build this thing." The important (and expensive) part of the construction will be done in a factory setting, by people doing the same thing over and over again.

    The work on site? That's going to be easier. Digging a huge hole is easy. The one large safety-related structure that needs to be site built is the pool, and that's rebar and concrete. Far easier than assembly of 100s of safety related parts.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    April 24, 2019 6:09 a.m.

    @ NoNamesAccepted

    "Solar and wind are too unreliable too meet base needs, too expensive to be widely deployed..."

    Just a point of clarification. Wind and solar costs have dropped significantly in the past decade, and a report over the weekend noted that solar and wind are now cheaper in most places than running existing coal plants.

    Nuclear has enjoyed massive government subsidies for decades, and the waste generated from nuclear power used 50 years ago is still being "maintained" at taxpayer/ratepayer expense today. Think about that. The waste created by the "cheap" power you talk about is still being paid for by the grandkids who used that power in the 1960s, and it will be at the expense of future generations to come.

    The other problem is that nuclear is a big water guzzler. Come drought, nuclear power can be threatened. Wind and solar with storage require virtually no water.

    The sad reality is that cities are at the mercy of what is available to be sold, and if renewable energy/storage projects aren't available, cities have to turn to what few options are presented -- and those decisions will force those cities to live with that power till the end of this century.

  • Zabilde Riverdale, UT
    April 24, 2019 5:44 a.m.

    This piece is pure FUD (Fear uncertainty and doubt). If we are truly going to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and decrease our carbon output Nuclear HAS to be part of the discussion. There is no other energy source as stable, reliable and safe as nuclear. If anything the Government needs to back these projects by doing whatever it can to safely reduce the costs.

    Nuclear Power's track record is actually outstanding. No other energy comes as close to it's safety record. I wonder what motivation this author has in attacking this plan? What competing design or energy source is he working for spreading his fear, uncertainty and doubt about a proven power-source. The designs may be newer but that would make them safer and more reliable. Unlike the decades old technology and engineering of all currently running reactors, these new designs are designed and tested extensively before they are ever built. And the engineers have decades of Nuclear Power plant operations to look at for potential flaws and issues.

    If you care about the environment you should be backing Nuclear all the way.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    April 23, 2019 9:28 p.m.

    Those who attack coal, who deride hyrdo, and then also claim that nuclear is bad are not dealing with reality.

    Natural gas is great, but is not sufficient by itself to meet our energy needs. Every attempt to expand production is also attacked as destroying natural beauty. And until battery technology gets an order of magnitude better, we should be using natural gas for mobile energy needs (ie cars) rather than using it for fixed energy needs like electrical production.

    Solar and wind are too unreliable too meet base needs, too expensive to be widely deployed, so remote from consumer centers as to require the kind of massive transmission lines that would be opposed if they were carrying electricity from any other source.

    Nuclear is clean and safe.

    It is costly only and precisely because opponents sue, sue, sue some more, and drive up costs. Self fulfilling prophecy. The USA has never had a death from civil nuclear power generation. It took socialists in Russia to blow up Chernobl and a bad design in a bad location to cause serious problems in Japan. Other than those two incidents?

    Anyone opposing nuclear power is not serious about reducing carbon emissions.

  • Impartial7 DRAPER, UT
    April 23, 2019 8:10 p.m.

    Just say "No". No to taxpayer dollars. If this is such a great idea (their track record doesn't show it is), let Wall Street and Big Banks invest in them. Somebody's getting rich and I'm betting those same people "donate" to lawmakers that allow this scam to bleed taxpayers dry.