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Archive for January 29th, 2010

A critical court ruling today rang the first chime in what could be the death knell of the so-called “nuclear renaissance,” starting with the failed expansion of the South Texas Project (STP).

This afternoon’s ruling by 408th District Court Judge Larry Noll that CPS Energy can safely withdraw from the proposed STP expansion project without losing all its investment offers the utility and the city of San Antonio the cue they’ve been waiting for to exit the national nuclear stage. Combined with the NRG Energy CEO’s announcement during a shareholder and press conference call this morning that NRG would “wind down the project as quickly and economically as possible” if CPS withdraws or STP does not receive federal loan guarantees, this news marks a major blow to those who claim nuclear power is a viable alternative to fossil fuel energy. The expansion project calls for two new nuclear reactors at a site with two existing reactors.

slide 8 of NRG's "STP 3&4 Nuclear Project and CPS Litigation" presentation given at shareholder and media conference call Friday, January 29, 2010 8:00 a.m. ET

These events give credence to the contention made over the past five years by opponents of nuclear power that it is a needlessly expensive and risky way to meet future energy needs.. In less than a year, the price of the STP nuclear expansion ballooned from around $5 billion to more than $18 billion. Given this case study of nuclear power’s failure, we must call into question the federal government’s decision to increase federal loan guarantees to support oversized, untenable projects that are already proving too risky for private investors.

Public Citizen calls on both CPS Energy and NRG Energy to stop throwing good money after bad with their nuclear expansion plans and halt the project. Thankfully, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro intervened by putting the project on hold before costs jumped too far out of San Antonio’s reach. Given the court’s announcement that the city’s interests are protected, we hope San Antonio will take the next responsible step and bow out entirely.

Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director of Public Citizen’s Texas Office

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Also cross-posted at our Energy Blog:

President Obama announced this morning he was putting the government on a low carbon diet. Through a series of initiatives, he hopes to decrease energy consumption through efficiency and switching to alternative energy that is less carbon intensive.

As the single largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy, the Federal Government spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008 alone. Achieving the Federal GHG pollution reduction target will reduce Federal energy use by the equivalent of 646 trillion BTUs, equal to 205 million barrels of oil, and taking 17 million cars off the road for one year. This is also equivalent to a cumulative total of $8 to $11 billion in avoided energy costs through 2020.

“As the largest energy consumer in the United States, we have a responsibility to American citizens to reduce our energy use and become more efficient,” said President Obama. “Our goal is to lower costs, reduce pollution, and shift Federal energy expenses away from oil and towards local, clean energy.”

Fun fact 1: The US government uses approximately as much energy as the entire country of Austria.

Fun Fact 2: Similar initiatives made by states have netted huge results. The state government of Utah, led by governor Jon Huntsman (who Obama named ambassador to China, you may remember), invested $1.5 million in energy efficiency for government agencies expecting a 10 year payback. They made it back in 3– and now they save over half a million dollars in energy costs a year. Efficiency is an economy of scale– and I’m willing to be the entire government of Utah would not even fill in one of the large federal agency buildings around DC.

Fun Fact 3: Texas has its own “No Regrets” greenhouse gas reduction strategy in accordance with the passage of SB 184, which Public Citizen supported: don’t forget that Sunday is the last day to submit your energy efficiency ideas to the state comptroller’s office. For more info see: www.TexasNoRegrets.org

I think this is a domestic spending freeze everyone can get behind.

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