Sunday, February 15, 2015

Brutal Winter of 2015 - Not Over Yet

Subtitle: When will Congressional hearings occur to hold mis-leading scientists accountable?

The winter of 2015 is not yet over, not by a long shot.  The US east coast is having a record year for total snowfall, with one blast of cold air following another. Blizzards have brought major cities to a standstill, with public transportation not operating.  Roofs are collapsing on buildings.   Record cold temperature is reported in many areas (record lows, and in some cases, daily high temperatures that are lower then ever recorded).  (citations: too many to include, future visitors are encouraged to search the internet for Winter 2015)  However, here is one link to a NOAA pdf file that describes conditions on the east coast on February 14-15, 2015 see link.  

The conditions mentioned above are entirely consistent with what I wrote, and discussed in a speech in May of 2015, posted on SLB here, see link.  (note, this article is the second most-viewed post on SLB).   The speech title is "Warmists are Wrong, Cooling Is Coming."   A brief portion of the speech is below, from "Part III: Implications" --

Transportation and industrial output:  this will be huge.  We do not move barges over frozen rivers.  We know this.  When a river is frozen for many months out of the year, how can you get your materials moved?  What about trains or heavy ground transportation; will they work? Probably not. The train is going to cross the Rockies’ grades in the snow and ice?   Likely not.

Industrial output: how does one move materials around?  How do we get raw materials into the factories and the products out?  If we have seen big trucks trying to go up even a small incline during an ice storm, well, they don't.  We can not get trucks to go up or down the Grapevine incline here just north of Los Angeles when snow falls.  Multiply this 1000 times across the northern tier of the United States.

Communications and infrastructure: we know what happens when ice storms or big snowstorms occur.   The system fails.  Why does it fail?  It is due to ice on the lines or tree limbs falling on the lines.  Can you imagine this on the scale something like the Little Ice Age?  We’re going to need serious reconsideration of infrastructure.   

We have seen employers being unable to open their doors because their employees cannot get to work.  Mandatory curfews - stay indoors orders - have been issued.  Light rail transportation systems are stopped; the various parts will not function reliably in the deep snow and cold.  One example cited in Boston is rail switches that cannot be operated reliably.   

Power grids are failing due to high winds, with hurricane-level winds, ice on the lines, and limbs or entire trees smashing into the lines.    City budgets for ice and snow removal are already exhausted.   Simply finding a place to put the snow is a major problem. 

In an unprecedented move (to my knowledge), Boston officials allowed snow to be dumped directly into the Boston harbor - an area previously off-limits due to environmental regulations.  

The nuclear power plant at Plymouth, in Massachusetts, has shut down as a precaution in this storm (Feb. 14, 2015) - but was also shut down in an earlier storm a few days ago when the grid failed.   Plant operators assured everyone that they had plenty of fuel for the emergency generators and the plant was safe.   Well, one would expect them to have sufficient fuel for the diesel generators.

The storms are not finished, either.  Weather predictors show yet another blizzard with very cold air next weekend.  

At some point, currently unknown, the US Congress or Senate will hold hearings to inquire why the prominent climate scientists were so very, very wrong.   It won't be while Obama is president, because he has maintained (many times) that global warming is real and a serious threat.  That is entirely false.  Global warming stopped more than a decade ago and the global cooling has begun. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq. 
Marina del Rey, California USA
copyright (c) 2015 by Roger Sowell 

Nuclear Plant Delayed Yet Again - Costs Soar

Subtitle:  Vogtle Plant Expansion approaching $17 billion and 3 years late

The twin-reactor nuclear power plant under construction at the Vogtle site in Georgia (US) has once again had delays and cost over-runs. see link.   From the article:  

“The abysmal failure to execute this project, with the long delays, repeated construction screw-ups and escalating costs, means that even if Vogtle (expansion) is completed, it will not be the starting gun of the race for new (nuclear) reactor construction in the U.S.,” said Mark Cooper, a fellow with the Institute for Energy and the Environment. “It will be the mausoleum in which nuclear power is laid to rest.”  
Vogtle nuclear power plant and expansion project --
Wiki Commons by Charles C. Watson Jr.

This is not a surprise (see link) as nuclear power plants are almost always reported (and sold) at a figure far below the final cost, and their startup dates are optimistically stated as many years before they finally start. It will likely be at least 10 years total, maybe more, to get the plant running.   The project was announced with a 4 year construction period for the first reactor, and clearly that will not happen as 3 years are already added to the schedule. 

The consequences to the utility, and ultimately the rate-payers, are grim.  This is for at least three reasons: 1), the builder must pay interest on the construction loans, 2)  inflation keeps increasing the prices of labor and materials, and 3) the utility must keep purchasing power to send into the grid, power that the nuclear plant is not producing. This may be from keeping older plants running past their shutdown date, or buying power from others. None of this is news, as the South Texas Nuclear Plant (STNP) showed clearly back about 30 years ago. Austin, San Antonio, and Houston all were scrambling to find power for their cities when the STNP ran years and years over schedule. The power they had to purchase was very, very expensive.   

One can speculate what problems are causing the cost over-runs and the delays.   Typical delays on large projects include, but are not limited to, tearing out and re-working faulty construction, equipment suppliers providing late or defective items, serious adverse weather, unforeseen site conditions, and redesign for new regulatory (NRC) requirements.  Also, delays can be caused by worker slowdowns, lawsuits for allowable causes, owner-contractor disputes, contractor-subcontractor disputes, faulty design that requires corrections, acts of God or the enemy (force majeur), improper scheduling by the contractor, inadequate workforce staffing or untrained workforce (learning on the job), poor supervision, and others. 

Even with the unprecedented move of charging rate-payers more on their monthly bills while the plant is constructed, this Vogtle plant will be very costly, perhaps as much as $20 billion at completion.  It may very well require more than 10 years to complete.  At that, it should indeed be the "mausoleum in which nuclear power is laid to rest".   

Sadly, nuclear proponents have only rose-colored glasses and will say something like "it is wrong to condemn an entire industry because one new-technology plant was a bit over-budget."     In the same vein as the nuclear safety mantra, with its steady progression from “no one has ever been injured”, to “no member of the public has ever been injured”, to “no member of the public has died”, to “nuclear power is safer than coal or natural gas,”  nuclear proponents dig ever-deeper in finding creative ways to vainly justify the enormous costs and years-long schedule overruns for nuclear power plants. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.

Marina del Rey, California   
copyright (c) 2015 by Roger Sowell