It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day minutia of the revolution under way in the energy industry—announcements of technology improvements, installation milestones and price reductions of all kinds hit my inbox almost daily. But two recent reports, one highlighting where we’ve been and the second pointing to where we are going, are a useful grounding tool, pointing out that while I (and probably many others) often get lost looking at individual trees there is a whole forest out there.
The first report, an Energy Department publication dubbed Revolution…Now (which can be found here), walks through the startling changes in five clean energy technologies during the past five-plus years. While much of this information may be familiar, it is worth a quick review.
Continue reading Taking A Step Back
Brings Energy Revolution
Clearly Into Focus
It is increasingly clear that the economics of nuclear power don’t add up. Just in the past two and a half years, for example, seven plants at six sites have been shut down due to uneconomic performance or massive equipment repair costs—and other plants are on the chopping block. Similarly, the two ballyhooed active construction projects, in Georgia and South Carolina, are seriously behind schedule and way over budget. Nonetheless, utility executives and regulators in a number of states still have not gotten the message, notably in Florida and Virginia where executives at Juno Beach-based Florida Power & Light and Richmond-based Dominion soldier on, pushing new reactor proposals whose economics, simply put, just don’t add up and could leave ratepayers holding the bag for billions of dollars in nuclear construction costs.
The charade is particularly obvious in Florida, where FPL, a unit of NextEra Energy, annually goes through a process with state regulators to show the feasibility of a proposed two-unit, 2,200 megawatt addition to its existing facility at Turkey Point south of Miami. The yearly dance was completed last month with regulators signing off on FPL’s feasibility analysis as “reasonable” and approving the utility’s ability to recover from ratepayers the roughly $25 million it will spend this year on the reactor proposal.
A closer look at FPL’s analysis, however, shows that, at best, it stretches the boundaries of what can be considered reasonable. In particular, there is the little matter of whether the plant will be built and operated for 40 years, or 60.
Continue reading Nuclear Power Economics
In `Impossible Things’