Solar Si, Nuclear No!

Citizens spoke at Austin City Hall to let city leaders know that purchasing more nuclear power is unacceptable.  NRG, the energy company that is the major owner of South Texas (Nuclear) Project,  is scrambling for investors in its proposed expansion of the plant, especially since a messy court battle with partner CPS Energy last year that ended with San Antonio reducing their 50% share down to just over 7%.  Reactor development had been costing San Antonio $30 million a month. After spending $370 million, CPS Energy sued NRG for $32 billion, accused NRG of fraud and conspiracy and spent $6.1 million on litigation to determine how get out of the partnership

NRG now wants Austin to buy into nuclear power through a power purchase agreement instead of direct investment.  (Click here to read our earlier post on the letter sent by NRG to Austin Energy.)  “Considering this messy history and the fact that reactor costs have tripled, why should Austin Energy even be talking about a nuclear deal with NRG?” asked Karen Hadden, Director of the SEED Coalition.  Watch the press conference video to see how other concerned citizens are responding to this new NRG tact.

[vimeo 20811734]

Solar Si, Nuclear No! Press Conference
Speakers, in order of appearance:
Karen Hadden, SEED Coalition
Frank Cooksey, Former Mayor of Austin
Susan Dancer, South Texas Association for Responsible Energy
Susana Almanza, PODER
Roy Waley, Vice Chair, Austin Regional Group of the Sierra Club”

The power purchase agreement would raise electric bills 20% or more and would cost $13 – $20 billion over the life of the reactors. These billions of dollars could do so much more if used for safe, clean renewable energy and efficiency projects..

Frank Cooksey, who was the Mayor of Austin from 1985-1988 when Austin was hemoraging money during the construction of the first two units at STP as cost overruns and construction delays caused the existing reactors to balloon to six times the original budget estimate and come online eight years late, said “I was serving during the time when those costs were placed into our electric utility rate base, resulting in large increases in the utility bills of our citizens. The angriest and most difficult public hearing that I ever presided over was the one that addressed the increases in electric rates generated by the high costs of construction of the STNP (South Texas Nuclear Project).”

Austin Energy has been a leader on energy efficiency and in developing solar projects, and other clean energy efforts that benefit our local economy.  The recently approved Austin Generation Plan, developed by a citizen task force with input from Austin Energy and approved by the City Council, builds on that legacy and did not include a power purchase agreement  with a nuclear project that Austin already decided was too risky to buy into as a partner.

Nuclear reactors would consume vast quantities of Colorado River water at a time when regional drought is expected to increase. No other form of power comes with such high security and terrorism risks and creating more radioactive waste adds to a problem that has not been solved.

Austin should steer clear of more nuclear power and pursue a safe and clean energy path.