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A New Shade of Green

By Sherry Listgarten

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About this blog: Climate change, despite its outsized impact on the planet, is still an abstract concept to many of us. That needs to change. My hope is that readers of this blog will develop a better understanding of how our climate is evolving a...  (More)

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Juggling Renewables

Uploaded: Apr 14, 2019
As California pushes to reduce emissions by 40% in the next twelve years, we are increasingly betting on clean electricity. We are electrifying vehicles, electrifying buildings, electrifying industrial processes. Okay, we’re not electrifying cows (unless you count lab-grown meat!), but you get the idea. And we are doing all this while disrupting the electricity sector itself.

You’ve heard the expression of building the plane while flying it? Now consider the case where:
- People keep bringing more and more luggage onto each flight, making the plane heavier and more crowded.
- The supplies you need to build the plane often don’t arrive when you need them.
- But you don’t have room to stockpile supplies, and delays are very costly.
- Random people on the flight are building parts of the plane, and you’re not entirely sure what they are doing.
- Your most critical partner, Plane Great Engineering, has filed for bankruptcy.
- And you are overwhelmed with documentation because ...
- You are being regulated by not one, not two, not three, but four different agencies, because no one wants the plane to crash (it has crashed before). And because ...
- The plane is the main way out of a burning city (which is why so many people are getting on it in the first place).

That is what it is like to operate a local electric utility these days in northern California. Fun times!

I had the opportunity to sit down with one of our fearless electric leaders to talk about how she makes it all work. Jan Pepper is CEO of Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), which since April 2017 has been the default provider of electricity for all of San Mateo County.


Peninsula Clean Energy CEO Jan Pepper, in her office in Redwood City.

PCE is managing to provide cleaner and cheaper power across the county, fund the construction of the largest solar plant ever built for a community utility, and invest millions of dollars in local programs to reduce emissions, all while ensuring affordable and reliable service and navigating a thicket of ever-changing regulations. How is this possible?

Community choice electricity (CCA) was pioneered by Marin County in 2010, after California added support for local control following the rolling blackouts, price gouging, and PG&E Bankruptcy #1 of 2001. PG&E fought the Marin effort tooth and nail, spending over $4 million to stir up opposition, even threatening to cut off power until they were told by the state to stand down. There are now 19 community choice programs in California, with more on the way.


Map of current, planned, and potential CCAs from https://cal-cca.org/cca-impact

The CCAs in Northern California already cover about 30% of the electricity requirements within the PG&E service area. They are expanding in other parts of California as well, with the largest one nearing one million accounts in the Los Angeles area. Regulators estimate that less than 15% of the state’s retail load will be served by traditional investor-owned utilities by the mid-2020’s, with the rest handled by CCAs, municipal utilities, and direct electricity purchases by industry.

The way that community choice electricity works is the local provider (PCE in this case) handles purchasing of the power (e.g., the energy sources), while the incumbent (PG&E in this case) handles transmission, metering, and billing.


How are PG&E and the other investor-owned utilities responding to this? Jan observed that in theory they shouldn’t mind, since they are supposed to pass through the charges of the electricity providers, making a profit only on those resources that they own and operate. In fact they are slowly getting past their initial opposition and coming around to being “poles and wires” companies. San Diego Gas & Electric recently stated its intent to leave the power procurement business, due in part to difficulties signing long-term contracts when its customer base is rapidly eroding.

Poles and wires is a tricky business these days, given wildfire risks, hacker intrusions, and a need to rapidly build out the grid. Is PCE taking over the easy side of the problem? I asked Jan to talk about the tricky aspects of energy procurement.

The biggest risks that PCE manages are around the energy contracts. Longer-term contracts mean stabler supply and prices, and allow for meaningful investments in clean power. But they can result in higher prices as renewables get cheaper. Plus there are other considerations. Newer providers may be subject to defaulting. Many renewable sources provide only intermittent supply. And more remote sources can be hampered due to congestion on the grid. With so many factors to balance, PCE aims for a diversity of providers, locations, contract terms, technologies, and more.


Matching supply to demand is also a challenge, given intermittent sources like wind and solar and evolving demand requirements due to the proliferation of rooftop solar and electric vehicles. Across California, a surfeit of solar power is causing an excess of power at midday and a steep demand ramp-up in the evening, both of which are difficult to manage. It has gotten to the point where we sometimes pay other states to take our excess midday solar energy.

You can see this effect in the chart below from California’s largest grid operator, CAISO. The aqua line shows how demand on a recent Wednesday in April was depressed mid-day due to “behind the meter” (e.g., rooftop) solar panels reducing the load. This effect is exacerbated by the large proportion of solar in our grid, since it’s not available in the evening. If you subtract our solar (and wind) supply, as shown in the purple curve, you can see that the remaining sources need to handle a very steep ramp-up in demand in the evening, which is challenging.


You can find this chart and all kinds of interesting real-time supply, demand, and pricing data at CAISO’s “Today’s Outlook”.

Jan’s goal for PCE’s demand-supply balance is an ambitious one, namely to “match generation with load on a time-coincident basis”. When generation and load are balanced on an annual basis, as has been the standard, it masks the difficulties we face keeping our grid clean 24x7. To achieve an ongoing balance, Jan would love to see more solar systems paired up with storage, and to have more visibility and control over distributed resources like “behind the meter” solar systems and even EV batteries. With sufficient customer incentives, these distributed resources could be part of a larger and more stable power system. This diagram shows how charging and discharging of a storage system can smooth out the electricity supply. Storage can effectively remove excess midday supply (in orange) and augment the evening supply (in blue).


From PCE’s 2018 Integrated Resource Plan

So-called “time of use” metering, which incentivizes customers to use electricity when it is more available (and cheaper), can also help.

I asked Jan how it is that PCE manages to be both cleaner and more affordable than PG&E. A primary reason is that PCE is a not-for-profit government agency that is locally managed, with specific goals around providing clean and affordable energy. PG&E, on the other hand, is a privately run organization with its own agenda and a responsibility to investors. It also helps that Jan has over thirty years of experience in/around the utility business. PCE’s purposeful goals and policies reflect a deep commitment to local, sustainable, and equitable clean power.


PCE invests in local programs designed to lower County emissions. To increase adoption of electric vehicles, they have announced plans to invest $15 million over the next four years in charging infrastructure across the county. To get more segments of the community involved, they are also launching a brand-new program with Peninsula Family Services to help lower income households adopt electric vehicles. With a $4000 incentive and help purchasing a used plug-in hybrid, it is a great opportunity for qualifying families to reduce their emissions. These are just some examples of their local programs.

Jan is very excited about the future of PCE, and their ability to reduce emissions locally and to foster the development and greening of CCAs across California. PCE itself aims to be carbon-free by 2021, and fully renewable by 2025.

If you live or work in San Mateo County, here are some ways that you can help:

- For a simple and effective way to lower your emissions, join thousands of other families and workplaces by opting into PCE’s ECO100 plan, which is 100% renewable and carbon-free. For most households, it costs just a few dollars more per month than PCE’s default plan, which is 50% renewable and 85% carbon-free. Then tell your friends and neighbors about it!

- Think about ways to decrease your electric load in the 4pm-9pm timeframe when solar power wanes and demand grows steeply.

- If you have rooftop solar, or are thinking of installing it, consider pairing it with storage to help distribute the impact on the grid.

- If you are a fan of electric vehicles, you can help lower-income households adopt a used one by making a donation or by volunteering. Reach out to Peninsula Family Services, PCE’s partner for their “DriveForward” initiative.

- If you are committed to clean energy for San Mateo County, consider volunteering for PCE’s Citizens Advisory Committee, which meets about once a month and serves as a liaison for the community. You can find more information here.

Upcoming posts will continue this discussion about local electric power. How is Palo Alto managing its portfolio? What are we doing about power outages? And why are some California representatives proposing that we centralize procurement and shift it away from these local programs? Weigh in below with any questions or comments you have about PCE or your local electric service more generally. I believe that clean, reliable, affordable, and safe electricity is one of the most important things we need to achieve to hit California’s 2030 emissions goal, so this topic is important!

Notes and References

1. PCE has an easy to read and informative “integrated resource plan” from 2017, explaining its portfolio and outlook.

2. SFGate’s article from 2010 reflects some of the tension between Marin’s community energy initiative and PG&E. And a subsequent article reflects the state’s pushback on PG&E.

3. Cal CCA has a good overview of community choice electricity, as does Lean Energy.

4. Silicon Valley Clean Energy is another local community choice energy provider, serving Mountain View, Los Altos, and ten other cities in Santa Clara County.

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Comments

 +   9 people like this
Posted by ;-), a resident of Woodside School,
on Apr 14, 2019 at 1:02 pm

Can't wait for the deniers to post: look at that picture! She's in an office! With lights! And probably HVAC! If she *really* cared, she'd be out in a tent!

Hypocrites! Actually using electricity! The nerve!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 14, 2019 at 4:42 pm

"If you subtract our solar (and wind) supply, as shown in the purple curve [of the net demand trend chart], you can see that the remaining sources need to handle a very steep ramp-up in demand in the evening, which is challenging."

Yes, and that will keep substantial carbon in the daily-averaged mix for the foreseeable future. We must also shape demand to better match supply in order to maintain grid stability. A chronically unstable grid would be a major repeating disaster. Anything from PCE on that?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Apr 14, 2019 at 7:51 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@Curmudgeon -- Yes, isn't that an interesting graph? This phenomenon, referred to as the "duck curve", has been known for years, and addressing it is a big focus across the state, both on the supply and on the demand side. That is why PCE is so explicit about their goal to "match generation with load on a time-coincident basis". Their 2018 Integrated Resource Plan is also explicit about their developing programs to support "demand-side energy management". They can come in several flavors, such as time-of-use incentives. The big investor-owned utilities are rolling that out this year or next, per CPUC mandate. EVs are an example of demand that can be flexible, with many chargers already supporting schedules.

Keep in mind that it is not only natural gas that can serve to even out load. Palo Alto, for example, is able to shift some of its hydropower to evening hours.

I will see if PCE is ready to share more of their thinking on these programs.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 14, 2019 at 9:46 pm

"Keep in mind that it is not only natural gas that can serve to even out load. Palo Alto, for example, is able to shift some of its hydropower to evening hours."

Right, but Palo Alto's load is only a fraction of a percent of the grid load, so its influence is negligible. We need gridwide carbon-free supply demand balancing solutions.

We must also remember that Palo Alto is a fortunate beneficiary of a not to be repeated hydropower opportunity with the WPA. Others cannot go where we lead.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Apr 15, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

I have a statement from PCE regarding their adoption of "time of use" (TOU) rates to help adjust flexible demand away from the busiest times.

"PCE has been working very closely with PG&E and all of the other active CCA's on the plans for TOU rollout starting in 2020. The current draft plan (which has not yet been approved) has PCE slated for TOU transition in September of 2021. The transition will be optional, if customers do not want to move to a TOU rate then can choose to stay with their current rate schedule, but initial analysis of PCE's residential customer base indicates that most customers will benefit from the new proposed TOU rates."

@Curmudgeon -- I'm not aware of anything particularly unique re the functionality of Palo Alto's hydro. I checked with the utility, and they weren't either, saying most large hydropower plants provide some flexibility. (There are various types of flexibility, and the plant that provides most of Palo Alto's hydropower is actually somewhat less flexible than normal.)

To be clear, I'm not saying that people will copy 1:1 what we are doing, or vice versa. Different areas have different resources. But I certainly hope we can all learn from each other, and this area is pretty far along wrt power emissions compared to many other places in the state/country. For example, PCE is helping Merced think through various options for their CCA. That is great.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 15, 2019 at 9:40 pm

"I'm not aware of anything particularly unique re the functionality of Palo Alto's hydro."

I'm not referring to throttling water flows. Palo Alto's hydro power comes from sources that serve only a defined set of customers Web Link. Cities not in those pools, such as those in PG&E's huge market, cannot follow Palo Alto's enlightened hydro lead. To make a real dent in emissions we need different options.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Apr 15, 2019 at 9:55 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Absolutely, we need a variety of options. Hydro isn't enough, though it is the second largest element of our state's power supply (around 15%), used by utilities across much of the state. Batteries are increasingly being deployed (especially in the south, where hydro is scarce), and the demand-side shaping is important. The state is pursuing many avenues to address this renewables gap without relying on fossil fuels (or nuclear).


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Waving Goodbye To The 21st Century, a resident of Woodside,
on Apr 16, 2019 at 9:47 am

We have gone off the grid so to speak.

(1) For heating (house & water) we burn wood as we have many trees on our private property.

(2) For lighting, we use kerosene lanterns & wall light fixtures.

(3) For refrigeration & appliances, we have solar panels. No power tools, just traditional hand tools except for a chainsaw.

With the exception of the solar panels, our life is relatively 19th century & we even have horse on a turnstile that periodically draws well water for irrigation purposes. Our regular water source is Hetch-Hetchy.

Sewage is by septic tank.

Our life in La Honda is relatively free from all of the suburban life hassles & overall reliance on PG&E nd/or city provided municipal services. We prefer things that way & thumb our noses to the everyday constraints of a modern conventional world.

About the only 'convenience' compromise we have made is in regards to transportation & field work...an old 1975 Ford F-250 4x4 & a small John Deere 3-wheel tractor.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Apr 16, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

I bought a house in the Central Valley that has a dozen solar panels installed on our roof. Even with the solar panels, our electric bill was over $1500 last year and we don't even use an exorbitant amount of electricity. We do laundry once a week and use the dishwasher every other day on average. We keep most lights off when not in use and try to be otherwise energy conscious.

I really don't understand why people are so opposed to Nuclear power as a clean alternative. It has been used very successfully in Europe for decades without incident (except for Russia which was foreseeable given how they handled things then).

Solar will never be sufficient as it requires huge tracts of land (deforestation anyone?) as well as clear skies. Rainy days affect the amount of energy produced just as much as cloudy days do, and we got almost 6 solid months of rain in the Central Valley this year.

Although, I can live simply if I choose, I do not want to be forced to do so just because some forms of energy production are now 'politically incorrect'. In my almost 55 years, I can remember each time the environmentalists told us 'the world is ending if we don't stop doing X in Y years. Everything from Mercury in the fish, to Acid Rain, to Global Cooling, to a Population over 6 Billion, to food shortages due to drought, yada, yada, yada.

That is not to say that there are not serious challenges or that SOME changes are not needed, but I refuse to be panicked into surrendering my rights and way of life based on a Phantom Menace. I've simply lived too long to be that stupid.

Nuclear, clean coal and responsibly extracted and refined oil are the answers, buttressed by the far more expensive and equally problematic solar and wind farms are the only way to produce sufficient energy for us to maintain our way of life AND to be able to AFFORD to continue to live it.


Jim Neal
Modesto, Ca
(Formerly Old Mountain View)


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Run With The Isotopes, a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove,
on Apr 16, 2019 at 12:36 pm

>> I really don't understand why people are so opposed to Nuclear power as a clean alternative. It has been used very successfully in Europe for decades without incident...

As long as there are adequate cooling facilities, nuke power is the way to go!

The entire world's submarine fleets can't be all that wrong.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Is Not For The Earthy Types, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Apr 16, 2019 at 1:25 pm

> Waving Goodbye To The 21st Century

We want to get back to the land as well.

The only problem is we cannot do it in Palo Alto...too many city ordinances.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Apr 16, 2019 at 10:46 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@Waving -- It sounds like you enjoy your lifestyle, and you care about the planet; thank you for the comment! I am guessing you don’t buy much stuff -- that is a big emissions win. If you want to step up your game, the most important thing to think about is how much you are driving. (I expect La Honda is not the easiest place for biking or transit.) The lion’s share of our emissions in California come from driving. That is one reason why per-capita emissions in cities are relatively low -- people use transit more and drive less. Is there is a way you can use a more efficient vehicle (motor scooter? used EV?) for much of your driving? For the wood you are burning, remember that forests absorb a lot of carbon, and deforestation is a major contributor to global warming. Using only dead wood would help.

@Jim -- A guy down the street from me also has that issue, where his electric bill is high despite his solar panels. I wish that kind of thing were easier to figure out… You are right that it’s easier to swap out infrastructure or technology than it is to change people’s habits, even when most people do believe in the science. That is why things like the Impossible Burger and clean electricity are so impactful: people don’t have to change, but “magically” they are living cleaner lives. And, yes, cost matters! One thing to know is that solar and wind are much cheaper than coal and new nuclear in the US, which is ultimately why they are growing like crazy. It’s the storage costs that need to come down to compete with cheap natural gas. So right now a combination of renewables and hydro, with natural gas to pick up the slack (plus existing nuclear), is winning out cost-wise. The challenge will be to shift from gas to other sources of affordable, flexible, clean power. In addition, people are trying to get a handle on the true costs of extracting and burning fossil fuels, which are not accounted for today. Lots of interesting problems, thanks for the comment!

@Isotopes -- Nuclear is an interesting question imo. It is not affordable or time-feasible to build new plants in the US. But could it be? Europe’s approach to nuclear is different. But we are developing other flexible energy technologies quickly.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Waving Goodbye To The 21st Century, a resident of Woodside,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 8:22 am

> If you want to step up your game, the most important thing to think about is how much you are driving.

We drive once a week...to Costco, gas station (top-off gas tank/2-3 gallons max.) & miscellaneous errands. Can't get or do much less than that!


> The lion's share of our emissions in California come from driving.

This 'lion's share' can be attributed to the daily COMMUTERS & shoppers. We are not 5+ day contributors to this pollution conundrum.


> Is there is a way you can use a more efficient vehicle (motor scooter? used EV?) for much of your driving?

The everyday COMMUTERS should be the ones considering EVs, electric scooters & what not. We burn roughly 156 gallons of regular unleaded gasoline per year which equates to about 800 driven miles per annum)...tell the COMMUTERS to get below that figure & then we'll talk.

Besides, a Prius or Volt isn't any good as a working ranch vehicle. Our well-tuned/unsmogged (except for the CA required PCV valve) 390 cubic inch old Ford pick-up does the job adequately & as aforementioned, we don't drive that much so no need to go OCD when it's everyone else who is polluting the globe on a daily & regular basis.

Our environmental conscious is clean. Can others say the same? Doubt it.



 +   5 people like this
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 9:53 am

>> I really don't understand why people are so opposed to Nuclear power as a clean alternative.

How clean is it? You want the waste stored here in Palo Alto? You may want to ask the folks in the Ukraine, and downwind through eastern Europe and into Germany about clean nuclear power.

Beyond that - they're just too expensive. And decommissioning is never counted in the cost, and it's prohibitive. Another significant cost is the private insurance company premiums.

Oh, wait... insurance companies will NOT insure nukes. Too dangerous/expensive a proposition. So it requires a government intrusion - corporate welfare. Even with government bailouts/corporate welfare, no one even wants to build them anyway. When's the last time a utility in CA said they really want to build one?

Might as well just subsidize renewables.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 12:24 pm

"How clean is it? You want the waste stored here in Palo Alto?"

Nobody's proposing that. So let's get real.

Chernobyl was a very bad amalgam of politics and engineering. The reactor was put into an unstable operating condition because the existence of that condition was a Soviet state secret which the plant operators were not allowed to know about. Yup. Result: as you described. Lesson: keep ideology away from critical systems. Here and now.

I used to oppose nuclear power because of the waste issue. But I've realized that placing nuclear waste in isolated managed repositories is far preferable to disposing CO2 into the atmosphere. And, wishful predictions notwithstanding, we're going to need substantial carbon-free sources to supplement wind and solar for a very long time. Nuclear is the only candidate.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 1:38 pm

> unstable operating condition because the existence of that condition was a Soviet state secret

And you also have some convoluted excuses for Fukushima and 3 mile island, undoubtedly.

> Nuclear is the only candidate

No. It is, however, the most expensive, with incredible costs and uncertain long term liabilities.

...but this is an academic discussion anyway, as even the industry isn't asking for any new plants.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 1:48 pm

> The entire world's submarine fleets can't be all that wrong.

Ha. There are at least 7 nuclear powered subs at the bottom of a sea. Does not count diesels that were armed with nukes at the bottom of various oceans.

... *that we know of*

Seven-plus nuke power plants sitting at the bottom of the ocean, some with dead sailors, others just polluting our oceans. Yeah. Nothing to see here.

Now, what was the comment about governments?


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Some Nuclear Sites Are Better Than Others, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 2:15 pm

Palo Alto might not be a good site for a nuclear reactor but there are other areas where one might be more appropriate.

Somewhere near the water is always best (i.e. Puerto Rico) or out in the boonies (i.e. Modoc County CA, Nevada desert etc.).

Some 3rd world countries in Africa, SE Asia, Malaysia would probably be OK as well.

As for nuclear-powered submarines...they are the only practical means of launching nukes from the ocean floor while remaining operational for an extended period of time.

While we all hope that will never happen why should the US Navy be confined to operating diesel-powered subs that require far more servicing intervals if the Russians are going to have nuclear submarines.

Why give them the edge?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Straw man. No one said the navy shouldn't use nukes where appropriate. That said, there is some discussion of returning to diesels: Web Link

Was just pointing out the false implication in the statement: The entire world's submarine fleets can't be all that wrong.

Also: fantastic NIMBYism - "let the poor host our nuke plants".


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 4:08 pm

"> unstable operating condition because the existence of that condition was a Soviet state secret

And you also have some convoluted excuses for Fukushima and 3 mile island, undoubtedly."

I'm disadvantaged in this exchange by my poor facility for fantasies. All I got is the facts. Read Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham and get some for yourself.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Gardens,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 4:24 pm

Nice. One narrative (though, yes, Higginbotham *does* get a lot of buzz for it) and you ignore Fukushima, nuke sub mishaps, exorbitant costs for nukes, decommissioning costs, the huge risks that keep insurers from touching them, etc..

But as you say: 'all I got is the facts'.

Fact: in a perfect world, nukes would be nice fantasy. Lastly, even the utilities aren't trying to build them. When's the last time they even asked to build one in CA?

Remember Bodega Bay in the 60's? Supposedly, the foundations are still there.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Waving Goodbye To The 21st Century, a resident of Woodside,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 5:55 pm

> Somewhere near the water is always best (i.e. Puerto Rico) or out in the boonies (i.e. Modoc County CA, Nevada desert etc.).

> Some 3rd world countries in Africa, SE Asia, Malaysia would probably be OK as well.

>> Also: fantastic NIMBYism - "let the poor host our nuke plants".

I read the earlier comment to infer providing fusion-generated electricity for those specific areas.

A nuclear reactor in Africa, Malaysia or SE Asia isn't going to do do Palo Alto much good. The same could probably said for Puerto Rico or Modoc County.

Personally speaking, I am somewhat apprehensive of anything nuclear. A nuclear reactor would also have to be sesmically & meteorologically safe. This is difficult to ensure as Mother Nature tends to trump human designs on a whim.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 7:49 pm

"Nice. One narrative (though, yes, Higginbotham *does* get a lot of buzz for it) and you ignore Fukushima, nuke sub mishaps, exorbitant costs for nukes, decommissioning costs, the huge risks that keep insurers from touching them, etc.."

One fact, one narrative.

We face the high probability that the planet will soon become uninhabitable if nothing is done. But nothing will be done because no proposed solution can be guaranteed perfectly free from every possible risk. Sacrifice the earth to save on insurance premiums. Ironic, no?

Like, maybe the captain of the Titanic drove straight into the iceberg because he feared complaints from his passengers about the sharp maneuvering needed to dodge it. Hmmm?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Apr 17, 2019 at 10:11 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Great comments! A few misc remarks...

@Waving -- You are right, 800 or so miles/year is not a lot of driving for the US! Are you really getting only 800 miles from 150 gallons of gas?? Though even if it were 3000 miles, that’s still pretty great. The average per driver in the US is around 13,000.

@Chernobyl -- You ask “When's the last time a utility in CA said they really want to build one?” Just to be clear, new nuclear plants have been banned in California since the 70’s. (I am guessing you know that, but others may not.) I spoke to a number of people working on electric power procurement for the Mashups post, and several of them seemed downright rueful at the loss of nuclear in California. That is not surprising -- it is very difficult to manage a low-carbon portfolio to the standards required by the state. But it did surprise me how upfront they were about it. There was also a technical point noted with the nuclear plant that was recently closed in southern California (SONGS) providing a lot of “reactive power” (which essentially pushes electricity through the grid), and difficulty finding a replacement for it. Nuclear power has some nice characteristics that are hard to match with a low-carbon resource, and they miss that. Utility people tend to be conservative. We are introducing a number of newer technologies very rapidly and at scale, which I expect some of them find more unnerving than the known that is nuclear.

@Waving -- “Personally speaking, I am somewhat apprehensive of anything nuclear.” You and many, many other people. Me too! It just seems scary and risky. But what some people say is that when you look at the numbers, it is far less dangerous than coal (for example), and also (they will claim) than gas and even wind (wind?!). Here is a fairly simple one of those arguments, but there are loads more. Do we dismiss these as scientists drinking their own kool-aid? Or do we trust scientists on scientific topics? And if we can’t do that, then where are we? FWIW, I think either way we are trusting scientists, it's just either the nuclear ones or the batteries-and-other-new-power-storage-tech ones.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Waving Goodbye To The 21st Century, a resident of Woodside,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 7:28 am

@Waving -- You are right, 800 or so miles/year is not a lot of driving for the US! Are you really getting only 800 miles from 150 gallons of gas?? Though even if it were 3000 miles, that's still pretty great. The average per driver in the US is around 13,000.

Good point. Went over the gas receipts and realized that we are getting about 11 miles per gallon in our old Ford 4x4. The other gas usage is for the tractor which is used semi-regularly around the property. Haven't figured out its miles per gallon gas consumption as it only goes 25-30 mph maximum speed & that would only be if it were traveling down a paved road (which we don't do). Going 30 mph in a tractor on irregular terrain would be potentially dangerous.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 9:41 am

SONGS should never have been opened.

Google San Onofre. It is literally *ON A BEACH*. Within miles of earthquake faults. 8 million people live within 50 miles.

Look at this wiki photo of it and tell me what you think - it's a Rorschach test, it tells us a lot about a person's thoughts. Web Link

re: CA law about nuclear waste - yes. The question was specifically asked about the utilities' desire. There is none. They get it.

Open the question: when was the last nuke in the US started? 50 years ago. We all want the benefits of nukes. The costs, dangers and long term liabilities are prohibitive.

> Sacrifice the earth to save on insurance premiums. Ironic, no?

False. This isn't sacrificing to "save" on insurance premiums. No insurance company will cover nukes due to liability. Make a list of US nukes covered by private insurance. I'll save you the time - it's zero.

> But nothing will be done because no proposed solution can be guaranteed perfectly free from every possible risk.

False dichotomy. Instead of shoveling absurd amounts of money into nukes and their inherent risks, use the money on renewables and developing required technologies (storage, etc..)

Those solutions are a *lot* closer than the dream of safe cheap nukes.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 9:46 am

To be clear - no new nukes since the 70's is about new plants, not adding reactors. Far more reactors have been taken down due to age and costs than the two added.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Nuclear Reactors Ideal In 3rd World Countries, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 2:05 pm

Nuclear power will be requisite for extended galactic travel & transcending certain time/space barriers. It's OK for maybe a 3rd world submarine fleet but probably not adequate power for advanced space travel.

That said, it's probably OK for 3rd world electrical power requirements as well. In addition to providing job opportunities for native-born technicians, all of the poorer inhabitants will now be able to watch TV, surf the internet & operate basic home appliances in addition to having a regular & consistent lighting source.

The only issue would be to ensure that the plutonium does not fall into the wrong hands as it is a well-known fact that most 3rd world countries are unstable & plagued by social/governmental unrest. That is why most people prefer not to visit those types of places.

We mustn't condemn the use us nuclear power. It is bad for making bombs but provides many other useful applications.

Either that or go back to hand/animal driven tools & appliances.

Rather than make isotopes an enemy, let's be friends!


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Nuclear Reactors Ideal In 3rd World Countries, a resident of Barron Park,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 2:08 pm

EDIT > It's OK for maybe a 3rd world submarine fleet but probably not adequate power for advanced space travel.

What I meant to say was that DIESEL POWER is probably OK for a 3rd world submarine fleet!

To allow them anything more would be dangerous & irresponsible.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by eileen , a resident of another community,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 2:47 pm

Is nuclear fission worth exploring?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 3:32 pm

"Those solutions are a *lot* closer than the dream of safe cheap nukes."

I wish you were right.

Here's an exercise for you. Take away everything but solar and wind generation. Calculate how much energy must be stored in batteries to supply California for a week. Express your answer in kilotons TNT equivalent. Show your work.

Ever watched a high energy density battery, even a AA size one, explode? [Don't try this at home.]


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 3:34 pm

@eileen: perhaps you meant to ask about 'fusion', not fission?

----

> We mustn't condemn the use us nuclear power.

"We" don't "condemn the use us nuclear power."

Nuclear power's own exorbitant cost and safety concerns condemn it. None of which you addressed.

Until addressed, nukes are a fantasy. Judging by your post including fantasy comments on galactic travel, submarine fleets, etc.. one can see you are enamored with the fantastic.

As stated, given the high costs of nuclear, we Might as well just subsidize renewables and research.



 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 3:43 pm

> "Those solutions are a *lot* closer than the dream of safe cheap nukes."
> I wish you were right.

Thank you. Sadly, I am. By default. Nukes are no where near ready to be cost effective and safe. By comparison, research into renewables/storage has moved forward in leaps and bounds, as prices have dropped.

Last year, Westinghouse declared chapter 11 because of the billions lost from reactor construction projects.

As stated - default.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 6:01 pm

"Nukes are no where near ready to be cost effective and safe. By comparison, research into renewables/storage has moved forward in leaps and bounds, as prices have dropped."

Any progress on getting the sun to shine at night? The wind to blow on command?

The planet is at stake and people dither over 80's-era cost effectiveness analyses. And that is how the world ended, on a balance sheet. It didn't pencil out.

BTW, what's the price of a new planet? Is saving the current one any cheaper?

How's your assignment coming along?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Apr 18, 2019 at 7:52 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

Here is a link to how and why the French use nuclear power ( Web Link ). It is from PBS so no one can argue that it is from a source with a conservative bias. And here is a link to the cost of nuclear vs solar ( Web Link ) which states the solar is roughly 5 times more expensive.

The French have a very good way of reclaiming and reusing the nuclear waste and for over 10 years I have proposed that the US have the French assist with building new nuclear plants. After all, they may make crap wine, but they make great nuclear power!

People in the US need to get over their irrational fear of nuclear energy. It has a far smaller footprint than any other method of energy production per kilowatt hour of energy produced, it is clean, renewable, much less expensive, and is not subject to the wild fluctuations of solar, wind or hydro. If the French build it ( and I'm not a huge fan of the French), they can put one in my back yard.


Jim Neal

Modesto, Ca

( Formerly Old Mountain View )


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 19, 2019 at 10:19 am

> And here is a link to the cost of nuclear vs solar

Your link is to 2013. That might as well be the Stone Age in terms of solar costs (ignoring that the pro-nuke article is highly slanted.) Solar costs have plummeted.

From the link:
“The cost of building and operating the Finnish nuclear plant over the next 20 years will be $15 billion."

Doesn't include insurance or decommissioning costs, which are prohibitive. Also waste storage, for the next thousand years. Million years?

If you are attempting to make an economic argument, use current and COMPLETE costs.

It takes almost 20 years to build a new nuclear plant, and billions upon billions of dollars. Before we see "Watt One." Dumptrucks full of cash on a lonely highway leading out to the radioactive site. Those billions invested in renewables and storage research will yield cost effective, immediate results, on a declining cost curve.

Yet again: I wish the fantasy of cost effective, safe nukes in the near term (say - 20 years?) was here. It's not. Look at the progress of wind, solar and other renewables in the last 20 years and extrapolate the curve for another 20.

Just for fun - let's look at some of the disastrous business side of nukes, from the wayback machine - Forbes, 1985 article:States:

"The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale ... only the blind, or the biased, can now think that the money has been well spent. It is a defeat for the U.S. consumer and for the competitiveness of U.S. industry, for the utilities that undertook the program and for the private enterprise system that made it possible."

Ring up the folks at Westinghouse's reactor business and ask - how'd it work out for ya?

---

Jim: re: the article about France's nuclear waste - as I understand it, they store it in hundreds of sites around their country. What's the security and storage costs for that? How many should we keep here in NorCal? Modesto?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Alternative Energy Sources, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Apr 19, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Would having something along the lines of a mini-nuclear reactor in each home help to reduce and/or defray energy costs?

A colleague of mine from China said that they could manufacture these small-scale reactors cost-effectively but procuring the refined plutonium would be the tricky part due to the cost & terrorism threat/potential.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Jim Neal, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Apr 19, 2019 at 1:27 pm

Jim Neal is a registered user.

@Chernobyl - Regarding your last comment, I already said that I'm fine with having a nuclear plant in my back yard, so I would be fine with the storage sites also.

I haven't seen any evidence that the cost of solar has dropped dramatically in the last 5 years. I was thinking of adding more panels to my house, but the cost today would have been as much as the original owners of my house paid for their panels 5 years ago. It's also interesting that you say an article from 6 years ago is too old, but then throw in one from 1985.


There is also the problem of how to dispose of the hundreds of millions of solar panels once they have outlived their usefulness. As far as I know, solar panels aren't biodegradable and contain toxic materials.


Regarding the cost and construction of nuclear plants, are you seriously suggesting that the French can do something that the US can't? Our economy dwarfs that of all of Europe put together. I'm pretty sure we could do it if the politicians don't create unnecessary and ridiculous problems that increase costs.

Lastly, as I have previously stated, I am NOT against solar, as I have solar on my current home. I just am not one of the people that believes that solar is the answer to everything and therefore we should all pay through the nose to subsidize it. I am arguing for a mix in which solar is a supplemental part of the solution, and in which nuclear power is included. If North Korea and Iran can have nuclear power, why can't we?





Jim Neal

Modesto, Ca


(Formerly Old Mountain View)


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Apr 19, 2019 at 1:43 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Nuclear is a tough topic. According to the NY Times, which interviewed all the Democratic presidential candidates on several climate-related topics, this was the most divisive policy issue. See end of this page for their positions on nuclear. Many of the biggest names did not weigh in, though.

@Jim, thanks very much for providing links, even if they were not perfect. @Chernobyl, it would be great if you could do the same. You make some claims, such as waste needing to be stored for a million years, that I’d like to understand better. I’m also curious why you believe the pricing information Jim linked to does not include decommissioning or insurance. I think it’s standard practice to include at least the cost of decommissioning, no? Here is the comparison from the (very pro-nuclear) Breakthrough Institute. Construction cost is around $8B, from what I can tell from the latest reports. Breakthrough estimates capital costs at $11B. Does that include decommissioning? I see costs of around $1B to decommission a plant. Similarly, other articles I’ve looked at on cost of nuclear include decommissioning and waste management.

It is very clear that different parts of the world have different approaches to nuclear. I found a pretty helpful article from the University of Pennsylvania on what is driving that. I get the sense that nuclear is failing in the US at least in part because gas is so cheap, and because of public opposition. Interestingly, this article talks about Japan, and the resurgence of nuclear there.

@curmudgeon is right that we need some kind of flexible power to handle the intermittency of solar and wind. For the people opposing nuclear power, what are you recommending for flexible power? We can’t rely on sufficient hydro. Is hydrogen less worrisome than nuclear? Large scale batteries? Or maybe you’re not sure, but nothing can be worse than nuclear?

@eileen -- Good question. Apparently no one has yet created a fusion reactor that generates more energy than it uses. We won’t have even a “few minutes’ worth” of net energy from a fusion reactor until the 30’s.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 19, 2019 at 3:54 pm

> Also waste storage, for the next thousand years. Million years?
> such as waste needing to be stored for a million years

Was being hyperbolic with the million. Technically, plutonium-244 has a half-life of 80.8 million years; it is used in spacecraft and some other applications, not commercial power generation. Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years.

And neither of us want to be around when it has decayed only 'half'. ;-)

Power plant waste is shorter, measured in the low 'thousands'. Technically, plutonium-244 has a half-life of 80.8 million years; it is used in spacecraft and some other applications, not commercial power generation. Again, half-life.



> Just for fun - let's look at some of the disastrous business side of nukes, from the wayback machine - Forbes, 1985 article:
> It's also interesting that you say an article from 6 years ago is too old, but then throw in one from 1985.

Again, note the 'fun' comment - it was meant to show that commercial nuclear has been a losing proposition since inception.



> I haven't seen any evidence that the cost of solar has dropped dramatically in the last 5 years.

Web Link One can google and find info all over, though I agree, so much of it is consumer focused, trying to sell systems at the retail level. One of the top links that came up for me is PV-mag and an article on monthly panel spot pricing from about 2011. Notre current pricing and scroll (all the way) down the page of monthly charts. Looks like prices have dropped 2/3rds over that period.

Web Link Solar Tribune, so one can imagine they are 'pro', of course, but some nice charts for pricing over the last decade.

Nice update on wind Web Link Oklahoma has more generation than CA. Wow.



> I'm also curious why you believe the pricing information Jim linked to does not include decommissioning or insurance.

As I stated, no private, for-profit insurance company, iirc, has ever insured a US nuke.



> Breakthrough Institute, German renewables and the Finnish Olkiluoto plant

IIRC, Finland has canceled a fourth reactor at Olkiluoto. (link removed, google it)

Also: the German costs listed in some of the charts are based on 2001-2010 costs. See charts above for the massive drop in panel costs since 2001, etc.. That said, frankly, Finland is a different kettle o' fish. Nukes may be right for them given their geography, etc..

Given they had cost overruns, canceled it, BreakTrough is decidely pro-nuclear, I feel that $8 billion number is wildly optimistic.



So... y'all have had good comments and questions. Been fun. I learned a lot. Thank you for that. What I haven't learned is why, (other than "gosh, wouldn't it be great to have these mega-sources of 'clean' power") is why we should drop $10 Billion Plus into a nuke plants in Modesto, that won't produce a watt until 2030. And will be ever so costly for it's life span.

So here's a little thought: a Manhattan-style project, half a trillion bucks, back of the napkin

Nukes: builds about 35 nuke plants around the country, maybe generating in 2030, 2035 (always takes longer with nukes, planning, siting, etc.. Also reviving the dormant industry - Westinghouse, etc..)

For that $500B, what can we get in renewable/storage research, installation and generation? Before the first jolt from a nuke?

I'm optimistic, based on the cost curves and tremendous amount of already ongoing research, that by 2030/35, renewables are the answer.

I just wish we invested more, earlier, and didn't cede so much of it to China. But that's mostly political.




Note: wouldn't post "* You have too many URLs in your comment" so I deleted some links.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Chernobyl cancer clusters, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Apr 19, 2019 at 3:57 pm

> That said, frankly, Finland is a different kettle o' fish.

After all, they rake their forests.

;-)

Again - been fun. Take care...


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 19, 2019 at 6:56 pm

"Plutonium-239 has a half-life of 24,000 years."

What's the half-life of a heat-dead planet? Has Venus cooled any since I last looked?

News flash, baby. We got bookoo tons of that Pu stuff hanging around right now already today. Where were you and your numbers when they began making it 75 years ago?

The solutions for the future Pu are the same solutions for the present Pu: Burn it in reactors for carbon-free energy, or stow it underground.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Wizard of Odd, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 20, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Curmudgeon: not sure the pro-renewable guy was making a big thing about radioactivity, was just answering a question from the blogger "...Also waste storage, for the next thousand years. Million years?"

What I haven't seen is a response to the prohibitive cost and delays with nuclear matched against the declining cost of renewables.

Here's a list of canceled nuclear plants in the US, from wiki. Formatting is awful (thanks, Embarcadero - when are you putting in a real commenting system?!?)



Name[n 1] Unit State Contract Construction Project
year start close

Allens Creek 1 Texas 1973 - 9/1/1982
Allens Creek 2 Texas 1973 - 9/1/1976
Atlantic 1 New Jersey 1972 - 12/1/1978
(offshore)
Atlantic 2 New Jersey 1972 - 12/1/1978
(offshore)
Atlantic 3 New Jersey 1973 - 12/1/1978
(offshore)
Atlantic 4 New Jersey 1973 - 12/1/1978
(offshore)
Bailly 1 Indiana 1967 1/1/1974 8/1/1981
(converted to coal)
Barton 1 Alabama 1972 - 11/1/1977
Barton 2 Alabama 1972 - 11/1/1977
Barton 3 Alabama 1974 - 11/1/1975
Barton 4 Alabama 1974 - 11/1/1975
Bell Bend 1 Pennsylvania - - -
Bell Station 1 New York 1967 - 1972
Bellefonte 1 Alabama 1970 9/1/1974 1/1/1988
Bellefonte 2 Alabama 1970 9/1/1974 1/1/1988
Bellefonte 3 Alabama - - -
Bellefonte 4 Alabama - - -
Black Fox 1 Oklahoma 1973 7/1/1978 2/1/1982
Black Fox 2 Oklahoma 1973 7/1/1978 2/1/1982
Blue Hills (formerly Sunken Log) 1 Texas 1973 - 8/1/1978
Blue Hills (formerly Sunken Log) 2 Texas 1974 - 8/1/1978
Bodega Bay 1 California - 1958 1964
Callaway 2 Missouri 1973 10/1/1975 10/1/1981
Callaway 2 Missouri 2008 - -
Calvert Cliffs 3 Maryland - - 6/8/2015
Carroll County 1 Illinois 1978 - 12/1/1988
Carroll County 2 Illinois 1978 - 12/1/1988
Central Iowa 1 Iowa - - 9/1/1975
Cherokee 1 South Carolina 1973 6/1/1976 4/1/1983
Cherokee 2 South Carolina 1973 6/1/1976 11/1/1982
Cherokee 3 South Carolina 1973 6/1/1976 11/1/1982
Clinch River 1 Tennessee 1973 - 11/1/1983
Clinton 2 Illinois 1973 10/1/1975 10/1/1983
Columbia (WNP-1/WPPSS-1) 1 Washington 1972 8/1/1975 1/1/1983
Columbia (WNP-4/WPPSS-4) 4 Washington 1974 8/1/1975 1/1/1982
Comanche Peak 3 Texas - - 11/7/2013
Comanche Peak 4 Texas - - 11/7/2013
Crystal River 4 Florida 1971 - 7/1/1972
Davis Besse 2 Ohio 1973 - 1/1/1980
Davis Besse 3 Ohio 1973 - 1/1/1980
Douglas Point (US) 1 Maryland 1972 - 5/1/1980
Douglas Point (US) 2 Maryland 1972 - 1/1/1978
Erie 1 Ohio 1976 - 1/1/1980
Erie 2 Ohio 1976 - 1/1/1980
Floating 1 Florida - - 1/1/1979
Floating 2 Florida - - 1/1/1979
Forked River 1 New Jersey 1969 8/1/1973 11/1/1980
Fort Calhoun 2 Nebraska 1972 - 2/1/1977
Fulton 1 Pennsylvania 1971 - 3/1/1976
Fulton 2 Pennsylvania 1971 - 3/1/1976
Galena 1 Alaska 2008 - -
Grand Gulf 2 Mississippi 1972 5/1/1974 12/1/1990
Grand Gulf 3 Mississippi 1973 - 2/9/2015
Greene County 1 New Jersey 1974 - 4/1/1979
Greenwood 2 Michigan 1972 - 3/1/1980
Greenwood 3 Michigan 1972 - 3/1/1980
Hartsville A1 Tennessee 1972 4/1/1976 8/1/1984
Hartsville A2 Tennessee 1972 4/1/1976 8/1/1984
Hartsville B1 Tennessee 1972 4/1/1976 8/1/1982
Hartsville B2 Tennessee 1972 4/1/1976 8/1/1982
Haven 1 Wisconsin 1973 - 2/1/1980
Haven 2 Wisconsin 1974 - 5/1/1978
Hope Creek 2 New Jersey 1969 3/1/1976 12/1/1981
Jamesport 1 Long Island, New York 1973 - 1/1/1980
Jamesport 2 Long Island, New York 1974 - 1/1/1980
Levy County 1 Florida 2008 - 8/1/2013
Levy County 2 Florida 2008 - 8/1/2013
Malibu 1 California 1963 - 1972
Marble Hill 1 Indiana 1973 7/1/1977 1/1/1984
Marble Hill 2 Indiana 1973 7/1/1977 1/1/1984
Mayport 1 Florida 1969 - -
Mayport 2 Florida 1969 - -
Midland 1 Michigan 1968 3/1/1973 7/1/1986
Midland 2 Michigan 1968 3/1/1973 7/1/1986
Montague 1 Massachusetts 1974 - 12/1/1980
Montague 2 Massachusetts 1974 - 12/1/1980
New England (NEP) 1 Rhode Island 1974 - 1/1/1980
New England (NEP) 2 Rhode Island 1974 - 1/1/1980
New Haven 1 New Jersey 1977 - 1/1/1980
New Haven 2 New Jersey 1977 - 1/1/1980
Newbold Island 1 New Jersey - - -
(relocated to Hope Creek)
Newbold Island 2 New Jersey - - -
(relocated to Hope Creek)
Nine Mile Point 3 New York 2008 - 11/25/2013
North Anna 3 Virginia 1971 6/1/1971 11/1/1982
North Anna 4 Virginia 1971 12/1/1971 11/1/1980
North Coast (formerly Aguirre/Isolte) 1 Puerto Rico 1970 - 12/1/1978
North Coast (formerly Aguirre/Isolte) 2 Puerto Rico 1973 - -
NYSE&G 1 New York 1977 - 1980
NYSE&G 2 New York 1977 - 1980
Orange/Orlando 1 Florida 1974 - 12/1/1975
Orange/Orlando 2 Florida 1974 - 12/1/1975
Palo Verde 4 Arizona 1977 - 7/1/1979
Palo Verde 5 Arizona 1977 - 7/1/1979
Pebble Springs 1 Oregon 1973 - 9/1/1982
Pebble Springs 2 Oregon 1974 - 9/1/1982
Perkins 1 North Carolina 1973 - 2/1/1982
Perkins 2 North Carolina 1973 - 2/1/1982
Perkins 3 North Carolina 1973 - 2/1/1982
Perry 2 Ohio 1974 10/1/1974 4/1/1984
Perryman 1 Maryland 1972 - 11/1/1972
Perryman 2 Maryland 1972 - 11/1/1972
Phipps Bend 1 Tennessee 1974 10/1/1977 8/1/1982
Phipps Bend 2 Tennessee 1974 10/1/1977 8/1/1982
Pilgrim 2 Massachusetts 1972 - 9/1/1981
Pilgrim 3 Massachusetts - - 7/1/1974
Quanicassee 1 Michigan 1972 - 1974
Quanicassee 2 Michigan 1972 - 1974
Ravenswood 1 New York 1962 - 1/6/1964
Ravenswood 2 New York 1962 - 1/6/1964
River Bend 2 Louisiana 1973 8/1/1975 1/1/1984
River Bend 3 Louisiana - - 12/4/2015
San Joaquin Nuclear Project 1 California 1973 - 3/31/1978
San Joaquin Nuclear Project 2 California 1973 - 3/31/1978
San Joaquin Nuclear Project 3 California 1973 - 3/31/1978
San Joaquin Nuclear Project 4 California 1973 - 3/31/1978
Satsop (WNP-3/WPPSS-3) 3 Washington 1973 4/1/1977 1/1/1983
Satsop (WNP-5/WPPSS-5) 5 Washington 1974 4/1/1977 1/1/1982
Seabrook 2 New Hampshire 1972 7/1/1976 1/1/1988
Sears Isle 1 Maine 1974 - 1977
Shearon Harris 2 North Carolina 1971 1/1/1978 1983-12-01 (2013)
Shearon Harris 3 North Carolina 1971 1/1/1978 1983-12-01 (2013)
Shearon Harris 4 North Carolina 1971 1/1/1978 12/1/1983
Shearon Harris 2 North Carolina - - 5/2/2013
Shearon Harris 3 North Carolina - - 5/2/2013
Skagit-Hanford 1 Washington 1973 - 8/1/1983
Skagit-Hanford 2 Washington 1974 - 8/1/1983
Somerset 1 New York 1974 - 5/1/1977
Somerset 2 New York 1974 - 5/1/1977
South Dade 1 Florida 1975 - 5/1/1977
South Dade 2 Florida 1975 - 5/1/1977
South River 1 North Carolina 1973 - 1/1/1979
South River 2 North Carolina 1973 - 1/1/1979
South River 3 North Carolina 1973 - 12/1/1974
Stanislaus 1 California 1971 - 1979
Stanislaus 2 California 1971 - 1979
Sterling 1 New York 1973 - 1/1/1980
Summit 1 Delaware 1971 - 11/1/1975
Summit 2 Delaware 1971 - 11/1/1975
Sundesert 1 California 1975 - 5/1/1978
Sundesert 2 California 1975 - 5/1/1978
Surry 3 Virginia 1972 1/1/1974 3/1/1977
Surry 4 Virginia 1972 1/1/1974 3/1/1977
Tyrone 1 Wisconsin 1973 - 7/1/1979
Tyrone 2 Wisconsin 1973 - 12/1/1975
V.C. Summer 2 South Carolina 2008 3/9/2013 7/31/2017
V.C. Summer 3 South Carolina 2008 3/9/2013 7/31/2017
Vandalia (Iowa) 1 Iowa 1976 - 2/1/1982
Verplanck 1 New York 1968 - 1975
(formerly Indian Point-4)
Verplanck 2 New York 1968 - 1975
(formerly Indian Point-5)
Victoria County Station 1 Texas 2008 - 8/28/2012
Victoria County Station 2 Texas 2008 - 8/28/2012
Vidal 1 California 1972 - 1974
Vidal 2 California 1972 - 1974
Vogtle 3 Georgia 1973 - 1974
Vogtle 4 Georgia 1973 - 1974
Yellow Creek 1 Mississippi 1974 2/1/1978 8/30/1984
Yellow Creek 2 Mississippi 1974 2/1/1978 8/30/1984
Zimmer 2 Ohio 1974 - 1/1/1984
Zimmer 1 Ohio 1969 10/1/1972 1/1/1984
(converted to coal)


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Wizard of Odd, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 20, 2019 at 12:48 pm

That list represents a lot of resources that never generated power. Invest that into today's renewable and we'd see a lot of low maintenance cost, clean power, with essentially no decommissioning at the end of 30 years, storage, etc..

One doesn't need a brigade of cops to patrol the perimeter of wind turbines against moos-lem ter-rhists. Or supremacists, etc..


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North,
on Apr 20, 2019 at 4:30 pm

"What I haven't seen is a response to the prohibitive cost and delays with nuclear matched against the declining cost of renewables."

Here it is, from above.

>The planet is at stake and people dither over 80's-era cost effectiveness analyses. And that is how the world ended, on a balance sheet. It didn't pencil out.

>BTW, what's the price of a new planet? Is saving the current one any cheaper?

You cannot solve extraordinary problems with ordinary thinking.


"Also waste storage, for the next thousand years. Million years?"

Like I pointed out in the post you quoted from, we got tons and tons of that stuff lying around today as NIMBYs kick the can down the calendar for the coming generations. The solution for that waste is the solution for any additional waste. (Don't you read the postings you quote from?)


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Wizard of Odd, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Apr 20, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Wow - the pro-renewable guy and I aren't making a big thing about the eon-long toxic waste. You keep coming back to it. The pro guy raises good questions about the cost and availability.

As the other poster said - what are you going to do during the 10-15 years it would take to ramp up nuclear? Wait?


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Apr 21, 2019 at 5:24 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

Good discussion! I will add a few more things to think about. At some point I’ll do a full blog post, but I need to learn a lot more first.

Nuclear technology has risks, as does most power technology. How should we compare nuclear risk to hydrogen risk? Or battery risk? Or carbon capture risk? Or that of other possible carbon-free storage technologies deployed at scale? (Solar and wind and hydro must be augmented with something more flexible.) Related: is there value in simplicity? (I am guessing nuclear is more complex to understand and operate than many other options.)

What is our fallback if (for example) solar generation drops significantly (e.g., due to solar radiation management), which many say will happen, in some form, this century? Do we want to be in the position of fighting against solar engineering, if it is desperately needed, because we don't have the appropriate power infrastructure?

The price and timeframe of new nuclear plants in the US, particularly when compared with natural gas, are problematic. Nuclear plant development is cheaper and faster in other countries at least in part because they take a more standardized approach to developing reactors. Smaller ones are also coming. How much of the price and delay are inherent, versus a result of how we do it today? Do we care?

Insurance is getting very problematic. Look at recent news about wildfire liability. What about flood insurance? The state is going to have to jump in across the board as our environment changes faster than we can keep up with it. Whether or not there is private insurance for nuclear plants may be beside the point, if it’s something we want to invest in.

The Union of Concerned Scientists says, when talking about solar engineering: “A precautionary approach to grave climate risks is one in which society invests in developing a careful understanding of all possible climate response options, including ones that themselves pose substantial risks and uncertainties.” This is a polite way of making Curmudgeon’s same point. Are we sure enough about nuclear at this point, relative to other options, to rule it out?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Brookings, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Apr 21, 2019 at 8:45 pm

When was the last nuclear plant built in under 15 years?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by it takes a village, a resident of University South,
on Apr 21, 2019 at 9:06 pm

We could build a couple nukes in the middle of nowhere. But build 30? Interesting notion.

12 billion over ten years for each would also buy a lot of wind turbines. Generating a lot, a lot quicker. Or put a lot of panels on rooftops locally, where the power is needed. Or solar plants off in the distance. Maybe more hydro.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Peter, a resident of Mayfield,
on Apr 22, 2019 at 10:10 am

We need a balance.

Nuclear has been around, and they've learned a lot since all those plants listed were cancelled. That said..

Renewables are clearly in the hockey stick phase of research, discovery, value, etc. Storage appears to be have enough investment that we will see storage in that hockey stick/Moore's phase soon enough. Certainly in any 15 year window.

Don't eff with SRM. That is cra-cra on the face of it.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by click here, a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda,
2 hours ago

Absolutely, we need a variety of options. Hydro isn't enough, though it is the second largest element of our state's power supply (around 15%), used by utilities across much of the state.



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