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Sustianable Energy Fund

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (March 9, 2010) Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) successfully challenged PPL’s proposed Time of Use Tariff.

Sustainable Energy Fund intervened on behalf of electric customers last fall alleging that PPL’s proposed Time of Use (TOU) program unjustly enriched electric generation suppliers like PPL Energy Plus, shifted program costs to non participating customers, unfairly excluded low income customers, promoted unfair competitive practices and lacked real economic benefit for PPL ratepayers. In its filing, PPL proposed to charge non‐participating customers to fund the discount received by customers switching loads to off‐peak periods.

PPL’s proposed Time of Use program offers higher rates for electricity consumed during “on‐ peak” periods and lower rates for electricity used during “off‐peak” periods. Essentially, customers who shift usage from “on‐peak” periods when it cost more to generate electricity to “off‐peak” periods when it cost less would reduce their bill. For example, a homeowner could set the dishwasher to run at bedtime instead of during the mid‐afternoon peak period.

“We are supportive of Time of Use Rates where the savings result from electricity generators providing time varying rates” stated John Costlow, Director of Technical Services for SEF. “PPL’s proposal asked for non participating customers to foot the bill. It is like the grocer giving the customer in front of you a dollar off then adding that dollar to your bill.”

In its final order and opinion issued on March 9, 2010 the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission found PPL’s proposal “unjust and unreasonable.” The order directed PPL to modify the program to allow participation by renewable energy, “On‐Track” and net metering customers it previously excluded; questioned the cost‐effectiveness of the program; and prohibited PPL from collecting more than $4 million dollars it proposed to spend for education and marketing costs. In addition, the PUC directed PPL to “absorb any costs of the TOU program that are the result of lost or decreased revenues due to reduced or shifted demand.”

Eric Epstein from TMIA 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 ratepayers and hailed the PUC’s decision as a landmark that could potentially set a precedent, stating, “The PUC made it clear that it will not allow ratepayers to finance and brand ill‐conceived marketing schemes.”

Mr. Costlow stated, “Local electric customers have supported PPL since the 1920s yet when their customers are hurting the most, PPL proposes a program that will reduce one customer’s bill and increase someone else’s bill.” He continued, “I don’t get PPL; last month PPL increased its dividends for shareholders and then three days later announced it is filing for a rate increase. Where is their corporate conscience?”

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. SEF’s 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.

For more information on Sustainable Energy Fund, visit www.thesef.org

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From the Coal City Courant:

A $1 million agreement between Exelon, the Illinois Attorney General and the State's Attorneys of Will, Ogle and Grundy Counties has officially resolved the environmental consequences of radioactive tritium leaks into the groundwater beneath the Braidwood, Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants. Just about half of that is already earmarked for environmental projects in and around the areas of the affected plants.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan made the announcement late last week, stating that Exelon will pay more than $1 million to resolve three separate civil complaints that she and the State's Attorneys filed jointly, including civil penalties totaling $628,000 and $548,000 to fund several Supplemental Environmental Projects in and around the communities where the power plants are located.

"It is imperative that Illinois' nuclear power plants are operated in a manner that does not endanger public health or the environment," Madigan said. "I appreciate the involvement and assistance of State's Attorneys Glasgow, Roe and Sobol in reaching these successful settlements. Through these actions, we are working to ensure that proper clean up has occurred and to put in place protections to prevent tritium leaks in the future."

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From CNN:

Several weeks ago, President Obama announced that $8 billion in government-loan guarantees would be made available to Southern Co. to begin construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia.

If built, it would be the first nuclear power plant constructed in the United States in almost 30 years. More importantly, this would be the first of what is expected to be many such projects initiated in coming years.

I am a big believer in the necessity for energy independence. I accept that we will all have to make some compromises in achieving that goal. I am willing to consider that nuclear power may have to be one piece of the plan we put together for how to break ourselves free from our dependence on foreign oil.

I would submit, however, that before we start building reactors we need to address another urgent matter. We need to make current reactors secure.

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From the Vermont Times Argus:

The controversy over the buried and underground pipes at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant will not go away.

In a sharply-worded letter, the Department of Public Service has criticized Entergy Nuclear's failure to fully disclose the status of its underground pipe system, saying that Entergy still hasn't given the state full information about the underground network, and said its response to date was "flawed and indefensible."

Entergy has not been "sufficiently responsive" to the state, according to a letter sent to Entergy by Sarah Hofmann, director of public advocacy for the department, and Jon Cotter, special counsel hired to aid Hofmann on Yankee's relicensing.

"From a practical perspective, petitioners' response is plain insufficient," Hofmann and Cotter wrote, adding that Entergy had "improperly narrowed the reach" of Act 189, the law passed by the Legislature in 2008, calling for an independent audit of key systems at the troubled plant.

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From the Patriot News:

Terrorism suspect Sharif Mobley apparently raised no red flags when he worked as a temporary laborer at Three Mile Island and five other nuclear plants between 2002 and 2008, said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Sheehan said that the FBI was investigating but that he was "not aware of any security-related concerns or incidents."

As a laborer, Mobley, 26, would not have had access to any sensitive or security-related areas or to radioactive materials, Sheehan said. His job would have been mostly menial tasks.

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From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The agency will need to determine what environmental and safety issues might come into play if thousands of tons of radioactive spent fuel needs to be kept in steel and concrete containers at reactor sites across the country for extended periods, NRC official Jack Davis said at an agency conference.

Speaking with reporters earlier this week, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said nuclear fuel can be stored safely for long periods, and the NRC will "work to see what that time frame is really like -- 100 years, 200 years, 400," according to the New York Times.

NRC staff has indicated that waste-containing canisters can remain robust for another 50-60 years. On Wednesday, Davis, who heads a high-level waste technical review team, said the prospect of keeping highly radioactive material contained for longer periods raises a new set of issues the agency will need to tackle.

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From CNN:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is working with the FBI to determine whether a New Jersey man suspected of being an al Qaeda member had access to any sensitive areas of the nuclear plants where he once worked, a commission spokeswoman said Friday.

The FBI is investigating Sharif Mobley, a 26-year-old from Buena, New Jersey, said Rich Wolf, a spokesman at the agency's Baltimore, Maryland, office. He wouldn't comment further.

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From Fox News:

Before he was rounded up in a sweep of suspected Al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen, Sharif Mobley was a laborer at five nuclear plant complexes in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Authorities are investigating whether he might have had any access to sensitive information that would have been useful to terrorists.

Edwin Lyman, a senior staff scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a watchdog of the nuclear power industry, said the case raises questions about security at the nation's nuclear power plants — even though Mobley has not been linked to any wrongdoing at any of them.

Some of the information used to give temporary workers like Mobley clearance comes from other nuclear power companies and is sometimes incomplete, Lyman said.

"The real question is: Was there information that the NRC or utilities could have seen that would have led to his disqualification?" Lyman asked.

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From The Hill:

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is asking the Government Accountability Office to review the permitting process for nuclear plants as others in his party appear poised to offer lucrative incentives to revive the industry. Among his questions is whether the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has adequately weighed the risks earthquakes and severe weather may pose to nuclear power plants.

Markey, who co-sponsored climate change legislation that passed the House last June, notes that nuclear power generation, “has been offered by some as one answer to the escalating crisis of global warming as the operation of nuclear power plants results in lower carbon dioxide output than burring carbon-based fossil fuels.”

Markey has a number of concerns about nuclear power, despite its low emissions. A “catastrophic accident” poses a greater safety risk than “many orders of magnitude more severe than any other type of power plant,” the letter states.

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From the Guardian:

On February 16, while President Obama was in Maryland announcing an $8.3bn taxpayer-backed loan guarantee for Southern Company to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, inspectors at the Vermont Yankee reactor were finding dangerously high levels of tritium, a radioactive cancer-causing chemical, in the groundwater near the plant.

The next week, the Vermont state Senate voted overwhelmingly to shut down Vermont Yankee when its current license expires in 2012.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R) called the timing of the nuclear loan guarantee announcement and the Vermont Senate's decision "ironic." More than just some coincidence, though, the Vermont Yankee situation demonstrates that from the mining of uranium ore to the storage of radioactive waste, nuclear reactors remain as dirty, risky, and as costly as they ever were. If President Obama's recent enthusiasm for nuclear reactors has led you to believe otherwise, you've bought in to the administration's greenwashing of nuclear.

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