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Nuking Your Wallet

Remember the last Presidential election campaign? (OK – put the frying pan down, take a pill and chill…) Remember when McSame and Failin’ talked about building 45 new “nukular” reactors to help America achieve energy independence? Ever remember anyone talking about the price tag? Of course not. Well, it’d be roughly $500 billion. Would that this were the end of the matter.
Back in August of 2007, Michael Morris, the CEO of American Electric Power stated point-blank that his company wasn’t planning on building any new reactor facilities any time soon. Quote: “I”m not convinced that we’ll see a new nuclear station before probably the 2020 timeline.” Selah…

The nuclear power industry can’t get private financing to get any new reactors started so they’re taking the back-door route via the Congress.

A Senate Bill introduced in September would give the oil industry the right to drill virtually anywhere it wants, environment be damned. That alone is egregious. However, within the text of that bill is something even more scurrilous – essentially a blank check for loan guarantees to build new nuclear power stations.
The nuclear industry tried this before. In 2007 they tried to surreptitiously weasel in a codicil that would have guaranteed $50 billion in loans into a bill sponsored by Senator Pete Dominici, (R -NM) the nuclear lobby’s Bitch in Congress. However, environmental groups got wind of it and after some deft counter-lobbying, the bill was tanked. Of course, this made the nuclear industry even more desperate to get their hands on your cash and are using the “drill, drill, and drill some more” campaign as a stalking horse to try another end-run around the electorate.
The bill in question would not only grant loan guarantees and also waive many of those pesky regulatory laws (including the licensing of the high-level radioactive waste dump the industry wants in Yucca Mountain which would cost at least $100 billion) but it also would pass 100% of the liability of failed reactor construction projects directly on to the taxpayer.

The public is already on the hook for their own private insurance against nuclear reactor accidents since the nuclear industry can’t get private insurance for either existing or future reactors and now it wants you to assume the liability of their possible future failures in building them, while also kicking in to fund them as well.

But we need energy, don’t we? Well, yes, we do. And what’s nuclear energy going to cost you? Electricity generated by nuclear power stations costs around 15 cent per kilowatt-hour. That seems paltry until you realize that that’s twice the cost of electricity from conventional sources. Currently, Progress Energy is planning on constructing two 1,100 megawatt nuclear plants in Florida. The cost (not including the $3 billion required for new additional transmission towers) is estimated at $14 billion with a price of $7,700 per kilowatt. How will they pay for this? Well, fortunately, Under Florida law (and yes, Florida actually does have laws – they just don’t seem to apply during elections) power companies can raise the rates of their consumers $100 a year long before these plants are even a foundation hole in the ground.

So the nuclear option seems immenently viable. As long as you as a taxpayer are willing to assume the cost of building and liability, and have your electric bill double. And what responsibilities will the power companies themselves assume?

Counting your money and laughing all the way to the bank.


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