Thursday, June 11, 2009

Republican Plan to Increase U.S. Nuclear Plants

The Republicans at the national level have released their plan to provide energy in the U.S., and it includes building 100 new nuclear power plants within the next 20 years. I am a conservative Republican, but I cannot support such a proposal. Actually, I am a Compassionate Rational Consequentialist, but that is a subject for another day.

As I have shown before, increasing the percentage of the nation's power derived from nuclear power plants increases average electric power price (see this link and scroll down to "is nuclear power affordable". Pay particular attention to the chart I provide). When the true cost of new plants is included, the power price will escalate to 30 or even 40 percent more than its present cost.

The horrible consequences of such a massive increase in electric power rates fall especially hard on the poor, the elderly, those on fixed incomes, and those just barely getting by paycheck to paycheck.

New nuclear power plants will cost from $8 to $10 billion per 1,000 MW, with the power produced at 30 t0 40 cents to pay for the plants (on an un-subsidized basis). This is absolute nuttiness when so many preferable alternatives exist.

It is far better to install natural gas fired combined cycle plants, and burn our abundant and cheap natural gas. It is better still to install wind turbines with gas plants as backup, or solar, and install underwater turbines to generate power from ocean currents. There are at least seven alternatives to consider for grid-scale power storage, as I wrote about here.

One hundred more nuclear power plants at $10 billion each would cost 1,000 Billion, or $1 trillion. The same amount of power can be provided by natural gas at one-eighth the cost, or approximately $120 billion. It is elementary economics that it would be a waste of capital resources to waste money on nuclear power plants.

In any event, no investor in their right mind will build a new nuclear plant in the U.S. without government subsidies. It is of great concern to me that Toshiba, a Japanese company, has formed a partnership with a U.S. company to build their nuclear plant design in south Texas, to double the capacity of the infamous South Texas Nuclear Project. It is quite possible that Toshiba will absorb the losses and cost overruns to be able to state that the project cost only $5 billion per reactor, as advertised.

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.

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