Unexpected reaction

From the Economist:

The nuclear industry got an unexpected boost from Barack Obama in his State of the Union address last month. The president pledged to build a “new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants”. On February 1st he followed that up in his proposed budget for 2011 by tripling to $54 billion the value of loans for new nuclear plants the government is offering to guarantee. Elsewhere, too, prospects for the business look good: the United Arab Emirates (UAE) completed a tender for four nuclear plants in December, Vietnam is planning a similar deal this year and many other countries, from Italy to Indonesia, are hoping to build new reactors soon.

Yet the $40 billion contract in the UAE, won by a consortium led by Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), South Korea’s largely state-owned electricity monopoly, has caused consternation among the six big firms that have dominated the industry for decades: GE and Westinghouse of America, Areva of France, and Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan. Russian and Chinese firms hope to follow the Koreans’ lead. Suddenly the incumbents are confronted by emerging-market “national champions” with the full backing of their governments—an invaluable asset in a high-liability business like nuclear power.

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Straight Answers

From the Rutland Herald:

The Douglas administration has been forced to take a tough line on false statements coming from the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and on the problems arising from the underground pipes now leaking radioactive tritium into the groundwater in Vernon.

Entergy Nuclear, the owner of Yankee, responded to the furor last week by removing Jay Thayer from his post as vice president of operations for Vermont Yankee. Thayer is the Entergy executive who told the Legislature that Vermont Yankee did not have underground pipes. His statements were part of what Vermont regulators call a pattern of deceit practiced by Entergy about the plant.

But removing Thayer is not enough, said Vermont officials. Getting rid of one person is "tokenism," according to Public Service Commissioner David O'Brien. The company must do more to get its act together before Vermonters can trust what it says.

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KI Tablets Available

The winter snow storm that occurred on February 7-8, 2010, prompted numerous inquires to the EFMR office about the
availability of KI (Potassium Iodide) in the event of a nuclear evacuation. EFMR has recently secured additional stocks of KI
tablets. If you’re interested in receiving KI tablets, please contact EFMR directly at #717-541-1101 or e-mail a request to lechambon@comcast.net

Entergy finds huge radiation jump

From the Times Argus:

The Department of Health said late Friday that Entergy Nuclear workers found the highest concentrations yet of the radioactive isotope tritium at Vermont Yankee, this time in a drainage pit close to a highly contaminated groundwater monitoring well.

William Irwin, radiological health chief for the Department of Health, said the pit tested positive for 2.7 million picocuries per liter of tritium.

While the radioactive water was not in groundwater and was inside the reactor complex, Irwin said the high tritium levels were almost identical to the levels of tritium found in reactor cooling water, indicating a leak.

Irwin said it was possible the underground piping that drains into the pit or moves the water to a system for treatment could be leaking.

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Rebuilding trust at Yankee

From the Brattleboro Reformer:

Does Entergy really think that reassigning Vermont Yankee site vice president Jay Thayer to another position in the company is enough to restore people’s trust? Even Department of Public Service Commissioner David O’Brien on Wednesday called the move "tokenism."

Electric rate cap expiration to impact economy

From the Daily American:

Pennsylvania electricity rates are anticipated to increase when rate caps come off in January, which has raised some concerns.

Gene Stilp, the director for Harrisburg-based Taxpayers and Ratepayers United, said the increases could cause job losses and economic hardship for residents across the state.

“The economic impact hasn’t been factored in,” Stilp said.

SEF Energy Education Session

Cost an obstacle to building reactors

From the Arizona Republic:

Nuclear reactors' hefty price tag is the biggest obstacle to building more, the nation's top nuclear regulator said Monday.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said that permitting new reactors could take four years or more, and that storing the waste is not a pressing concern, but that paying for the new reactors remains a significant concern for most utilities.

The best estimate for a new reactor's price tag is about $10 billion, he said.

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U.S. Department FY 2011 Budget Request

PPL Barred From Socializing The Costs Of Its New Time Of Use Program

Sustainable Energy Fund

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (February 1, 2010) Eric Epstein of Harrisburg, a statewide consumer advocate and Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) successfully challenged PPL’s proposed Time of Use Tariff.

Mr. Epstein and Sustainable Energy Fund intervened independently on behalf of electric customers last fall alleging among other things that PPL’s proposed Time of Use program unjustly enriched electric generation suppliers like PPL Energy Plus, shifted costs to non participating customers, unfairly excluded low income customers from the program, promoted unfair competitive practices and lacked real economic benefit for PPL ratepayers. Although the Public Utility Commission voted 5-0 on Thursday to allow PPL’s voluntary Time of Use Program, it also approved a motion by Chairman Cawley that among other things prohibits PPL from recovering more than $4,000,000 in proposed expenses for administration and advertising from customers who purchase their electricity from a competitive electricity supplier.

“This action taken by the Commission directly addressed our concerns with the cost effectiveness of this program, the unfair competitive practices and exclusion of certain customer groups like low income and renewable energy”, stated John Costlow, Director of Technical Services for Sustainable Energy Fund.

Epstein stated “The PUC correctly halted PPL’s discriminatory plan that unfairly excluded customers, penalized hostage ratepayers and cross subsidized PPL Energy Plus.” He welcomed the decision as a victory for rate payers and hailed the PUC’s decision as a landmark and potential precedent, stating “The PUC made it clear that it will not allow ratepayers to finance and brand ill conceived marketing schemes.”

The motion stated in part that “PPL has provided inadequate information on the magnitude of the Company’s ‘educational’ expenditures proposed under the Consumer Education Plan, failed to incorporate the costs related to the proposed EE&C advertisement plan, and failed to provide relevant information on other TOU program costs, consistent with our default service policy statement.” The motion also stated that “While this Commission does not apply the TRC test at the plan level, the Commission has rejected and will continue to reject, component program or measure level parts of EE&C plans that are clearly uneconomic so as to encourage utilities to refocus resources on more cost effective measures.”

Mr. Costlow stated “It is unusual for the SEF to oppose a plan that is supposed to decrease peak energy consumption as we have spent the last decade promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy but this is another bad plan by PPL, funded by the ratepayer. PPL needs to be accountable; they need to do the right thing for rate payers.”

Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) is a private nonprofit 501(C)(3) organization focused on reducing financial, educational and regulatory barriers to a sustainable energy future. SEFs educational programs such as the award winning Solar Scholars® create an understanding and passion for sustainable energy in leaders of today and tomorrow. To overcome traditional financial barriers the organization provides specialized loans and leases for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

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