Warren Buffett Wants a Subsidy From You

The nuclear industry is trying to crawl out of the depths after being damaged by the Fukushima Daiichi disaster last year. Soon after the disaster, Germany decided to shut down its nuclear plants in a phased manner and projects in the U.S. came under increased pressure.

That state of affairs looked to have taken a slight turn when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved two new 1,100-megawatt reactors in an expansion of one of Southern's (NYSE: SO  ) plants. So where does Buffett come in?

Somewhere in Middle America
The nuclear industry is attempting to expand the use of something called Construction Work in Progress, or CWIP, legal in only a few states, for financing of nuclear plants. Essentially what this means is that while a plant is being constructed, a utility can charge its customers for financing costs.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  ) subsidiary MidAmerican Energy Holdings wants to use this kind of financing to pay for a 540 MW nuclear plant somewhere in Iowa, and the legislature is mulling it over.

On the surface, the financing isn't a terrible idea. Instead of financing a plant itself, the utility charges customers over a longer period of time, and instead of a jump in utility bills when the plant is complete, customers see a slow rise in rates. The original CWIP plan in 2009 for Southern Company's Vogtle expansion said it would save $1.5 billion.

The reality is, the risk of nuclear projects is transferred to rate payers in this scenario, including the risk of increased costs. And costs have more than quadrupled for recent plants between the planning phase and actual construction.

Where is the outrage?
According to Georgia Power, residential customers are already paying $44 per year for nuclear plants that haven't been built and may never be built. That figure will rise to $120 per year by 2018, and let's not forget about the $3.4 billion in loan guarantees the company is seeking from the Department of Energy (the total project loan guarantee is $8.3 billion), without which the plants are dead in the water.

In Florida, Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN  ) is trying to cancel its Levy County nuclear plant construction contract, partly because costs ballooned from a range of $4 billion-$6 billion to $22 billion over the past six years. If, and probably when, the contract is canceled, I doubt that the utility will be giving back the $545 million customers have already paid. In fact, the costs will continue, because rate payers are on the hook for another $555 million for the plant that could produce less energy than a hamster wheel.

Buffett's subsidiary wants the same kind of charges to be applied in Iowa. Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment, says the CWIP costs could increase the average utility bill by $70 per month, before a single kilowatt hour is generated.

Why is this a big deal?
Normally, the risk of plant construction falls on the plant builder. So when NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG  ) decided to stop pursuing a nuclear plant in Texas, it was shareholders, not rate payers, who took the loss. But energy generators can't get the financing necessary to move their proposed nuclear plants forward. The solution? If the bond market won't bear the risk, put it on rate payers.

Once CWIP financing has begun, all sorts of problems arise. Southern is using the "sunk cost" argument in an effort to continue its nuclear project, arguing that if it quit now, as much as $4 billion would go down the drain -- $4 billion that Georgia electricity users have already paid for in their utility bills. So why not continue, even though the project is behind schedule and way behind its original budget?

Foolish bottom line
If nuclear power can't be built with traditional financing and without government backing, I'm wondering why we're still pursuing it. It isn't as if this is a new technology that's safer, cheaper, or cleaner than anything else we have. Quite the contrary. Nuclear power is more expensive than most other power sources, it's obviously dangerous, and it produces waste that stays around for centuries.

If I were an Iowa ratepayer I wouldn't want to give this kind of subsidy to Warren Buffett. He can finance the project himself.

Do you agree? Sound off in our comments section below.

Nuclear power may be having a hard time in the U.S., but there is one energy stock our analysts think will benefit no matter what energy source we use. Find out what it is in our free report.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings, or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Southern and Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (39) | Recommend This Article (18)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 8:50 AM, Apacheman15 wrote:

    Warren Buffett has a responsibility to make money for his shareholders within the laws of the land. Period. Just the same as if you wholly owned a company and you would try to make money for yourself within the boundaries of the law. He has no obligation or moral responsibility to finance any projects himself if the law rules otherwise.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 9:13 AM, Jbay76 wrote:

    I would be irate if I had to pay up front, monthly, a fee to build a nuclear power plant that may one day provide me with electricity. I do not think we should pay for a service before that service is rendered, especially if the possibility of not getting that service rendered is as great as it is with building a new nuclear power plant.

    On a side note, I think it is absolutely saddening that energy companies focus on making the energy as profitable as possible but forget about identifying the best disposal method. We still put spent rods in thick cement blocks and bury it thinking that is OK, but apparently its not since we are no longer burying the spent rods in Yucca Mountain.

    in any case, I am with you Travis. These companies should fund their projects through debt or equity financing and then, once the service can be rendered to the public, they recoup their costs just like any other company. If they are unable to do so, oh friggin'

    well. Innovate and make the process more affordable, but don't charge me for your desire to develop your business until you have a product to offer! For those that disagree with me, pay my share and I'll pay you back once the product is available!

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 9:22 AM, chrisog wrote:

    I, for one, hate that the government subsidizes anything. But, if they were going to subsidize something - then this might be one of the least objectionable things I can think of.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 9:44 AM, deepestvalue wrote:

    The question, at least for me, is whether we can ensure that the radioactive material NEVER gets out.

    Yes, it may be that a Tsunami will never reach Iowa, BUT, a earthquake moved the reactors in Virginia a few feet. How can we ensure that nuclear material is ALWAYS safely contained?

    Maybe Germany has a point: Nuclear Power can never be safe enough.

    Solar Power or Wind Power or Hydroelectricity OR reduce energy use?

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 10:01 AM, Nick010 wrote:

    Maybe Warren Buffet can use the extra taxes he wants to pay to the government to fund the project. Maybe his secretary can contribute as well. Why are they putting us on the hook for this?

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 11:01 AM, caltex1nomad wrote:

    It is a common misconception that Nuclear is more expensive than other forms of energy. Start--up costs are more but, in the long run it evens out. The newer Nuclear technologies that you will see in the next ten years will be safer, cleaner and less costly. I agree about the rate payers. They need to issue bonds or the utility companies need to pay for it themselves.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 11:29 AM, MDMDoyle wrote:

    @Deepestvalue

    You could invest in Canadian Candu Nuclear Technology. Its the only safe nuclear technology on the planet. It is gaurenteed to not melt down as it uses a light water design. Doesn't require enriched uranium and doesnt produce anything close to nuclear grade plutonium.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 11:30 AM, MDMDoyle wrote:

    Weapons grade**

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 11:33 AM, TMFFlushDraw wrote:

    @caltex1nomad

    The EIA estimates that a nuclear power plant now costs $5.34 to build, up 37% from 2011. Southern company's nuclear plant will cost $6.36 per watt to build. A similar natural gas plant would cost about $1 per watt.

    A california Energy Commission study estimated that cost per kWhr would be $0.17 to $0.34 by the time a plant could be built.

    Recent data shows that nuclear is more expensive than every other major source of energy that's being built today even before we consider the subsidies nuclear energy must rely on. Even solar and wind are less expensive to build today.

    If you have data that shows that the levelized cost of energy for nuclear is lower than other alternative options I'll be happy to look at it.

    Travis Hoium

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 11:35 AM, knighttof3 wrote:

    Caltex1 has it right.

    You need to decouple the outrage over rate payers bearing the risk without any attendant rewards; and the merits or flaws of nuclear energy. The first is odious, the second is debatable.

    On an unrelated note, saying Warren Buffett is just following the law is disingenuous. I hate to echo Elliot Spitzer but with his kind of privilege come higher standards. When you have the willingness and the ability to influence law-making, you can't hide behind the letter of the law.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 11:37 AM, knighttof3 wrote:

    Travis, when you consider the cost of the natural gas plant; are you including the cost of the pipeline and the cost of getting it out of the ground? Neither are significant for nuclear.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 11:42 AM, knighttof3 wrote:

    Not to mention the cost of fuel over its lifetime - I suspect nuclear would be 1% of natural gas!

    "Recent data shows that nuclear is more expensive than every other major source of energy that's being built today ..."

    DoE disagrees. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Levelized_energy_cost_char...

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 12:00 PM, cfischer30 wrote:

    Perhaps we should look to safer alternative sources like:

    Gas (except for earthquakes and ground water contamination)

    Oil (Deepwater Horizon, Exxon Valdez, Political instability, CO2 and other uncontained polutants that hang around for quite a while)

    Coal (Upper big branch, NOx, SO2, CO2)

    Solar, Wind -- promising, but not cost effective.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 12:18 PM, Orthonormal wrote:

    Citing your own article as a reference for your comment on the safety of nuclear power? Really, now...

    Claiming that it's "obviously unsafe" is as superficial a treatment of the issue as the one you are criticizing when you talk about CWIP financing seeming okay on the surface.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 12:26 PM, TMFFlushDraw wrote:

    @knighttof3

    The chart you cited shows coal, advanced coal, CCC nat gas, ACC nat gas, ACT natural gas, win, hydro, biomass, and geothermal are all less than advanced nuclear. Plus, the data is old and costs have gone up based on cost revisions for plants in the last year.

    The 2012 EIA annual energy outlook preview says: "New natural gas-fired plants

    also are much cheaper to build than new renewable or nuclear plants."

    http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/er/pdf/0383er(2012).pdf

    Data for capital costs can be seen below on slide 17. Notice the 37% rise in estimated costs for nuclear from 2010 to 2011. This data is a year old and was the basis for the cost of energy in the EIA table you cited above.

    http://www.eia.gov/neic/speeches/newell_12162010.pdf

    @cfischer30

    Solar and wind are both cost effective. Although it's much too long of an explanation to cover in a comment. See my solar work on fool.com.

    Travis Hoium

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 12:45 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    Warren Buffett is nothing but another government parasite.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 12:46 PM, KingOfPizza wrote:

    Let me get this straight - the customers are expected to pay more now so they can pay even more later? Shouldn't consumers get a say in what kind of power they buy and at what price? Or does Federal energy policy trump individual freedoms?

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 12:47 PM, TopAustrianFool wrote:

    Warren Buffett is another parasite. Living from government subsidies. He could just forgo all of these subsidies and stop the "I'll match your contribution to the deficit" grandstanding.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 12:58 PM, TexanSooner wrote:

    If CWIP takes 1.5B off of the cost of a nuke then it is a good investment. States which are deregulated like Texas put the burden on shareholders, but states like Georgia which are regulated put the burden on rate payers. There is a cost to regulation - regulated utilities get a monopoly, and they get to recoup 'prudent' costs - the PUC determins both the rate of return and whether something is 'prudent' and may be recouped by ratepayers. Granted, the capital costs of building a nuke are huge compared to a gas fired plant, however the fuel costs and operating costs are much more competitive with nukes. The Georgia PUC and ratepayers have enjoyed the stability and low costs associated with Vogtle 1 and 2, along with Hatch 1 and 2. When Southern began looking at expansion (before Fukishima) they were strongly encouraged by the PUC and many residents to consider nuclear power. US nukes have a great safety record and a great operating record over the last 20 years. Along with that great operating record has come a dramatic cost reduction as well, making nukes quite competitive with fossil fueled stations. Before banning CWIP, analyze the facts - if it saves money in the long run, it is worth doing.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 1:04 PM, knighttof3 wrote:

    Travis, I am simply making the point that capital cost to build a plant is a small part of the story, other costs such as continuous fuel supply (uranium, coal, oild or natural gas) matter. A LOT. Your article selectively emphasizes capital cost to make it look like nuclear:gas costs are $6.35:$1.

    What http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Levelized_energy_cost_char... shows is that nuclear is comparable and competitive. I understand it goes against the thrust of your arguments but unfortunately, it's reality.

    Here is some ammunition for you. I am sure nuclear will come out worse if you can quantify externalities, such as the costs for storing spent fuel. Especially compared to natural gas, of which US has plenty of reserves (except that fracking, despite industry's protestations to the contrary, seems to be extermely polluting.) Oil has the external cost of being underground is politically difficult countries like Russia, Venezuela and the Middle Eastern countries.

    Hmm. Maybe it's not a black and white issue at all. The cheese-eating surrender monkeys, aka the French, might have it right after all.

    I still agree with your first point (that should get me some brownie points) that asking rate payers to pay for construction upfront is a bit too much. Utilities should issue bonds esp in this low-rate environment and esp if they have BRK's credit rating behind them (or even MidAmerican's, by itself.)

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 1:19 PM, RockySchueppert wrote:

    Here is a link to a very interesting "Frontline" investigation for anyone with doubts about nuclear:

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/nuclear-aftershocks/

    My thoughts on nuclear power follow along the lines of that show. Are there risks associated with nuclear? Obviously. Are there plants that shouldn't be in operation? Yes. Should we prohibit nuclear power? Absolutely not! Knee jerk reactions are almost never the answer.

    Nuclear power is the only proven, clean alternative to fossil fuels that can supply our base load requirements.

    In a perfect world, where it rains beer and I can taste it through my skin, we could have on demand wind and solar. Alas, our world is far from perfect.

    Nuclear power is here to stay, like it or not.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 1:25 PM, SunDevilDon wrote:

    Warren wants this because of his MidAmerican Energy Holdings holdings? Who is the major manufacturer of nuclear reactors in the US? GE. Guess who owns shares in GE (or at least use to)?

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 1:56 PM, bherber wrote:

    At this very point in time, there is no better energy alternative than nuclear fission. It is clean, efficient and safe.

    Most of our electricity and energy currently produced in the United States is by coal. This is not clean as the waste product is carbon dioxide into the atmostphere. The by-products of nuclear fission are - 1) water vapor & 2) plutonium and radioactive material which is buried underground and has no harmful effect whatsoever.

    Fission is much more efficient than anything else we currently have.

    It is also the safest. Many more people die from mining coal than do from working in a nuclear power plant. People tend to fear unlikely catastrophes and disasters that seldomly occur. The decision to go with nuclear and coal is akin the decision to travel by plane or automobile. As everyone knows, traveling by plane is much safer than traveling by car; however, many people fear plane travel. It is the same thing with nuclear energy.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 2:54 PM, CaptainWidget wrote:

    Nuclear is a subsidized mess. Without the price-anderson act, nuclear is a completely uneconomical mess. You'd think Buffet would know this, being an insurance man.

    Oh wait, he does know it.....

    Warren Buffet: Former worlds greatest investor, currently world's great crony

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 3:31 PM, Suzannegrant wrote:

    This article has at least one fact wrong. Progress Energy has not canceled the Levy County nuclear project.

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 4:00 PM, TMFFlushDraw wrote:

    @Suzannegrant

    You're right. I have a fix in the works.

    Progress Energy is trying to cancel its construction contract, not the whole project, yet. Company officials still say they're trying to move it forward.

    Thanks,

    Travis Hoium

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2012, at 6:59 PM, Hawmps wrote:

    Apacheman15 makes an excellent comment (#1). I don't necessarily like it, especially from a rate payer's point of view, but it is a brillient strategy from a business point of view and reduces the risk to the business significantly. No matter how you slice it, bonds, debt financing, private equity, whatever... the rate payer will inevitably pick up the tab anyway. Shareholders... love the idea; rate payers... not so much.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2012, at 6:07 AM, BarryMiami wrote:

    Buffet has built BH on OPM. BH does not pay

    a dividend; it just receives them. So why should

    it be a surprise that he wants to take advanatge

    of a system whereby the rate payer pays for an

    installation and the utility owns it; sweetest deal

    around. Only way to get even is to buy utility company stock; a license to steal, just like an

    NRC license to operate a nuclear plant whcih only the U.S.Govt will underwrite; Wall Street will not.

    Mean while, Germany is 6 years ahead of us in

    renewable energy technology and equipment. They are dumping nuclear; Buffet is following the

    money, our money, as usual. Wake up people. pauu .wi

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2012, at 11:15 AM, Misesfriend wrote:

    Buffett's genius lies in seeing things as they are, not how he would like for them to be--and then capitalizing on that reality.

  • Report this Comment On February 25, 2012, at 2:05 PM, TexanSooner wrote:

    @BarryMiami - I would not classify Germany as 'ahead of us' in moving to renewables - renewable energy sounds nice but it isn't. Base load plant is vital to grid stability, but there is not a renewable out there including hydroelectric (other than wet times of the year) which is sufficiently reliable to do away with base load plant capability (like nuclear or fossil fired power stations). Watch ERCOT.org in the summer time, and look at the 10000MW+ wind generation installed in Texas - that generation source is typically down in the hottest part of the warmer months - when it is needed the most. Replacing a 1000MW nuke with solar or wind is ludicrous if you have to operate a factory or have any hope of reliable power (like a hospital) unless you want to run your own gas plant. Right now and probably for the next 5-10 years, gas is pretty competitive, but in 2003-4 in Texas at least, gas hit $9/mmBTU and spiked above $15, making nukes very attractive - both from a cost standpoint and from an emissions standpoint. The waste stream is an issue, but the real answer is to reprocess the waste and burn the transuranics in another fuel cycle, not bury them - that would reduce the burial 'timeline' to a couple hundred years at best rather than the geologic time periods bandied about for Yucca. I predict the Germans will be back in the nuclear business or see their economy wrecked within 10 years.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2012, at 1:06 PM, RussellLowes wrote:

    The cost for nuclear energy is far too high. Thanks to the author of this article for pointing this out in subsequent comments.

    The last round of nukes cost $3100/kilowatt of capacity to build in the mid 1980s. If you run that price out to today, using an inflation calculator, and then add 4% a year inflation (a common rate used for the future) until 2022 (ten years is the average construction time), you get about $8800/KW of capacity. At this rate, the cost of electricity from nukes will be about 24 cents/kWhe, to the meter, on average.

    Nuclear electricity is far more expensive than wind, solar, natural gas, and especially energy efficiency, which averages under 3 cents/kWhe.

    Russell Lowes

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2012, at 1:10 PM, RussellLowes wrote:

    Germany knows that the cost of nuclear energy outweighs a thoughtful blend of energy efficiency, renewable energy while slowly phasing out fossil-fuel-based electricity.

    They will take an economic hit at first because of the building of a new paradigm, but will come out great in the long run!

    This will put them in a much better place to be competitive in the global marketplace.

    Russell Lowes

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2012, at 8:12 PM, TexanSooner wrote:

    Germany doesn't really know the true cost of renewables - when their base loaded nukes and coal plants come off line, they will find out rather quickly - the French are more than willing to sell them electricity. As are the Russians. As for 10 years, there is no reason a nuclear plant cannot be built in 5-6 years from groundbreaking. With the implementation of a combined operating license, much of the regulatory burden is now in the initial license process, not after investing a few billion as it did in the 70's and 80's. I spent 7 years in the 80's at a construction site, which could have run safely in 1984 but took another six years to start up, due to regulatory issues. I am well aware of what it takes to build and operate a nuclear plant now. (and the costs as well)

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2012, at 11:18 PM, RussellLowes wrote:

    A broken record is what I am hearing from TexanSooner. The nuclear industry kept saying over and over in the 1970s and 80s that they would be able to shorten the construction timeline -- to no avail. They said the reactors would come down in cost and they instead went up in cost (in real dollars) through the entire series of over 100 reactors. There are just too many balls to keep up in the air for these sites to pull through in less time and for less money. Ten years is the average in the U.S., and the costs will never go down in real dollars. Hence nukes will be more expensive than wind, solar, natural gas, etc.

    This industry is not about doing the right thing -- it is all about making an obscene amount of money from taxpayers and ratepayers.

  • Report this Comment On February 28, 2012, at 2:56 PM, MyAtom wrote:

    Travis and others need to understand that utility service is a basic necessity in a modern society. The costs of service are spread evenly in electricity rates based on usage while the cost of infrastructure is borne by all consumers in a service territory.

    Construction while in progress (CWIP) allows a utility to recover financing costs and return on equity. This allows the utility to avoid paying “interest on interest” if all costs are held until the plant goes into service. CWIP is expected to save Southern Company’s ratepayers over $1.5 billion during the life of the plant. The utility also has improved cash flows through CWIP that support stronger financial ratings, which result in lower interest costs for the project and all other utility investments over the long term. CWIP is allowed by public utilities and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to support the construction of baseload electricity plants and transmission lines because it saves money for consumers and gets necessary infrastructure constructed.

    If you think as Travis that the Vogtle plant “may never be built,” than perhaps you should go to Waynesboro, Ga., where within hours of receiving the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approval of its construction and operating license on February 9, Southern Co. began building the nuclear-specific parts of the plant complex that will include two new reactors at the plant scheduled to begin operations in 2016 and 2017. Construction of the two reactors will employ up to 3,500 workers at peak and provide 800 permanent jobs. It is the largest construction project in the history of the state of Georgia.

    These new reactors will operate for up to 60 years providing low-cost electricity that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases to more than one million homes and businesses.

  • Report this Comment On February 29, 2012, at 12:59 PM, TheDeliveryGuy wrote:

    Huh, and if you read the report you site Levelized means that they add a no-existant carbon tax onto the WACC used to calculate the rate. (7.4% vs 10.4%. ) So nat gas, oil and coal are even more competative in the real world than the DoE shows.

  • Report this Comment On March 04, 2012, at 10:49 AM, kipp33 wrote:

    I guess the oil companys should jump on the bandwagon and up the price at the pump so we can pay for their new refinery's.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2012, at 12:28 PM, mjmce wrote:

    Buffet is not merely trying to mitigate his risk through ratepayer subsidy, he is maximizing cash flow by getting help with up-front debt service. This is clearly in his company's best interest but not ratepayers who are captives of the local utility market. I would be different if ratepayers had a choice of suppliers (as some do) and could sidestep Buffet's project subsidies. Buffet's company should find another way to convince the bond market to help near-term financing of his mega-projects, not ratepayers and certainly not taxpayers through loan guarantees. If traditional investors won't underwrite the project, why should ratepayers or others who have no say in the matter?

  • Report this Comment On March 14, 2012, at 6:34 PM, reichar8691 wrote:

    I live in Iowa so have been hearing about this issue. I also live in a community that has its own electric company. The local electric company has its own generator so that it can generate "peak" electricity and purchases the base load from other producers.

    The community electric company (it is owned by the town) started charging us an additional $10/month last year for a similar purpose. The community electric company is planning to invest in additional electric production with a for-profit company and the investment with help ensure base electricity and a base rate. I am not aware if the investment is intended to be in a natural gas, coal burning or nuclear plant.

    I was not given a choice in the matter. The charge just showed up on my bill. (OK, if I would have read the electric company's minutes that are printed in the newspaper, I would have known earlier).

    The options that MidAmerican Energy is trying to utilize are already being used by other electric companies and for more than just nuclear production

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