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Subject: Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, Units 1 and 2 - Regulatory Audit Plan in Support of Relief Request 5RR-02 (EPID L-2023-LLR-0027)
 
ADAMS Accession No.:  ML23290A262
 
 
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NRC Meeting re Holtec SNF Storage Cask Design Violations: Oct 26, 2023 (9am EST)  Webinar Link:
 
 
The Holtec CBS PEC Presentation Slides 
 
Document Title:
Holtec CBS PEC Presentation Slides
Document Type:
Slides and Viewgraphs
Document Date:
10/25/2023

​​​​​

FRN on Radiological Survey and Dose Modeling of the Subsurface to Support License Termination
 
Document Title:
Federal Register Notice on Draft Interim Staff Guidance: Radiological Survey and Dose Modeling of the Subsurface to Support License Termination
Document Type:
Federal Register Notice
Document Date:
10/16/2023

SRS Watch news release, October 24, 2023 posted here:

https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/News-failed-German-spent-fuel-import-October-24-2023.pdf

Savannah River Site Watch
Columbia, South Carolina  USA

https://srswatch.org/
For Immediate Release
October 24, 2023

Contact: Tom Clements, SRS Watch, tel. 803-834-3084, srswatch@gmail.com

DOE’s Office of Hearings and Appeals Compels the Savannah River Site to Release Key Documents Related to Failed Decade-Long Efforts to Import Highly Radioactive Spent Fuel from Germany

Documents Reveal Frantic Interactions with Germany in Misguided Attempt to Import Highly Radioactive Waste to DOE’s Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina, for Processing and Dumping

Columbia, SC – Internal U.S. Department of Energy email communication reveals that efforts to keep alive a decade-long scheme to import highly radioactive German spent fuel to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina were unsuccessful and the effort was terminated by German authorities. The termination of the project has been celebrated by those who support clean-up at SRS of waste created as a result of production of plutonium and other materials for nuclear weapons.

Emails from 2022 and 2023, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the non-profit organization Savannah River Site Watch, clearly show DOE officials and the company aiming to ship the material, Edlow International, frantically working to keep the faltering project alive and that they lacked an understanding of the political situation in Germany against the export.  DOE originally failed to provide the emails to SRS Watch in response to a FOIA request but SRS Watch appealed the lack of an “adequate search” to DOE’s Office of Hearings and Appeals and won, compelling release of the emails.

If the project had gone forward, a large amount of irradiated graphite fuel stored in 152 casks could have been dumped at SRS with the inexplicable cooperation of the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), the very office engaged in clean-up at the site. If this misguided EM effort had gone forward clean-up of the site could have been significantly complicated and delayed.

The failure of the effort to import the nuclear waste to SRS is lauded as an environmental victory by the non-profit organization Savannah River Site Watch. Likewise, the project’s failure to develop a reprocessing technique to remove uranium from the irradiated graphite fuel is positive from a nuclear non-proliferation perspective.

“Boosters of the project were aiming to make financial hay from the scheme, which would have had the unacceptable outcome of more hard-to-manage nuclear waste being dumped at SRS,” said Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch. “We wish that to thank our German colleagues for their diligence in making sure the highly radioactive waste stays where it is currently located in Germany.”

The emails indicate that the media office at SRS was going to admit in a “comms plan” one of the reasons for termination of the project, but the explanation was quashed by a DOE official in headquarters who was desperately looking for a positive spin on the status of the failing project:

"The Department of Energy has decided to stop contract negotiations for technology development and the potential acceptance and processing of German graphite-coated spent nuclear fuel spheres at the Savannah River Site. Moving forward with this effort would be inconsistent with current priorities to accelerate mission completion, minimize risks, reduce costs, and reduce EM’s long-term liability at Savannah River. A number of outstanding contract issues remain, and negotiations with the German nuclear research corporation Jülicher Entsorgungsgesellschaft für Nuklearanlagen mbH (JEN) have reached an impasse with further talks unlikely to change the respective positions on these issues. DOE will continue to welcome missions at Savannah River consistent with its goals and priorities."

In one of the emails obtained by SRS Watch, and dated October 19, 2022, JEN confirmed they were the ones who terminated the project and informed SRS about the decision. Those reasons include: illegality of export of the material from Germany, a decision to build a new storage facility where the waste is now stored, implementation of policies to minimize the risky transport of the material and failure by the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) to develop a processing technique.

Consultation began in 2012 between DOE and German entities to export spent fuel from a long closed experimental gas-cooled reactor - the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Versuchsreaktor (AVR) - with research into processing of the nuclear waste being done by the Savannah River National Laboratory. The spent fuel, some of which contains U.S.-origin uranium, consists of about 290,000 uranium-impregnated irradiated graphite balls, stored in 152 robust Castor casks stored at the Forschungszentrum Jülich (Jülich Research Center, FZJ), located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) in western Germany. The spent fuel is currently managed by the government entity Jülicher Entsorgungsgesellschaft für Nuklearanlagen mbH (JEN) and should stay at Jülich until comprehensive federal plans are developed and implemented for spent fuel disposal and not trucked to a temporary storage site in Ahaus, Germany.

SRS Watch joins German anti-nuclear colleagues and in supporting construction of a new storage facility at Jülich, or upgrading of the current facility, and no transport of the spent fuel in questions away from that current storage site. For more information from German groups, see: https://www.westcastor.org/ and https://www.ausgestrahlt.de/blog/2023/10/12/atomm%C3%BCll-auf-abwegen/.

The recent emails obtained by SRS Watch and some other key documents are posted on the SRS Watch website:  https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/FOIA-German-document-list-on-SRS-Watch-Oct-23-2023.pdf.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit by SRS Watch and other non-profit groups in federal court in Columbia, SC demanding preparation of a “programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” (PEIS) by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for production of plutonium “pits” for new nuclear warheads continues.  In a October 19, 2023 website post - Lawyers for SRS Watch & Allies Deal Blow to DOE Challenge to Admission of Key Documents in Federal Lawsuit concerning New Plutonium “Pits” (Cores) for New Nuclear Warheads – the status of the case is explained:  https://srswatch.org/lawyers-for-srs-watch-allies-deal-blow-to-doe-challenge-to-admission-of-key-documents-in-federal-lawsuit-concerning-new-plutonium-pits-cores-for-new-nuclear-warheads/

###

1. DOE’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, successful ruling for SRS Watch in FOIA appeal, August 1, 2023: https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/FIA-23-0022-FOIA-appeal-order-August-1-2023.pdf

2. Two batches of emails obtained from the Savannah River Site via FOIA requests by SRS Watchsubsequent to the appeal victory concerning earlier “inadequate search”, September 11, 2023: 

https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/SME-William-Bates-Emails-rcvd-Sep-11-2023.pdf

https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/SME-Robert-Pierce-Emails-rcvd-Sep-11-2023.pdf

3. SRS initial response to SRS Watch FOIA request of September 15, 2023 related to involvement of private company Edlow International - was it formally or informally negotiating on behalf of DOE or not? https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/SRO-2023-01811-F-Clements-first-letter-Sep-18-2023-edlow.pdf

 
Centrus’ new Piketon plant is the first U.S. commercial plant to make fuel for advanced nuclear reactors that need high-assay, low-enriched uranium.
by Kathiann M. Kowalski  October 23, 2023
 
As an Ohio uranium enrichment plant opened this month, yet another study questioned whether nuclear power from small modular reactors can compete with other types of electricity generation. 
 
Centrus Energy’s new plant in Piketon produces high-assay, low-enriched uranium, or HALEU. The fuel will contain between 5% and 20% fissile uranium, or U-235, which is the range needed for various types of small modular reactors, or SMRs. The current fleet of large nuclear reactors uses fuel with up to 5% U-235.
 
Large nuclear plants have had problems competing with other types of electricity generation in recent years. Ohio’s House Bill 6 would have mandated ratepayer spending of more than $1 billion to subsidize the 894-megawatt Davis-Besse plant and 3,758-megawatt Perry plant in Ohio, for example. Lawmakers repealed that law’s nuclear subsidies after alleged corruption came to light.
 
Now the question is whether small modular reactors designed to produce up to 300 MW of electricity can compete better.
 
Huge gigawatt-scale nuclear plants can have economies of scale because their power output grows faster than increases in capital and operating expenditures.
 
“However, the extensive customization of many of the currently deployed reactors undercuts much of that economy,” said William Madia, a nuclear chemist and emeritus professor at Stanford University who is now a member of Centrus’ board of directors.
 
The lack of a standard design also makes it harder for large reactors to get replacement parts when needed. “Things like large-scale forgings are in short supply globally,” Madia noted.
 
In contrast, small modular reactors can be built in indoor factories and then sent to where they’ll be used. That avoids site-by-site mobilization costs, as well as weather problems that might interrupt construction. 
 
“But the real driver is standardized design,” Madia said. So eventually, production can take place on assembly lines. And that should produce its own economies.
 
All in all, “the capital cost for SMRs is much lower than GW-scale machines,” Madia said. Also, if the choice is between lower-cost modular reactors and huge ones, “many, many more utilities can afford a few billion dollars on their balance sheets. Very few can handle $10-plus billion.”
 
Facing competition
 
No small modular reactors are operating commercially in the United States yet.  
 
“Right now, if you’re looking to spend money on bringing new generation online, you have tech that you know works with wind and solar and storage,” said Neil Waggoner, federal deputy director for energy campaigns at the Sierra Club.
 
An analysis published this month by the journal Energy estimated the levelized cost of electricity, or LCOE, for different types of small modular reactors. The LCOE basically reflects the average costs for producing a unit of power over the course of a generation source’s lifetime. 
 
Small modular reactors “seem to be non-competitive when compared to current costs for generating electricity from renewable energy sources,” the Energy study found.
 
Comparing intermittent resources like wind and solar to “dispatchable resources with small land footprints is a flawed exercise,” said Diane Hughes, vice president of marketing and communications for NuScale Power. Nuclear energy from small reactors requires little new transmission infrastructure, she added. So, “the cost per plant is comprehensive in a way that one solar array or wind farm is not.”
 
Yet the Energy study found renewables would still be more competitive even with added system integration costs that would roughly double the levelized cost of electricity.
 
“These costs can stem from batteries, but there are also many other means of flexibility that can be used,” said Jens Weibezahn, one of the study’s corresponding authors and an economist at the Copenhagen Business School’s School of Energy Infrastructure.
 
Weibezahn’s group got similar results when they compared the projected market value for energy from small modular reactors with the weighted market value for renewable electricity at the time of generation. Costs for dealing with radioactive waste “will add a significant additional economic burden” on nuclear technologies, he added.
 
March 2023 study by Colorado State University researchers suggested the economics for SMRs wouldn’t be dramatically better than those for large reactors. The researchers also found the levelized costs of electricity for different types of small modular reactors would be substantially higher than that for natural gas power plants without carbon capture.
 
However, “natural gas plants release tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases which engender societal and environmental costs,” said the paper in Applied Energy. Adding in carbon capture increased the estimated levelized cost of energy for the natural gas plants to the general range for the small modular reactors.
 
Commercial methane-fired power plants with carbon capture are not yet running at scale. The American Petroleum Association has objected to proposed rules that might effectively require such equipment.
 
How things will shake out in the future is unclear, said Jason Quinn, who heads the sustainability laboratory at Colorado State University and is the corresponding author for the March study. But, he added, “typically decisions are driven on economics, and current SMR estimates show them not to be a commercially viable solution as compared to other technologies.” 
 
The row of white columns are centrifuges that began running this month to produce HALEU at the new Centrus plant in Piketon, Ohio. Open space in the plant can hold hundreds more centrifuges when commercial production ramps up. Credit: Centrus Energy Corp. / Courtesy
 
SMRs coming to Ohio
 
For now, initial production at the Centrus HALEU plant will meet a commitment to the Department of Energy. Centrus expects the plant will employ up to 500 direct employees when it moves to full-scale commercial production, said Larry Cutlip, vice president for field operations. Supporting industries will provide work for another 1,000 to 1,300 people. And all those workers could stimulate economic activity for roughly eight times as many jobs, he added.
 
Centrus already plans to supply HALEU fuel to TerraPower and Oklo, Inc. Each company has its own individual SMR design and is working with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission toward having the designs certified. 
 
Oklo plans to build two sodium-cooled fast reactors in Piketon near the Centrus’s HALEU production plant. Each of the SMRs could supply up to 15 MW of electricity and more than 25 MW of clean heating, said spokesperson Bonita Chester.
 
Plans call for the SMRs to supply some carbon-free electricity for the Centrus facility. Other possible customers for electricity include commercial, industrial or municipal entities. 
 
“As for the clean heating output, we envisage potential industrial partners and applications for district heating systems,” Chester said. 
 
The ability to sell or otherwise use the heat as well as electricity could potentially lower the average costs.
 
“We are committed to ensuring that our electricity and heating output remain competitive with other forms of energy generation,” Chester added. “Our technology benefits from simplified design and cost-effective materials, making it an economically effective option.”
 
NuScale plans to deploy a dozen 77-megawatt small modular reactors in Ohio and another dozen in Pennsylvania for Standard Power data center projects by 2029. Those pressurized water reactors can use low-enriched uranium and won’t need HALEU, Hughes noted.
 
Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk expects HALEU and small nuclear reactors that rely on it will be competitive.
 
“People appreciate the importance of baseload power, and I think that will be even more important as we further decarbonize the electricity economy,” Turk said. That will appropriately include more wind and solar energy, “but it’s good to have that baseload power to make it all work in the end.”
 
Electricity from SMRs will be “a real source of energy security and energy resilience,” Turk added. “You need diversification, but you need to have a variety of different inputs going into the system.”
 
“Nuclear certainly can provide baseload, but it does this at a cost significantly higher than an integrated renewables-based system,” Weibezahn said.
 
A bigger question may be whether there will be enough carbon-free electricity. 
 
The Department of Energy estimates the United States will need to triple nuclear energy production to about 300 GW by 2050. That growth will be driven by advanced nuclear technologies, much of which will use HALEU.
 
“If we want to meet our climate goals and meaningfully reduce carbon emissions, we need all sources of clean energy, including wind, solar and nuclear energy,” said Jess Gehin, associate lab director for nuclear science and technology at Idaho National Laboratory. “Current projections show that we cannot meet our climate goals without nuclear energy.”
 
 
Related
 
August 11, 2023
 
October 20, 2021
 
June 6, 2023

 

 

·       Governor's strong signal adds to the problems facing Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good

·       It's a good step, but Cooper must keep the pressure on to stop Duke's climate-wrecking fracked gas and nuclear expansion

·       This shows that escalating public pressure can move Cooper toward becoming a climate protector (see our note in red below)

Please thank the Governor and urge him to do all possible to change Duke Energy!

Visit StopDukeEnergy.com

Read NC WARN's news release:

NC Governor Criticizes Duke Energy’s Pro-Carbon Plan

Breaking rank with the corporate giant is a good first step but Cooper must do much more to become a climate protector

We appreciate Gov. Roy Cooper for criticizing Duke Energy leaders’ Pro-Carbon Plan as reported today by The News & Observer. The article’s headline is Cooper criticizes Duke Energy carbon reduction plan, calls for more renewable resources.

Cooper’s voice is yet another headwind faced by Duke Energy executives. For the Governor to realize Duke’s plans are climate- and community-disastrous is a first step toward North Carolina making the major course correction needed to stop making the climate crisis worse.

But Gov. Cooper can and must do much more. Hopefully, his statement is more than a one-time gesture intended to blunt the growing criticism of him being aligned for years with Duke Energy instead of climate scientists and the public.

Crucially, has the Governor conveyed his criticism directly to Duke Energy deciders? If so, did he press them to dramatically change course and quit greenwashing the public?

We urge the Governor to build upon this step by using his strong public voice to help North Carolinians understand the climate challenge that’s upon us and the urgent need to turn away from Duke Energy’s high-risk, dangerous and false “solutions”.

Perhaps Cooper’s statement will finally begin to roll back Duke Energy’s ability to pass-off its “expand fracked gas and nukes while stifling renewables” as climate protection.

North Carolina sorely needs a truly open debate about our climate and energy path – not the secretive, rigged Utilities Commission process dominated by Duke Energy’s monopoly influence.  

We again call on the Governor to initiate an unprecedented, open process that stops locking out consideration of genuine climate solutions such as local solar-plus-storage – the fastest, cheapest and most equitable way North Carolina can meet the Governor’s climate goals.

We appreciate him calling on the Utilities Commission to force Duke to change. We urge him to demand that the commission stop rubber-stamping Duke Energy’s wishes and helping the giant monopoly cheat the public out of a fair consideration of the state’s path forward. 

NC WARN has laid out a number of specific steps the Governor can use to become a climate protector. We are eager to convert our long-running criticism of Roy Cooper into praise.

Please circulate this alert. Also, see NC WARN’s hard-hitting statewide TV/on-line ads at StopDukeEnergy.com.

---------------------------

Below is the article in the News & Observer and Charlotte Observer:

Cooper criticizes Duke Energy carbon reduction plan, calls for more renewable resources

By Adam Wagner, News & Observer

Gov. Roy Cooper this week detailed concerns about Duke Energy’s proposal to reduce emissions, saying the state’s largest electric utility is looking toward new nuclear when it should instead be leaning into solar and wind. 

“Duke needs to do more to make sure that we get to our goals, and I hope the Utilities Commission will force them to go there,” Cooper said during an event Wednesday at Schneider Electric’s RaleighHub in Morrisville. The remarks were the first time Cooper has publicly addressed Duke’s updated plans to reduce carbon dioxide.

A 2019 law requires Duke to slash carbon dioxide emissions 70% from 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. Those goals are guided by plans the N.C. Utilities Commission must approve every two years.

Environmental and renewable energy advocates criticized Duke’s second iteration of the plan, which was introduced this summer, arguing it relies too little on solar energy and offshore wind and too much on natural gas over the short-term and hydrogen and nuclear technologies that haven’t been built at scale to meet the 2050 goal.

Under the 2019 law, Duke’s resource plans must consider reliability and affordability in addition to the reduction of carbon emissions.

Duke has said any energy generation like solar or wind that depends on the weather must be balanced with a source of power that can be called upon when necessary such as a natural gas powerplant, battery storage or nuclear reactor. That balancing can account for both new resources, as well as those Duke is already using to generate power.

In response to Cooper’s remarks, Duke Energy spokesman Bill Norton said, “Governor Cooper is right that we need more resources to accommodate the exponential growth North Carolina is enjoying, which is why we’re focused on an ‘all of the above’ strategy to deliver reliable, affordable power that’s available 24/7 for our customers.”

Continue reading

Please support NC WARN's climate and energy justice work!

Donate here!

 

U.S. Plan to Put Weapons-Grade Uranium in a Civilian Reactor Is Dangerous and Unnecessary

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/u-s-plan-to-put-weapons-grade-uranium-in-a-civilian-reactor-is-dangerous-and-unnecessary/

The Biden administration’s intention to use dozens of bombs’ worth of highly enriched uranium as fuel in a new civilian reactor sets a dangerous precedent, one that could help our foes get nuclear weapons

Credit: Bim/Getty Images

Perhaps the easiest path to making a nuclear weapon, for a country or terrorist seeking one, is to extract a sufficient amount of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium (HEU) from the nominally peaceful fuel in a research reactor, the small type operating in dozens of countries, including many that lack larger nuclear power plants. According to the late Manhattan Project physicist Luis Alvarez, even high school students “would have a good chance of setting off a high-yield explosion simply by dropping one half of the material onto the other half.” That is why the U.S. nearly half a century ago initiated a program to gradually eliminate such dangerous fuel from these facilities. Now, however, in a stunning reversal, the U.S. Energy Department is actually increasing the likelihood of that deadly scenario by supplying a new research reactor with enough weapons-grade uranium for a sizable nuclear arsenal.

The danger is not just hypothetical. In 1990, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein secretly ordered a crash program to extract HEU from his foreign-supplied research reactor fuel to make an atomic bomb—after his invasion of neighboring Kuwait—but a U.N. intervention fortunately evicted his troops and interrupted the plot before it could succeed.

To prevent such grave risks, the U.S. government since the 1970s has spearheaded an international collaboration to eliminate HEU from research reactors by substituting low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, the type used in nuclear power plants that is unsuitable for nuclear weapons. (LEU is enriched below 20 percent in the chain-reacting isotope uranium-235, making it unsuitable for nuclear weapons, whereas HEU fuel in research reactors typically is enriched to 93 percent, the same as in U.S. nuclear weapons.) The U.S.-led program has helped contain nuclear proliferation and prevent nuclear terrorism by converting 71 reactors in the U.S. and abroad from HEU to LEU fuel, even tiny ones containing only one kilogram of HEU. The U.S. has not built an HEU-fueled civilian reactor since the 1970s, and no other country has done so since the 1990s.

However the Biden administration intends to violate this nonproliferation policy by supplying over 600 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium—enough for dozens of nuclear weapons—to a privately owned experimental research reactor that would be largely funded by the U.S. government. If the project proceeds, other countries will insist on violating the policy too, refusing to accept a double standard. Whether they import HEU from the United States, purchase it from Russia or build their own enrichment plants, the risks of nuclear proliferation and terrorism will grow again.

The U.S. government is providing $90 million of the $113 million cost to build the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE), which aims to research the potential for a commercial version known as the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor. Although no such power plants exist, they would in theory employ a loop of liquid fuel—uranium dissolved in hot salt—to both sustain the fission reaction and transport the resulting heat. Advocates claim that using liquid fuel, instead of the solid fuel now used in all nuclear power plants, would be a more efficient way to produce electricity and heat for industrial uses. This is not an entirely new concept. In the 1960s, a similar Molten Salt Reactor Experiment was tried but largely failed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory—partly in consequence of the corrosive combination of salt, high temperature and radiation—and it left a particularly nasty radioactive waste problem that still persists. Six decades later, the Energy Department has decided to throw good money after bad.

The technical tweak of the MCRE is to utilize “fast” (high-energy) neutrons rather than the “thermal” (lower-energy) neutrons used in all U.S. nuclear power plants and the 1960s experiment. Fast neutrons facilitate the fission of some radioactive, human-made elements produced in reactors and so can reduce slightly the long-lived radioactivity of the nuclear waste created. But fast neutrons are much less able to induce fission in uranium-235, which is essential for the chain reaction to power the reactor. So, the fuel needs a larger percentage of this isotope, entailing higher uranium-235 enrichment than the 4 percent enriched LEU typically used in nuclear power plants.

However, molten salt fast reactors such as the proposed MCRE do not require HEU. This fact is undisputed because both the Biden administration and its private partners acknowledge that a commercial version, if ever built, would use LEU fuel.

So, if the reactor could use LEU fuel, why is the Biden administration funding an HEU version that would violate U.S. nonproliferation policy?

The last time that shortsighted U.S. officials planned to build an HEU-fueled research reactor, in the early 1990s, “opposition to the use of highly-enriched uranium in the reactor's core led to its cancellation” by President Bill Clinton. The only question is whether Joe Biden will again demonstrate such U.S. leadership, or gratuitously undermine one of the world’s most successful nuclear nonproliferation programs.

This is an opinion and analysis article, and the views expressed by the author or authors are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Alan J. Kuperman is associate professor and coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, and author of a history of HEU minimization policy.
Westinghouse executive gets off light after cooperating in Summer nuclear fraud case
October 18, 2023
 
PHOTO: US NRC
 
Carl Churchman, the former Westinghouse executive manager of the abandoned Virgil C. Summer nuclear power construction project in South Carolina, was sentenced in federal court on October 17, 2023 for his role the colossal nuclear financial scandal. Churchman had entered a plea of “guilty” in June 2021 for lying to the FBI investigators in an effort to cover up the nearly $10 billion fraud committed by SCANA Corporation on the South Carolina Public Service Commission and the state’s electricity ratepayers. Mr. Church was facing a five-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine before he decided to instead cooperate and turn over evidence to federal prosecutors. As a result of Mr. Churchman’s cooperation, his October 17th sentencing was reduced to one year of probation and 15-months under monitored home detention.
 
Two senior executive officers with SCANA Corp, Kevin Marsh, former Chief Executive Officer and Stephen Byrne, former Senior Vice President, were both indicted on fraud charges in connection to the V.C. Summer nuclear project by the United States Department of Justice, District of South Carolina.  Mr. Marsh was found “guilty” of “intentionally” defrauding the state and its ratepayers of billions of dollars and sentenced in 2021 to two years in federal prison.  An apologetic Mr. Byrne was also found “guilty” of fraud and sentenced  in 2023 to 15 months in federal prison.
 
Another Westinghouse Electric executive, Jeffrey Benjamin, a former Senior Vice President for the Westinghouse Electric Corps’ two-unit AP1000 advanced pressurized water reactor project was also indicted on in 2021 by the US Department of Justice District of South Carolina on 16 counts of conspiracy and fraud charges following the financial collapse of the Westinghouse AP1000 construction project at the Summer nuclear power construction project. Mr. Benjamin pleaded “not guilty” to all federal charges and on August 3, 2023, a federal judge dismissed all chargesbecause electric ratepayers of the utility that lost billions of dollars on the project were improperly allowed on the grand jury that indicted Benjamin. While the federal judge ruled in the Benjamin case  that prosecutors could file a new indictment against Benjamin, no new indictment has yet been pressed by the government. 
Clarion Energy Content Directors
10.19.2023

Xcel Energy is asking developers to submit proposals for approximately 1,200 megawatts of new wind projects.

The utility is seeking projects located in southwest Minnesota that would be commercially operable by the end of 2027. Xcel Energy said these new wind resources, combined with solar and energy storage projects, would help replace the capacity of the coal-fired Sherco plant in Becker.

The transition is part of the company’s Upper Midwest Integrated Resource Plan, approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in 2022.

The Sherco site plays an important role in Xcel Energy’s plan to cut emissions. The utility has proposed a transmission line that would deliver 2,000 MW of renewable energy to the grid at Sherco.

In April 2023, the company broke ground on a 710 MW solar project near the coal plant site. Once complete, the project would fully replace the first Sherco coal unit, which is scheduled to retire by the end of the year.

The company has also received state approval on a long-duration battery storage pilot project at Sherco.

PPL Electric Utilities could receive $49.5 million in federal funding for its $99 million Grid of the Future infrastructure project. 

The Allentown-based utility said today that its project application was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to potentially receive the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funds. It was selected through the nationally competitive Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) program.  

The Grid of the Future project includes a combination of hardware and software components that work together to deliver grid flexibility to the transmission and distribution systems and provide customer benefits, including increased reliability and resiliency while advancing an affordable clean energy transition, PPL Electric said. 
 
Over the next several months, PPL Electric said it will work with the DOE Grid Deployment Office on the terms of its plan to secure the pending grant. 
 
“The Grid of the Future project builds on over a decade of success in self-healing smart grid innovation,” said President of PPL Electric Utilities Christine Martin. “This funding will allow us to accommodate a rapidly evolving electric grid balancing strong resiliency, low customer costs, and high reliability, all while embracing two-way power flow from distributed energy resources.”   
 
PPL Electric’s Grid of the Future project recommended by the DOE will:  
  • Prevent and shorten power outages through the addition of intelligent grid devices, sensors and automation on single-phase and underground networks. 
  • Improve system reliability and reduce maintenance costs through predictive failure monitoring technology. 
  • Provide real-time visibility into the grid to identify outages, changes in customer demand and fluctuations in distributed energy resources to automatically reroute power and safely balance the flow of power on the grid.
  • Enable increased connections of distributed energy resources and electric vehicle adoption on the grid through IT enhancements using artificial intelligence and machine learning.  
“Across PPL, we’re focused on creating utilities of the future that are agile, innovative and technology-enabled to drive additional value for customers and shareowners and support a reliable, affordable clean energy transition,” said PPL President and Chief Executive Officer Vincent Sorgi. “As we execute our vision, we’re pleased to take advantage of this unique funding opportunity to create savings for our customers and strengthen grid resiliency.” ​​​​​​​

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