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Nuclear Energy Image Credit: awnisALAN

Published on June 7th, 2013 | by Jake Richardson

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San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant To Be Retired



Southern California Edison, the operator of the San Onofre plant north of San Diego, has decided to retire the reactors. ‘[The plant] has served this region for over 40 years. But we have concluded that the continuing uncertainty about when or if [the plant] might return to service was not good for our customers, our investors, or the need to plan for our region’s long-term electricity needs,’  explained the company’s CEO. (Source: BBC News)

Image Credit: awnisALAN

Image Credit: awnisALAN

Operations at the plant had ceased in January of 2012 due to some technical problems, that resulted in a small radiation leak. Radioactive waste will continue to be stored at the site, but the reactors will be decommissioned. About $2.7 billion is available for the decommissioning. Over the next several months the number of employees at the plant will be reduced from 1,500 to 600.

“This is very good news for the people of Southern California. We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed.  The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and the wind,” said Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth.  (Source: SCPR.org)

On May 28, it was reported that California senator Barbara Boxer had stated an investigation may be necessary because of preliminary evidence that San Onofre officials might have mislead federal authorities.

Activists and concerned citizens are undoubtedly happy about the plant’s retirement. Some critics have said its location in a seismically active area made it too vulnerable and that its proximity to population centers was dangerous. Another criticism is that the technology and design are outdated. The soon to be shuttered plant provided power to about 1.4 million homes in the area.

Yesterday, it was reported that a new nuclear power project in Iowa had been abandoned.

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  • CaptD

    N☢ San Onofre Gate

    First, a salute to all of San Onofre’s loyal workers that have or will lose their jobs because of SCE Managements poor engineering decisions, everyone feels sorry for both you and your families, there is no good time to be laid off. We also feel sorry for all the local businesses and families that live in the neighborhoods located near San Onofre that will feel the effects of these job loses. Hopefully as many as possible of you can remain here by getting retrained by SCE, so that you can be retained or re-hired (along with many others) to decommission San Onofre a big job that we now know will last for many years and cost billions of dollars which will hopefully help jumpstart the entire southern California economy!

    To all those that are now upset, angry and/or worried about the future because San Onofre is being decommissioned, I urge all you to not focus your frustration upon those who protested by publicizing the many actual safety concerns at San Onofre but join with them and together demand to learn much more about why San Onofre had to be decommissioned. We all deserve to know exactly who at SCE was responsible for their decisions to use unproven radical designed RSG’s at San Onofre that not only failed so quickly after being put into service but leaked radioactivity into the air we breathe, putting everyone in southern California at risk!

    From a soon to be released article…

  • CaptD

    Solar = Energy Freedom after short payback

    Nuclear = Energy Slavery and massive RISK and nuclear waste

  • Bob_Wallace

    Some more news from the nuclear renaissance…

    “Only three nuclear construction projects have moved forward, and they are all under financial pressure.

    The Tennessee Valley Authority is finishing a long-mothballed reactor at its Watts Bar plant. Initially budgeted at $2.5 billion, the utility has said finishing the project could cost up to $2 billion more.

    Atlanta-based Southern Co. owns a 46 percent share of two new reactors being constructed at Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia, a project originally estimated at $14 billion. Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power recently asked regulators to raise its share of the construction budget by $737 million to roughly $6.85 billion.

    It may cost more. Georgia Power and the companies designing and building the plant are in a legal fight that may cost the utility more money. Separately, an independent monitor hired by Georgia regulators has warned of additional potential costs.

    SCANA Corp. announced this week that it expects its costs to rise by around $200 million and the construction schedule to slip while building two reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in South Carolina.

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765631699/Nuclear-plant-closures-show-industrys-struggles.html?pg=2

    BAU

  • Mohan Raj

    For 40 years this reactor withstood all the quake and hurricanes and generated clean electricity and took off millions of tons of Carbon emissions.

    Meanwhile oil companies are happily fracking and in the process drawing billions of gallons of water, and also breaking the rocks and no one know how much pollution it creates. There is no opposition to fracking, but for nuclear they do.

    There in China more new nuclear reactors are built. Yesterday they started 1 reactor. Day is not far when Chinese will sell Gen-4 reactor for the World markets.

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Hongyanhe_1_enters_commercial_operation-0706134.html

    • Bob_Wallace

      Yep. These reactors stood up well to all the hurricanes that hit Southern California.

      And it wasn’t bothered by the earthquakes that shook SoCal because they were all in the fault zones some distance from the reactors. It didn’t get tested by having a nice big shaker happen in its locale.

      China has rethought their nuclear future. They’ve cut their building plans by one third and decided to build new reactors only away from where large numbers of people live and where fresh water supplies might be destroyed.

      Gen 4. Mythical Gen 4 reactors. The stuff dreams are made of….

    • agelbert

      Wind power in China is MUCH cheaper and growing at nearly double that of the previous year EVERY year.

      Look at this video of huge turbines being mass produced in China. It’s OVER for nuclear power. Get over it.

      [embed=640,380]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trHcmFeO3mY#[/embed]

      • Bob_Wallace

        We now have four US reactors shut down for economic reasons in the first half of 2013.

        Crystal River and the two SONGS reactors required some repair in order to be brought back online and it seems that there wouldn’t have been enough profit to make the expenditure worthwhile.

        Kewaunee was working fine. Just couldn’t make any money in today’s market.

        At least three other US reactors are in danger of going broke.

      • Mohan Raj

        We can use the wind to replace coal and oil first, after phasing out all the dirty fossil fueled power plants, then we can start on nuclear power.

        • Bob_Wallace

          It’s more complex than that.

          Generation decisions are being made based on finances, not carbon avoidance. (I’m not arguing that’s a good thing, just observing what is happening.)

          Right now wind is lowering the off-peak cost of electricity which is causing nuclear and coal plants to sell for less and even incur losses.

          Solar is starting to bring down the cost of peak hour electricity which means that coal and nuclear earn less when peak demand takes prices high.

          In Australia, for example, coal plants can make as much as 25% of their profits in as little as 40 hours a year. Those are the 40 hours of peak-peak demand when demand really pushes the available supply. Solar on rooftops wipes out that extra demand and lowers demand whenever the Sun is shining.

          Wind is lowering the floor, solar is lowering the ceiling.

          Generators which have fuel/operating costs and can’t shut down when grid prices are low are in trouble.

          • Mohan Raj

            Good writing and good points Bob – I appreciate it

            I bought wind energy for 11 years. Still I support nuclear since global warming is serious issue.

            China, India, Russia continues to build nuclear power for base load electricity. So US should also retain the existing nuclear power plants and instead replace the coal, oil & gas fired generation with wind and solar and a few nuclear reactors.

            The saved natgas can be used to replace diesel in transport.

          • Ross

            Whether anyone is a supporter of nuclear or not is to first approximation irrelevant to solving the problem of removing fossil fuels from the world’s energy system because nuclear is too costly and risky to achieve mass deployment.

          • http://www.biodiversivist.com Russ Finley

            Remove the subsidies from wind and solar and watch what happens …the market would rapidly decide that they are too expensive.

          • Altair IV

            Then remove the (often hidden) subsidies from fossil fuels and nuclear and watch the market even more rapidly decide that they’re even less of a bargain than wind and solar.

          • http://www.biodiversivist.com Russ Finley

            I’m all for replacing fossil fuels but we won’t get there lying to ourselves. If all subsidies were pulled from all energy sources, corn ethanol, wind, and solar would disappear withing a few years. Oil, coal, and natural gas would cost slightly more at the source, but would continue unabated because, like it or not, they are still the less expensive options.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Between 1947 and 1999 nuclear received average annual subsidies of $3.50 billion.

            Between 1994 and 2009 renewables received average annual subsidies of $0.37 billion.

            Nuclear received 10x as much in subsidies in its first 15 years than renewable energy received in its first 15 years.

            http://www.dblinvestors.com/documents/What-Would-Jefferson-Do-Final-Version.pdf

            $182 billion in subsidies for nuclear.

            $5.6 billion for renewables. Most of the renewable energy subsidies went to corporate corn farms to subsidize the cost of ethanol.

            We’ve subsidized nuclear hundreds of times greater than wind and solar. The price of nuclear keeps going up, the cost of wind and solar keeps dropping.

            How about we pay some attention to what is working and what isn’t?

          • http://www.biodiversivist.com Russ Finley

            Divide the purported subsidy by energy produced and you will find that renewables are more subsidized than nuclear. It helps to separate nuclear weapon research from nuclear energy while you’re at it.

            The point is that wind, solar, and nuclear need to be subsidized to defeat cheaper fossil fuels. Using the cost argument against Nuclear is shooting holes in your renewable feet. Neither nuclear or wind and solar can defeat fossil fuels alone.

            http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/michael-shellenberger-and-ted-nordhaus/no-solar-way-around-it

            http://bravenewclimate.com/2013/03/22/counting-hidden-costs-of-energy/

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s not a legitimate comparison, Russ.

            Nuclear has a 60 year installation history, renewables have been installed at a serious level well less than half that long. One would expect a technology which has had over twice as long to grow to have greater output.

            Nuclear received 10x as much in subsidies in its first 15 years as did renewables and most of the renewable subsidies went to large corn farms as an ethanol subsidy.

            Then, we never do a full accounting of the subsidies nuclear receives and has received. Taxpayers are on the hook for the cost of a serious nuclear accident. You’ll notice that the costs of the Fukushima disaster are expected to be at least $250 billion and Japanese taxpayers are picking up the tab, not the people who owned the reactors. Same would be the case in the US. And US taxpayers are on the hook for dealing with all the radioactive waste.

            Additionally, we built over 20 GW of pump-up storage in order to incorporate nuclear on our grids. Those are subsidy expenses that are never attributed to nuclear.

            And a very significant number of reactors were begun and never finished or brought on line but shut down after only a short time of operation. Taxpayers/ratepayers paid out billions and billions of dollars for those boondoggles. More unrecognized subsidies.

            The bottom line is that nuclear energy has received massive amounts of subsidy and the price of electricity from a reactor keeps getting more expensive.

            Renewable have received only a tiny amount in comparison and the price of their electricity keeps going down and down and down.

            Some investments pay dividends. Some don’t.

            Now, your link – you do understand what the Breakthrough Institute is, don’t you? You familiar with Dick Cheney and Karl Rove? They’re right there behind the curtain. Do some checking.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Nope, you got that mostly wrong, Russ.

            Wind and solar would be fine. Both are already competitive with existing electricity generation sources.

            No new nuclear reactors would be built. Private money simply won’t finance them unless taxpayers accept the risk.

            No new coal plants would be built. Too expensive.

            Natural gas would be OK.

            Emerging technologies would be hurt, but that should go without saying.

          • CaptD

            Nat Gas is unable to replace diesel, since diesel provides much more energy. Think buses having a tough time going up hill vs. Buses zooming up hill!

    • CaptD

      Your comment is the same one used by the Japanese before Fukushima was destroyed…

      Everything is wonderful until it is not!

      San Onofre’s replacement steam generators were dangerous because of their design and to wish they were restarted is just scary to those that would suffer most from a nuclear accident in southern California!

  • MrTemecula

    Cost is a huge component in how fast California can reduce greenhouse gases. I’m tired how unrealistic Boxer and environmentalists are when it comes to cost. How big was a Fukushima risk was San Onofre? One out of a thousand? One out of a million? I’m sure after Fukushima, San Onofre went back and looked at their emergency procedure and reduced their risk. How much CO2 from coal-fired power plants need to replace the 1.4 million home San Onofre used to power. That’s 10% of the total homes in California. California’s economy is starting to recover and now everybody’s energy bill just went up. Transitioning to renewable energy just got much harder because we don’t have enough money and we harmed our economy to pay for it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      A large enough risk that many people living in the danger zone wanted those reactors shut down.

      How much additional CO2 will this create short term and long term. Need to split that question. Short term, some. Additional natural gas is being burned. Longer term, probably none.

      Did everyone’s utility bill just go up? Probably not much in the short term and probably none in the long term.

      We’re bringing renewables on line pretty fast and this will likely speed things up.

      • MrTemecula

        These are the blithe answers from environmentalists are upsetting. In the long term, if you wait long enough, all the extra CO2 will eventually return to ground. It doesn’t do much for the generation in between, though.

        How is paying extra for carbon-burning energy instead of renewable energy going to be helpful? Is there really extra money floating around in California that all those environmentalists missed? Once again, if you wait long enough, the long term the cost becomes insignificant, except for Californians who happen to live there now and have to pay the bills.

        And closing San Onofre did nothing to speed up bringing renewables, because I did not hear any new non-renewable plants to replace San Onofre. I read we have to reconsider gas power plants planned for retirement and we have to import more power from a nuclear power plant in Arizona.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Nothing blithe about my reply. Just statements of facts as I best understand them.

          Your “doesn’t do much for the generation in between” should use the plural “generations”. The CO2 we’ve added will be with us far, far longer than a single generation.

          The decision to close San Onofre is separate from reducing CO2. IMO it would be wise to hang on to all the reactors deemed adequately safe while we get more renewables on the grid. But I have to respect the feelings of people in Germany, SoCal or any other place who do not want to live with the continued danger of a reactor close to them.

          And San O might not fit my qualification of “adequately safe”. Here’s what Senator Boxer (chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee) had to say…

          “This nuclear plant had a defective redesign and could no longer operate as intended. Modifications to the San Onofre nuclear plant were unsafe and posed a danger to the eight million people living within 50 miles of the plant,” she said in a statement.

          You might want to do some checking to see how much wind and solar is being installed in SoCal. The rate is far from insignificant. And since the closing of San O was announced only today I doubt that plans to replace that power with renewables have had time to form. Up until hours ago it was assumed that those reactors would get at least a trial start in the fall.

          • MrTemecula

            Good catch on the plural and I did mean it to be plural as in multiple generations. I know this a site promoting clean technology, and short pieces are the norm, but that means lot of the items tend toward the banal and without the debate about how difficult this going to be.

            I happen to live in Los Angeles and this is big news. A lot of people lost their jobs from the shutdown and people are worried about the rates. Democrats never worried about property taxes until, eventually, Prop 13 happened and Californians have had trouble with their budgets and big public projects since then. If Californians utility bills go out of whack, this can easily spiral out of control again and renewable energy will take a backseat.

            Here’s a good article about wholesale power price for southern California since San Onofre shutdown.

            http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10531

            In a couple years, the closing of San Onofre may have been a setback for environmentalists.

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s an interesting graph.

            What I see is that after SONGS shut down in Jan 2012 the price of summer electricity was a bit higher in SoCal than in NoCal.

            Why there would be another bump following Jan 2013? Who knows. It can’t be due to SONGS being off line because those reactors had already been offline for a year.

            Will this get spun by nuclear fans/those opposed to renewables? That’s more than possible.

          • Matt

            As for the rise in price between 4/2012 and 1/2013 it is smaller than the rise between 4/2009 and 1/2010 when SONGS was on line. So I guess I can say the SONGS cause the price to rise more? Want to bet there is more going on here?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I can’t tell what is going on based on the data on hand.

            I would not be surprised at all to learn that the difference between NoCal and SoCal prices starting in 4/12 is at least partially due to SONGS going offline.

            IIRC they had to bring at least one old gas plant out of retirement in order to cover the lost power. I also wouldn’t be surprised to find that they had to pay more than usual to buy power from outside the area. And if they operate on merit order pricing (don’t know) then that would pull up all sorts of costs.

            The big bump post 1/10/2013 – hard to see how one blames it on SONGS being gone. Nothing similar happened the winter/spring of 2012.

            It’s summer/early fall when a loss of capacity should bump prices. Not winter when demand is generally low.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “Democrats never worried about property taxes until, eventually, Prop 13 happened”

            That’s bunk. People of all parties were concerned about low income seniors and other getting pushed out of their homes by rising property taxes caused by rapidly increasing property values.

            “In a couple years, the closing of San Onofre may have been a setback for environmentalists.”

            I really doubt that. Friends of radiation and carbon pollution may still be riding that horse, but I’ll bet the cost of electricity has dropped due to a lot more renewable generation, especially solar, on line.

            More solar on line and gas peaker plants get less and less use. Less electricity is purchased from out of state at high merit order pricing.

            Germany is enjoying 40% lower wholesale electricity rates thanks to solar on sunny days and that’s led to a 10% lower wholesale electricity cost overall.

          • JPlattim1933

            China has rethought their nuclear future. They’ve cut their building
            plans by one third and decided to build new reactors only away from
            where large numbers of people live and where fresh water supplies might
            be destroyed.­ ­http://mybestfriendmakes65dollarsper&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

          • CaptD
          • Danny

            Nuclear power it a cheaper source of energy then solar energy, it doesn’t incur the problems that solar power causes, feeding energy back to front. Nuclear energy has been proven to be a reliable source of clean energy cost effective over the lifetime when compared to the failures of solar power grid tied solar energy.
            I cannot help notice Germany’s electricity price has gone through the roof after the closure of its reactors and relying upon a failed technology of solar energy which is now they have to import large amount of energy from foreign neighbours, that’s complete disaster.
            Figures released in December that the poor people in Germany can’t afford to pay the high cost of renewable energy on their power bills, there are also reports in Australia of the same thing happening economical disaster’s to its stupid schemes like this.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Not right, Danny.

            New nuclear is more expensive than new solar.

            New nuclear is at least $0.12/kWh and probably much higher. That does not include government subsidies which nuclear receives.

            New solar is being installed at less than $0.10/kWh. That price includes no subsidies.

            Old (paid off) nuclear is cheaper than solar, but it is the price of wind and natural gas that are killing old nuclear. They are causing off-peak losses. And solar is also hurting old nuclear because it is helping to drop the price of peak supply.

            The wholesale price of electricity has dropped by 10% in Germany due to solar on their grid. The problem is that the utility companies are not passing those savings on to retail customers.

            Germany has been a net exporter of electricity for several years.

            In 2012 Germany exported 66.6 TWh of electricity, earning 3.7 billion euros or 5.6 cents/kWh.

            In 2012 Germany imported 43.8 TWh of electricity, paying 2.3 billion euros or 5.25 cents/kWh.

            http://www.renewablesinternational.net/german-power-exports-more-valuable-than-imports/150/537/61663/

            Germany exported 52% more electricity than it imported. For the 43.8 TWh of electricity they sold/bought back they earned a 7% profit per kWh.

            The high price of electricity is due to necessary grid upgrades because more people are installing AC. If people weren’t installing solar in AU and reducing demand then the cost of electricity would be much higher than it is.

            Take a good look at where you’re getting your information. Someone has sold you a big load of bunk.

          • Geo.Wolfgang

            No one is installing AC that a load BS, electricity is more expensive as solar power is the driving forces behind higher prices world wide.

            Solar power is more expensive than Nuclear power, solar power subsidies are the major cause.

            That wrong that Germany exports power, they import power because solar didn’t work as a reliable source of energy, Germany now paying the price for closing down its reactors, Germany never imported power before.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Geo., I could have written that paragraph a bit better.

            Air conditioning is being installed in great amounts in Australia. Australia is the “AU” in the paragraph.

            The extra load created by AC in AU has a created a need for grid improvement and that infrastructure has caused electricity prices to rise.

            Apparently there is a group of people, perhaps very few, perhaps fossil fuel employees, who spam the web claiming that solar is causing electricity prices to rise when, in fact, solar actually lowers the price of electricity as it is in Germany.

            Now, you dispute the import/export numbers I posted for Germany. Please show us a link to reliable numbers.

            I’ll give you some more numbers which I believe correct and the link to those numbers is at the bottom.

            Beginning in 2008 Germany began exporting significantly more electricity than they imported. In 2009 through 2011 Germany exported about 32% more electricity than they imported. In 2012 they exported 77% more than they imported.

            Years 2008 – 2009 – 2010 – 2011 – 2012

            Exported 62510 62310 61700 61700 54130

            Imported 46130 42870 41670 41670 12280

            Net Export 16380 19440 20030 20030 41850

            % Net Exp 26.20% 31.20% 32.46% 32.46% 77.31%

            http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?v=83&c=gm&l=en

            Germany has been a net exporter of electricity at least as far back as 2008. And since beginning to close its nuclear plants has exported even more.

            Now. Can you prove your assertion?

        • Ross

          “In the long term, if you wait long enough, all the extra CO2 will eventually return to ground.”

          What happens to the climate in between those two points has significant implications for life.

          • MrTemecula

            Ah, yeah, I’m glad you noticed.

          • MrTemecula

            Sorry, I should not be sarcastic. It’s a poor form of communication. It’s a blog and I usually give a pass on blithe statements, but the baseball fan in me who likes numbers wanted a clearer picture. How much money is this going to take. How much extra CO2 will be pumped into the atmosphere. Will California rates go up and what are the political implications. Perhaps global warming should be given priority over nuclear danger and waste.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What if we took the billions being spent on propping up almost worn out nuclear plants and building new ones and instead used that money to install wind, solar and storage?

          • CaptD

            We would then start racing Germany toward Energy Freedom for all.

          • MrTemecula

            What if we took the billions we could have saved refitting the nuclear plant, the millions in tax dollar saved and the 500 workers who lost their jobs and that includes the tax money and and the lost economic output and installed wind, solar, storage and upgraded the grid? That’s not to mention the tons of CO2 that we blithely released that we now have to make up.

        • CaptD

          MrT… CA will begin to install massive amounts of solar once the CPUC gets the Utilities to pay home owners the same amount they pay themselves for energy generated (at the time it is generated), until then the Utilities will continue to rip off ratepayers and keep them in energy Slavery!

    • Laurence

      That nuclear will have to be replaced with coal is such a tired, old argument and at least 5 years out of date.

      California can now fairly easily and economically replace both coal and nuclear with wind and solar power. And it’ll actually be far less expensive in the long run.

      Laurence

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