Posts Tagged ‘nrg energy’

Tuesday, a fire erupted in the Unit 2 main transformer that feeds power from the reactor to the public power grid of the South Texas Project Electric Generating Station near Bay City and about 85 miles southwest of Houston.  The unit 2 was automatically taken offline and STP officials say unit 1 is still operational, but STP officials say they don’t know when unit 2 will be restarted.

The fire broke out at 4:42 p.m. was extinguished within 15 minutes, but the plant had to declare that an “unusual event” had taken place and notified county, state and federal officials. Managers declared the event over at 7:47 p.m.  No injuries were reported and STP is claiming that the incident poses no hazard to the public or to plant workers.

The two 1,350-megawatt generators, owned by NRG Energy, CPS Energy and Austin Energy, serve 2 million users. each reactor at the plant produces 1,280 megawatts of electricity. One megawatt is enough to power 500 homes during mild winter conditions, but if your remember the Texas rolling blackouts during a severe winter event in February of 2011 you might also remember that the electricity shortage during that unusual high demand time was due to unexpected plant outages.  Let’s hope we don’t have one of those before unit 2 comes back online.

Interestingly enough, this incident happened just before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission begins seeking public comment on a draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the proposed renewal of the South Texas Project nuclear power plant’s operating licenses for an additional 20 years.

NRC staff will hold two public meetings in Bay City, Texas, on Jan. 15, 2013 to present the findings of the draft report and accept public comments. The meetings will be held at the Bay City Civic Center, 201 Seventh St., from 2-5 p.m. and 7-10 p.m. NRC staff members will be available for one hour prior to each session to meet informally with members of the public.

The South Texas Project nuclear plant has two pressurized-water reactors. The plant operator, STP Nuclear Operating Co., submitted its license renewal application on Oct. 25, 2010. The current operating licenses expire Aug. 20, 2027, for Unit 1 and Dec. 15, 2028, for Unit 2.  The original license was issued based on the expected life of the plant.  Most of our aging nuclear power fleet is nearing the end of their life expectancy and since most energy companies have not been successful in securing funding for building new plants, the strategy is to just extend the life of the current facilities by renewing their licenses.

The draft supplemental environmental impact statement contains the NRC staff’s analysis of potential impacts specific to the South Texas Project site. In preparing the report, the staff held a public meeting in Bay City on March 2, 2011, as part of the public “scoping” process for the report. The staff also conducted site audits at the plant in May and July 2011 and consulted with other agencies while analyzing the applicant’s environmental report submitted with the application.

The draft NRC report does not discuss potential environmental impacts of extended storage of spent nuclear fuel after the plant eventually ceases operation. That issue will be addressed in the NRC’s waste confidence environmental impact statement and rule, expected by September 2014. In August 2012, the Commission decided that the agency will not issue final licensing decisions for reactors, including license renewal, until the waste confidence rule is completed. If at that time, site-specific issues relating to spent fuel storage at South Texas Project remain unresolved, they will be addressed separately.

Public comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the South Texas Project license renewal will be accepted through Feb. 22, 2013. They may be submitted online via the federal government’s rulemaking website at www.regulations.gov using Docket ID NRC-2010-0375. They may also be mailed to Cindy Bladey, Chief, Rules, Announcements and Directives Branch (RADB), Division of Administrative Services, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: TWB-05-B01M, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C., 20555-0001. Comments may also be faxed to 301-492-3446.

The South Texas Project draft supplemental environmental impact statement is available for public inspection in the NRC Public Document Room at NRC headquarters, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. Copies will also be available at the Bay City Public Library, 1100 7th St., Bay City, Texas.

Read Full Post »

Even Support from Businesses Like IKEA Is Not Enough for PUC

AUSTIN, TX – The Public Utility Commission delivered a slap in the face to the more than 6,000 Texans and 70 businesses and organizations  who have actively called on the Commission to implement and expand the non-wind renewable portfolio standard (RPS).  The non-wind RPS would establish a market for electricity from solar and other renewable energy resources in Texas, just as the State’s overall RPS did for wind energy.  The non-wind RPS was passed into law in 2005, but has yet to be implemented by the PUC.

Democracy and the rule of law may be important tenants of our society, but they are utterly lacking at the PUC, where Commissioners refused to engage in even a single minute of public discussion on the matter before striking it down today.

Instead of gathering current information on the price of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and other renewable energy technologies, the PUC staff recommended denial based on data that is more than two years old.  This illustrates a shocking lack of due diligence, given that solar prices have plummeted over the past two years and are now competitive with traditional energy sources, especially when demand is high.  David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, told participants at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, “Solar is so cheap today that unless you tell me that you did a solar analysis yesterday, not last year or last month, then your analysis is out of date.

The Commission appears to be committed to willful ignorance on this issue, but we’re not giving up.  This is too important to the future of our state. The solar industry is going to continue to grow regardless of what the PUC does; it’s just a matter of whether it will grow in Texas and bring good jobs to Texans or if we will let other states and other countries leave us behind.

While misconceptions about the cost of solar energy persist, businesses and individuals who look at current prices have found an opportunity for energy savings by investing in solar.  IKEA, a major international retailer, supports implementing and expanding the non-wind RPS in Texas.  “While utilizing renewable resources for generating energy allows us to reduce our carbon footprint, it[s] also is good business since it significantly reduces operational costs,” states the company in its comments that they filed with the PUC.

Read Full Post »

STP US vs Foreign OwnershipThe Nuclear Regulatory Commission has suspended its review of the foreign ownership portion of the application to expand the South Texas Project nuclear plant over concerns that the owners haven’t done enough to ensure domestic control of the plant.

Toshiba Corp., based in Japan, could obtain an 85 percent ownership stake in the two nuclear plants proposed for the site outside of Bay City, the NRC found, meaning the company could have “the power to exercise ownership, control or domination over NINA,” or Nuclear Innovation North America.

NINA is a partnership between Toshiba and NRG Energy, which currently shares ownership of STP’s existing nuclear plants with CPS Energy and Austin Energy.

According to the Express-News, NRC staff, in its Dec. 13 letter to NINA, determined that the plan as submitted doesn’t meet the requirements of a federal law prohibiting foreign ownerships of a nuclear plant because, since NRG will not be investing additional capital in the project, “there is reason to believe that most of the financing going forward will be from Toshiba,” a foreign corporation.

This decision could push back a final decision on the license application:

The commission confirmed that the rest of the licensing application will continue to move ahead, but a license, which has been expected by sometime in 2012, will not be granted until the foreign ownership question is resolved.

Back in April of this year, federal officials said French owned UniStar Nuclear Energy was not eligible to build a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs because it is not a U.S.-owned company.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said although a review of the application for the $9.6 billion reactor in Southern Maryland will still take place, a license would not be issued until the ownership requirements were met.  That application now lies languishing for want of U.S. based investors.

Here’s a link: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/energy/article/NRC-halts-nuclear-expansion-s-review-over-foreign-2402923.php

Read Full Post »

The deadline for citizen comments to the NRC on re-licensing of the South Texas Nuclear Project units 1 and 2 is tomorrow, April 1st.

The applicant for license renewal is STPNOC – the South Texas Nuclear Operating Company. The Matagorda County nuclear reactors are owned by NRG South Texas LP, CPS Energy and the City of Austin. Austin gets 16% of its power from the two units.

For information on how citizens can comment on re-licensing of the reactors call Carmen Fells at 1-800-368-5642, ext. 6337.

Related documents are online at www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/licensing/renewal/applications/south-texas-project.html.

Click here to submit your comment online.

Read Full Post »

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted to launch a review of US nuclear power plant safety in response to the March 11th Japan earthquake and tsunami which resulted in the crisis at Japanese nuclear power plants.

The NRC plans to establish an agency task force, made up of current staff and former NRC experts that will conduct both short- and long-term analysis of the situation in Japan and implications for U.S. nuclear plants.  They also announced that the results of their work will be made public.

In addition to the NRC’s response to the events happening in Japan, investors are scaling back their investments in U.S. power companies that have the biggest exposure to nuclear plants because of regulatory uncertainty in reaction to the Japanese crisis.

Public and political scrutiny of the 104 U.S. nuclear reactors erupted as the world watched Japan racing to prevent a meltdown and contain radiation at Tokyo Electric Power’s (Tepco) Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors in the wake of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The ensuing sell-off in U.S. utilities with nuclear plants points to fears that these companies face greater regulatory hurdles and significant costs to keep their plants open.

Interestingly enough, NRG Energy (NRG) shares jumped 5.4%  on expectations that the power company will abandon its South Texas nuclear Project expansion, especially if its Japanese partners pull out, including Tepco who had announced they were going to partner with NRG and Toshiba for  a 10% share of the expansion, and possibly increase that to 20% if a U.S. loan guarantee was awarded to the project.

Read Full Post »

San Antonio’s electric utility, CPS, has halted their negotiations on a power purchase agreement between CPS and STP’s expansion units 3 and 4.  CPS’s CEO, Doyle Beneby, announced that CPS and NRG have mutually agreed to terminate their PPA negotiations at this point. 

It would appear that the issues facing NRG’s Japanese partners (including Tepco, the beleaguered owners of the doomed Fukushima nuclear plant) are giving everyone pause in their relentless pursuit of the STP expansion.

Read Full Post »

NRG desperate for PPAsNRG Energy, Inc. posted their 2010 Full-Year and Fourth Quarter results today.  It appears that if no loan guarantees are forthcoming and the company fails to secure sufficient Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) for the STP expansion project by the third quarter of this year, NRG could make a final decision to pull the project.

For this reason, Central Texas utilities like Austin Energy, LCRA, and San Marcos are going to be lobbied heavily by NRG representatives in the coming months.  Click here to read our earlier post on NRG’s approach to Austin Energy.

A section directly from their 4th quarter report is excerpted below:

On November 29, 2010,  NINA awarded the EPC contract for the development of STP Units 3 and 4 to a restructured EPC consortium formed by Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corporation and The Shaw Group Inc. Shaw is providing a $100 million credit facility to NINA to assist in financing STP. The credit facility will convert to equity in NINA upon the satisfaction of certain conditions including the project receiving full notice to proceed, which is expected in mid-2012. The project is presently scheduled to come online with one unit in 2016 and the second in 2017.  The project remains subject to receipt of a conditional loan guarantee from the Department of Energy and to the satisfaction of certain conditions, most notably, the arrangement of long term PPAs for a significant portion of the plant’s capacity. It is anticipated that the pace of development and pre-construction work required to meet the 2016/2017 online schedule dictates that the loan guarantee needs to be received and critical conditions satisfied in the third quarter of 2011. As a result, NRG expects to make a final decision with respect to its continued funding of STP 3&4 during the third quarter of 2011.


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.

Read Full Post »

STP ZombieOn January 25th, Juan Garza, President of Advanced Technology with NRG Energy, Inc. sent a letter to Austin Energy general manager, Larry Weis.  The contents of that letter are outlined below.

Two months ago, I informally delivered a proposal to you for Austin Energy and NRG Energy to explore a purchase power agreement from the South Texas Project Expansion. Today I am pleased to formally deliver to you a proposal for an internal framework for moving forward to explore the addition of more nuclear energy to Austin Energy’s baseload. The attached document outlines a series of transactions that NRG Energy believes could have significant value to Austin Energy. The components outlined in this proposal, while only a starting point to negotiations, showcase the potential for a nuclear power purchase agreement.

NRG recognizes that this is a particularly busy time for Austin Energy with a rate case, a power generation plan, an affordability matrix and a new business model all in play. We understand the responsibilities of the utility and believe that we can structure an offer that will help with each of the issues and aid in the fulfillment of your overall goals. We will work to ensure that the time demands on you and your staff are minimal as we move forward to evaluate a potential partnership.

We know that you are focused on reducing the city’s carbon footprint and keeping rates low and we believe we can develop an effective proposal to accomplish both of your goals. If NRG purchases Austin Energy’s stake in the Fayette Power Plant it would provide a significant influx of capital to the utility that could be used to significantly delay the need for a rate increase. Austin Energy could replace the coal–‐generated baseload provided by Fayette with carbon–‐free baseload from STP 3 and 4 through a power purchase agreement, thereby reducing the utility’s carbon footprint by 70 percent while ensuring affordable rates for a generation.

It is the intention of NRG that the points laid out in the attached document include opportunities to support Austin’s long–‐term goals, such as a partnership to develop solar, wind or offshore wind projects. NRG’s corporate focus is on diversification of energy sources that results in a portfolio that provides many options.

I look forward to engaging in this process on behalf of NRG. I hope that we can begin discussions as soon as possible and I will make myself available at your convenience. It is my hope that we can engage in an open discussion through a non–‐ binding MOU agreement about how NRG can best help Austin Energy reach its energy goals.

NRG Energy, Inc. Proposal to Austin Energy

The components outlined below are starting points for the negotiation of a nuclear power purchase agreement between NRG Energy, Inc. and Austin Energy. Once both parties enter into a non–‐binding MOU agreement along with appropriate Non–‐Disclosure/Confidentiality Agreements, these points can be discussed in further detail and adjusted to meet the needs of Austin Energy:

  1. NRG would acquire from Austin Energy it’s fifty percent (50%) undivided ownership interest in each of Units 1 and 2 at the Fayette Power Project for fair market value.
  2. NRG and Austin Energy would enter into an interim power purchase agreement (600MWs) for the purchase and sale of power generated by Units 1 and 2 at the South Texas Project at a fixed price.
  3. NINA and Austin Energy would enter into one or more long term purchase power agreements (for a total of 800MWs) and, together with the Interim PPA, for the purchase and sale of power generated by Units 3 and 4 at STP at a fixed price.
  4. Target closing date is June 30, 2011.
  5. Delivery point—source busbar.
  6. Partner with Austin Energy on a renewable project such as wind or solar.
  7. This proposal will only establish the framework for further good faith negotiations to be conducted among the parties to reach a definitive agreement without any intent to incur any liability or other obligation thereby. A binding agreement or contract will not be deemed to have been entered into by the parties with respect to this proposal unless and until definitive agreements having mutually satisfactory terms and conditions have been duly executed and delivered by each party.
  8. Each party will be liable for its respective costs, expenses, and fees incurred by it and its representatives in connection with the negotiation of a definitive agreement and any related documents.


Public Citizen believes this is a bad deal. 

The offer made by NRG to swap Austin’s share of the Fayette coal plants for a contract to buy nuclear power is like giving up smoking cigarettes and taking up smoking crack cocaine. Taking this deal will leave us broke, addicted and dependent on a dealer for our next fix of energy.

We’d loose control of the coal plant to NRG, which means Austin will not be able to reduce emissions from this plant when it threatens our air quality nor will we be able to reduce the damage to the climate.  

Austin has developed a long range generating plant that calls for meeting our energy needs with efficiency, renewables, and natural gas. This plant can be easily changed if the markets shift, while a long term deal with NRG can’t.

 There are 10 good reasons NOT to do this deal

  1. We’ll loose control of our energy future and be locked into a long term deal. 
  2. The cost of buying 800 MW of nuclear energy over the 40 year lifetime of this plant would exceed $20 billion.  The last time Austin bought into STNP, it wreaked havoc on the city’s bond rating.
  3. We could invest that money in energy generated in Austin, and create wealth locally. The people who will make money off this deal are from New Jersey and Japan.
  4. The cost of the proposed nuclear plant has tripled in the last three years while the cost of solar and other alternatives are dropping.
  5. The date this plant is expected to come on-line has been delayed 3 years already.
  6. These nuclear plants will built next to two existing nuclear plants – and if one were to have a leak or an explosion, we’d loose more than 1/3 of our power.
  7. The type of nuclear plant hasn’t been built in the US.
  8. If this plant is built the cooling water will reduce water levels Lake Travis and other Highland lakes.
  9. We’ve looked at buying into the plant twice before and rejected the deals twice.
  10. NRG has been sued for fraud by San Antonio because they weren’t honest about the costs of the deal that they had with them.  This has driven NRG to try something never done before in nuclear construction – finding buyers for the electricity before the concrete is even poured.

If you are concerned about Austin pursuing such a deal, call the mayor and tell him about your concerns.

Read Full Post »

Seal of the United States Atomic Energy Commis...

Image via Wikipedia

 The Shaw Group is increasing its bet on nuclear power, announcing a role in the proposed 2,700-megawatt South Texas project making it the largest nuclear construction project in Shaw’s history.

Toshiba, the Japanese company, and NRG Energy Inc. jointly own Nuclear Innovation North America, which is developing the South Texas plant.

The Shaw Power Group will get the initial engineering, procurement and construction contract for the two-reactor expansion proposed at South Texas. But Shaw will be more than the contractor. It will be a partner with Toshiba in the project.

As part of its new agreement with Toshiba, Shaw has agreed to invest up to $250 million in nuclear projects. Of that, $100 million will initially be a loan guarantee for NINA for South Texas. If the project wins its combined operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that loan guarantee will be converted into an equity investment in the project.

The Shaw Power Group strategy is not without risks. There have been questions in recent months about whether the “nuclear renaissance” in the United States will actually occur. And there have been specific questions about the South Texas project, much of them through the SEED Coalition and Public Citizen interventions in the licensing process.

South Texas still on the hunt for partners

South Texas would be a merchant energy plant and they believe they are in line for federal loan guarantees. But another merchant plant, Calvert Cliffs in Maryland, ran into trouble when Constellation Energy pulled out. Constellation said the loan-guarantee conditions were too onerous and made the project financially untenable.

Every proposed nuclear expansion has come with the caveat that these projects are too expensive (and risky) to move forward without the federal loan guarantees.  Yet when the federal government tries to mitigate its own risk, the industry has protested.   

NINA has been looking for partners for the South Texas project since San Antonio’s municipal power company, CPS Energy, went from being a 50% partner to taking just a 7.6 percent ownership in the project.

Read Full Post »

Constellation Energy Group Inc. said last week it was pulling out of talks on a $7.5 billion loan guarantee to build a reactor at its Calvert Cliffs facility in Maryland.  Constellation Energy Group’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Wallace told the Energy Department that they felt the estimated $880 million the company would have to pay the Treasury Department was “shockingly high”.

Still, that’s only 12% of the loan guarantee, and only 7% of the estimated (pre-financed) cost of building a nuclear plant.  Compare that to low-risk lender qualifications for buying a home in this country and it doesn’t seem so shockingly high.  Traditionally lenders required a down payment of at least 20% of the home’s purchase price for a home mortgage, and to qualify for owner-builder construction loans, the down payment can be up to 30 percent of the requested loan amount.  Seems to me the industry is getting a better break than the American public right now.

A senior energy and environment analyst for a Milwaukee-based brokerage whined that the administration is offering terms no better than Constellation could get from private investors, yet we are not seeing private investors lining up to get a piece of this action-especially considering that these projects are projected to have a 50% loan default rate.

If the administration must support a nuclear renaissance, it is irresponsible of them to not consider limiting the risk that taxpayers will be stuck with should a nuclear utility default, and the Office of Management and Budget is doing just that by requiring these fees.

Constellation’s decision probably places NRG Energy Inc., a Princeton, New Jersey-based power producer, in the lead for the next loan-guarantee award.  However, if the fees are this large, it might be a victory that NRG and its partners will also not necessarily want, dooming that project too.

NRG is seeking a guarantee to add two units at its South Texas power plant in Matagorda County.  The company is also seeking to secure Japanese government financing, but that is also contingent upon the project securing the US loan guarantee.  Perhaps this is a project that needs to be doomed.  Clearly the building of nuclear plants are so high risk that the private sector appears unwilling to take on that risk, without the US government (read US taxpayer) bearing the brunt of the risk.  If they put it up to a vote, I certainly wouldn’t vote to put my money into such a high risk project, would you?


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

Read Full Post »

Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith:

We are shocked to hear the news that former Austin Energy and Pedernales Electric Cooperative General Manager Juan Garza has taken a job promoting nuclear power with New Jersey-based NRG Energy. While Garza rightfully acknowledges the danger climate change poses to Texas, nuclear power’s life cycle carbon footprint, exorbitant cost and extreme construction time belie the claim that nuclear is a solution to the climate crisis.

Numerous independent analyses warn that new nuclear reactors are too expensive, including consultants to the City of Austin who twice recommended the city pass on investment in the proposed South Texas Project units 3 and 4 due to high risk and cost. San Antonio’s CPS Energy has cut off investment in the project. Municipal utilities and electric cooperatives should take heed of the nuclear industry’s poor track record of delivering new reactors on time and on budget. The cost of these reactors has more than trebled in three years and when we built the first two units they were 6 times over budget and 8 years late. There are cheaper, cleaner, faster ways to meet new power needs in a carbon-constrained world.


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.

Read Full Post »

In their recent report on how energy efficiency is bad for consumers in Texas, the Texas Public Policy Foundation took some time to tout nukes.

To distinguish the development of new nuclear reactors from the previous generation which was frought with cost overruns and delays, they claim the following (page 7-8):

“But unlike consumers from the 1980s, today’s consumers won’t be taking on the risk of cost overruns. In fact, they won’t be taking any risk at all. Once the new nuclear plants are complete, the price of the electricity sold from the plants will be determined by market forces. If the price is higher than the cost of the electricity, the plants will be profitable. If not, the plants will lose money. But it is the investors–not consumers–who will bear that risk.”

The investors will bear all the risk? Really? Well, published today is a report from Forbes.com that, in addition to announcing NRG’s dramatic scaling back on nuclear development (by some 95%) quotes NRG Energy’s CEO David Crane as saying he is:

“more comfortable when someone else takes risk.” (as in, the citizens of San Antonio?)

Ouch! I encourage y’all to read the full Forbes article and this one from last December, which notes that a major part of NRG’s strategy is to sell to municipally-owned utilities and electric cooperatives. They are medicine for those that think new nuclear is cost-competitive because they’re all about how dependent nuke developers are on federal loan guarantees (aka subsidies).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Also of interest is an article from this morning’s NYTimes that shows the cost of solar is now cheaper than the cost of nuclear, and a hot-off-the-presses article from Greg Harman at the San Antonio Current saying that with NRG taking so much investment out of developing the plant, and the US gov’t balking at more subsidies for this nuclear pork behemoth, that the only way to make the deal work is to get the governments of France and Japan to also help bail out their investors with, you guessed it- more loan guarantees. How many countries and government bailouts does it take to build a nuke plant in Texas?  Three, apparently.  Ahhh, nuclear power- it’s like fiscal conservative kryptonite. One mention of it and any and all pretense of being pro free market just disappears as they can’t stop lining up to the gravy train of pork, loan guarantees and subsidies. ~~Andy


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.

Read Full Post »

Agency Is Refusing to Adhere to an Order to Release Document That Would Help Determine Safety of New Nuclear Reactors

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) should stop balking and provide a critical document that would reveal how the owners of a Texas nuclear plant expansion project plan to deal with a fire or explosion, three public interest groups told the commission late last week.

Three administrative judges of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board have ordered the agency to provide at least a redacted version, but NRC staffers have refused. The NRC’s lack of transparency could impact the ability to get adequate safety-related information not only about the South Texas Project (STP) but about other proposed reactors around the country as well.

Late Friday, the groups – the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition, Public Citizen and the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy – filed a brief with the NRC. It noted that the NRC staff’s refusal to provide the information violated President Barack Obama’s new transparency policy. The groups also said the NRC is acting arbitrarily and trying to shut the public out of NRC proceedings.

“After the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress required new fire and safety standards for all new plants and the NRC developed rules to reflect this. Now, the NRC is trying to do its work behind closed doors, and its staffers are literally making up how to handle information as they go along, keeping as much secret as possible,” said Karen Hadden, executive director of the SEED Coalition. “Without disclosure of this information, we can’t tell how well the NRC is doing in protecting the public.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

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

Today’s announcement that as a part of a settlement with NRG Energy, CPS Energy will withdraw its application for a federal loan guarantee for the South Texas (Nuclear) Project (STP) expansion and end further investment in the project demonstrates nuclear plants are too costly and too risky to build.

CPS Energy and the San Antonio City Council have signaled their desire to stop throwing good money after bad at STP, a message we hope will tell the U.S. Department of Energy that this plant is a poor candidate for federal loan guarantees. This debacle should show the federal government that nuclear loan guarantees are a fundamentally flawed and wasteful use of taxpayer money.

At $18.2 billion, the cost of STP has already tripled in just a year. When STP 1 and 2 were built, they ended up being six times over-budget and eight years behind schedule, and STP 3 and 4 look like they are on track to beat out that poor performance record.

Today’s announcement is a victory for the many citizens of San Antonio that have worked so hard in the last year to bring openness and accountability to the city’s participation in this project. We applaud CPS for wisely seeing the futility of wasting more time and energy on this flawed nuclear endeavor. We hope that they will be satisfied with the deal they’ve gotten and avoid the temptation to increase their ownership in the project. CPS has finally reached a settlement that shields San Antonio ratepayers from the financial risks of yet another nuclear deal gone wrong. Any future investment would throw that protection to the wind.

On Thursday, the City Council will vote on a proposed rate increase for CPS. The City Council should put a firewall in that proposal to ensure that no unauthorized money will be siphoned off to buy a bigger stake in STP.  San Antonio can’t afford to let this rate increase become a back door to continued nuclear investment.

We also have to wonder how NRG will move forward, without another clearly delineated partner in the project. Less than a month ago, NRG announced that if CPS “does not meet future obligations representative of its ownership interest in the site”, they “will wind down the project as quickly and as economically as possible.” We certainly hope that NRG CEO David Crane will remain true to that expressed intent to protect his shareholders from the next financial failure in a long historic line of overly expensive, poorly executed nuclear projects.


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.

Read Full Post »

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


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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »