Wednesday, August 03, 2016

New York State Has a Plan to Rescue Nuclear Power

Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station is a nuclear power plant with two nuclear reactors located in the town of Scriba, approximately five miles northeast of Oswego, New York, on the shore of Lake Ontario. (Photograph Credit: Constellation Energy Nuclear Group) Click to Enlarge.
With the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York’s Public Service Commission enacted a landmark Clean Energy Standard that calls for propping up the state’s ailing nuclear plants with a multibillion-dollar subsidy.  It’s the most significant step yet by a state government to rescue nuclear power providers, which have been buffeted by low-priced electricity from natural-gas plants.  

Under the new plan, ratepayers will subsidize the operation of three of the state’s four nuclear power stations through 2029, providing funding that will average about half a billion dollars a year and could total $7.6 billion.  The plan also aims to slash carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent and produce half the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Experts at a Department of Energy conference on the future of nuclear power in May concluded that as many as 20 nuclear plants in the United States could shut down over the next decade, and their closure could dramatically increase emissions of greenhouse gases.

Arguments over the future of nuclear power in this country have escalated in recent years as five plants have retired before reaching the end of their planned lifetimes and operators have announced plans to shutter at least seven more.

Nuclear power provides nearly 20 percent of U.S. electricity and 63 percent of its zero-carbon power.  Opponents of nuclear power, including the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Sierra Club, maintain that both fossil fuel and nuclear energy sources can be fully replaced by renewables, primarily wind and solar.

Nuclear advocates, meanwhile, point out that retired nuclear plants tend to be replaced by natural gas.  Carbon emissions in California, for instance, rose by nearly 11 million tons a year after the closure of the San Onofre plant in June 2013, according to the Breakthrough Institute, a San Francisco-based research organization that supports nuclear power to limit climate change.  Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility, plans to shut down the Diablo Canyon plant, California’s last remaining nuclear power station, when its current operating licenses expire in 2024 and 2025 unless the state steps in with new funding.

Read more at New York State Has a Plan to Rescue Nuclear Power

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