5 Facts That Sink Nuclear Power

Nuclear power has been a hot political issue for a few decades now. The energy source is relatively abundant and clean burning, something most consumers should love at a time when emissions and energy scarcity are so important.

But after the Fuskushima disaster in Japan two years ago the industry's momentum has been slowed to say the least. Earlier this week, fellow Fool Maxx Chatsko posted an article with facts meant to demystify nuclear energy. Some of the items were interesting, like the density of nuclear energy, but it glossed over five items that will doom nuclear power in the long term.

Nuclear power isn't cost effective
There's a reason natural gas, wind, and solar power are now the most popular new power generation assets in the U.S. -- they're cost effective. One thing that nuclear advocates never fully discuss is the cost of a nuclear plant or how much the power coming out of it will cost.

Let's take a look at one plant going through the approval process in Florida -- Progress Energy's (NYSE: PGN  ) 1.1 GW Levy County nuclear project.

The Levy County project was originally supposed to cost $5 billion to build and be operational by 2016. Today, estimates by the company itself put project costs at $19 billion-$24 billion and operation by 2024 at best. What does that mean to ratepayers (before added costs that I'll get to in a minute)?

At a nuclear plant there is a large capital expense and then ongoing costs for fuel, maintenance, etc. Let's just look at the capital expense of $24 billion (these projects are never under budget).

If the nuclear plant were to be finished, the depreciation alone over 30 years would be $0.083  per kW-hr. That's assuming the plant would never shut down and doesn't include maintenance cost, profit, no interest cost, or fuel. Adding these costs would bring it closer to $0.20 per kW-hr, which brings me to...

The California Energy Commission did a study in 2011 that determined nuclear power would cost between $0.17 and $0.34 per kW-hr. That's nowhere near competitive with natural gas, wind, or solar.  

By comparison, First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR  ) is building a plant in New Mexico that will be open 2014 and will cost ratepayers $0.0579 per kW-hr. Nuclear power is simply too expensive.  

Government subsidies save nuclear power from extinction
If you think government subsidies are bad in wind or solar you haven't seen anything yet. The government explicitly limits the liability nuclear power plant owners have, which is the only way any nuclear plant is ever built. Without limited liability insurers wouldn't touch solar and investors wouldn't give the funding companies need.

Then there's the completely abhorrent act of using Construction Work in Progress, or CWIP, to build plants. This allows utilities to charge customers for a plant as it's being built. If the project stalls or costs go up it isn't the utility that is on the hook, it's ratepayers. In Georgia, Southern (NYSE: SO  ) subsidiary Georgia Power used CWIP to begin construction on its new Vogtle nuclear plant expansion, a plant that has become so expensive it should be dead in its tracks. Ratepayers are already paying $44 per year for the project that needed an $8.3 billion government guarantee and by 2018 that will balloon to $164 per year.  

In Florida, the same Levy County project I mentioned above wants to charge customers a half-cent per kW-hr fee starting this year for a plant that wouldn't be completed until 2024 at best. That's nearly a 5% increase in everyone's electricity bill for something companies should be paying for in the first place.  

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B  ) subsidiary MidAmerican Energy has even tried to use CWIP for its nuclear plants. Like Buffett needs the financing help.

Nuclear isn't cost effective even with government support, especially considering companies need ratepayers to foot the bill ahead of time.

Bill Gates won't save nuclear
TerraPower has given some nuclear buffs reason to hope for its future, but this is like betting on winning the lottery. The company hopes to begin building a demonstration plant in 2016 and start it up in 2020. That's seven years before TerraPower proves its concept, assuming all goes well.

Let me give a hint here; these new technology launches never go as planned. TerraPower is trying to build an entirely new kind of reactor that will come will unknown challenges. If we see something running in a decade I would be shocked.

Which brings me back to the cost argument. With the cost of clean technology costs falling wouldn't it be better to focus on something we'll really need in a decade; something like energy storage.

Not in my backyard
The next reason nuclear power isn't worth betting on is that no one wants it built or stored in their backyard. Residents of Nevada have been fighting the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository for more than a decade, not wanting nuclear waste in their backyards. The same thing is going on in Utah where the Skull Valley site has come up against major opposition. Where do we put all of this spent fuel from this "clean" energy source?

People aren't exactly happy about a nuclear plant in their backyards either. Residents strongly opposed the relicensing of the Pilgrim nuclear plant in Massachusetts owned by Entergy (NYSE: ETR  ) . Germany will shut down all nuclear plants in the country by 2022 and Japan has certainly changed its tune in relation to nuclear power.

The public sentiment simply isn't in the industry's favor.

Unsafe for those not taking risks
In his article earlier this week, Chatsko cited a number of safety statistics relating to nuclear power. He says: "For every terawatt hour of electricity generation, there were 161 coal-related deaths, four natural gas-related deaths, 0.15 wind-related deaths, and 0.04 nuclear-related deaths." 

The difference is in the risks people take in relation to these energy sources. Coal miners take enormous risk and we tragically lose many of them every year. There are tower climbers on wind towers who also take risks, risks you know about before you climb a giant wind tower.

But the people near Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima never thought their homes or their health were in danger simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's what scares people about nuclear power, not the total death toll but who these risks affect.

Foolish bottom line
Debunk all of the myths you want about nuclear power but it isn't worth investing in. New plants aren't the answer to cheaper energy, cleaner energy, or safer energy. The U.S., Europe, and Japan are rethinking nuclear altogether and countries like China are putting their full weight behind solar and wind, not nuclear power.

I don't think nuclear power will die tomorrow and as efficiency increases uranium suppliers might enjoy some nice growth in coming years. But overall this isn't a sector to be bullish about. There are simply too many things working against it -- first and foremost economics.

How to play energy now
Outside of nuclear, there are many different ways to play the energy sector, and The Motley Fool's analysts have uncovered an under-the-radar company that's dominating its industry. This company is a leading provider of equipment and components used in drilling and production operations, and poised to profit in a big way from it. To get the name and detailed analysis of this company that will prosper for years to come, check out the special free report: "
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  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2013, at 4:06 PM, CheshireUK2011 wrote:

    I have never read so much rubbish in all my life. The facts are confused and simply do not stand up to close examination.

    I agree that the costs of building nuclear power stations are high, but if you look a projects completed recently in China you will see costs of construction much lower than the US figures that you quote.

    Solar power will not heat our houses in the depths of winter and if you think back to Christmas 2010 in the UK we were becalmed with no wind power available for nearly two weeks whilst temperatures were well below zero. Nuclear Power will provide power here in the UK as part of a Portfolio of generating capacity. Nuclear fuel can also be stockpiled to provide secure energy supplies at times of world demand and political rest.

    Bet against New Nuclear Power Generation around the world at your peril!

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2013, at 7:13 PM, Merton123 wrote:

    The oil business are using fracking to get the last remnants of natural gas and oil in the united states. Fracking is inserting water at high pressure to get the various lasts bits of carbon fuel. How many more years before we run out of natural gas? Then the businesses who are able to build nuclear plants on an emergency basis will make a real killing. Buy GE and wait for the perfect storm to come when fracking is unable to push out any more carbon fuel.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2013, at 7:21 PM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    Hey Travis,

    First off, great counter article. There is little debating most of the points you lay out - nuclear power is much costlier in dollar terms. I've noted in a prior article that Southern Company will be passing $6 billion for the cost of its two new reactors to consumers in the next several years. Yikes! That is a pricey 2,200 MW!

    While cost will likely stem the adoption and consideration of new reactors, I think it is dangerous to base safety concerns surrounding the energy source on decades-old technology. For instance, Fukushima's three reactors were constructed between 1967 and 1976.

    Of course, age concerns don't bode well for reactors currently scattered across America. I just wanted people to consider that newer reactors are much safer than they think. It's similar to people writing-off solar or other renewables without first digging into the facts for the technologies in 2013.

    Also note that the deaths per tWh of generation include civilian deaths from the energy sources. That's actually why I left solar out of the stat - apparently a lot of people die falling off of roofs.

    Footnote: I went to the biggest treehugger university in the country, so I'm all for renewables. I'm certainly glad to see technology improving and costs coming down because as we both know, the potential impacts of cheap, renewable energy will be profound.

    Nonetheelss, thanks for the great counter article.

    --Maxxwell

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2013, at 7:56 PM, michaelkm88 wrote:

    Computers are too big, too costly, and will never be affordable to the average citizen. Outside government and scientific communities computers will never get a foot hold. Sound familiar? You think we should give up because the cost is too much as of now? Do you know how technology works? clearly not...

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2013, at 8:26 PM, NOTvuffett wrote:

    Hey, how about this? Why not let the free market decide what is best. When the time for solar or whatever is right, Mr. Market will say so.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2013, at 9:34 PM, snommis69 wrote:

    The cost of nuclear would come down exponentially if the "fear factor" was removed and reasonable regulation was in place. The capacity of a nuke plant is far, far higher than that of conventional plants. I'm a former nuclear worker - the costs to conform to silly regulation driven by FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) is a big part of what makes it expensive.

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2013, at 11:05 PM, TMFCrocoStimpy wrote:

    @merton123

    If I recall correctly, the estimated natural gas reserves in the US are about ~100 years. That is one LONG investing horizon :)

  • Report this Comment On February 21, 2013, at 11:48 PM, NOTvuffett wrote:

    @TMFCrocoStimpy, the 100 year thing is if we used nat. gas for everything. Obviously, we won't do that.

    In another thread about nuclear energy, thorium based reactors were mentioned. As far as I know, these reactors are based on a Th232 to U233 breeder technology. It is unproven in a scaled up test, but it shows great promise. Thorium is about as abundant as lead in the Earth's crust. I have been down in mines that sparkled like silver and gold. The silver was mostly galena, the gold was mostly pyrite or calcopyrite.

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2013, at 3:56 AM, DavidWTaylor wrote:

    Renewable Energy Could Account For 80 Percent Of World's Needs By 2050: UN

    Solar Energy can give the answer, Solar Sector stocks are recently up ~100% in a good agreement with this forecast: http://bit.ly/UPl4Jh

    Good Luck!

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2013, at 6:49 AM, devoish wrote:

    Travis,

    Good article, you get a rec for it.

    I do not think you should downplay the risks of nuclear power though with this sentence ; "But the people near Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima never thought their homes or their health were in danger simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

    The fact is that all three of these events risked the health of Californians too, way outside the immediate concern to someones backyard.

    I think this is a reat point that TMFBlackandGold misunderstands; "While cost will likely stem the adoption and consideration of new reactors, I think it is dangerous to base safety concerns surrounding the energy source on decades-old technology. For instance, Fukushima's three reactors were constructed between 1967 and 1976."

    Even after Chernobyl and Fukushima we have not had a "worst case" nuclear accident and yet all those NIMBY's we denigrate for protecting their back yards are probably sounding like heroes to their neighbors.

    But to your suggestion that old nuclear technology is unsafe and was enough of a contributing factor to the Fukushima disaster that newer, modern technology can mitigate that risk is a very good argument for shutting down the existing "old nuclear technology" and proving that it can be done, putting the rights of the health and property of a nuclear plants neighbors over the rights of investors to income derived from passing their risks onto their neighbors.

    Vermont Yankee on the shores of the Connecticut river is even older and physically collapsing. When it does collapse it will dump nuclear waste into the Connecticut river and that waste will flow down through Hartford to the Long Island sound and then to New York City.

    But this level of risk to the life liberty and pursuit of happiness of those who will suffer the ill effects from the collapse is not enough to get the plant closed down because investors might lose money.

    Sadly, after decades of handing cash to executives and investors the owners of Vermont Yankee do not have the financial resources to close the plant.

    How is that going to work out?

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2013, at 7:22 AM, TMFBlacknGold wrote:

    @devoish

    Great points. I actually used to live a few miles from the Oyster Creek facility in New Jersey, which is the oldest in the country. After 9/11, our school would send home permission forms each year to our parents requesting the right to administer iodine pills/injections should anything go wrong.

    There were also siren drills for the surrounding towns that were longer and louder than those of the fire departments - tests to get citizens acquainted with the differences in the event of an accident.

    So, I certainly understand the NIMBY side of the story. And while I acknowledge that the country's fleet is aging, as a man of science, I can also acknowledge that newer reactors are exponentially safer. As Travis points out that means little given the cost - and fears.

    Let's not forget that NIMBYs have also successfully stopped several high profile renewable energy projects - mainly expansive, low-cost wind farms - from being built in the last decade. It's not quite fair to only suggest it happens to nuclear.

    --Maxxwell

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2013, at 8:04 AM, The1MAGE wrote:

    It should be pointed out that the costs are multiplied due to government regulations, and fighting politicians , lobbyists, the EPA, and a whole host of special interests, plus plenty of people who are simply uninformed. 10's of millions of dollars would be spent, and many years would pass before it was even approved to build a nuke plant.

    According to what I have found is that "Over half of the cost of nuclear power plant construction is directly related to the cost of licensing, approval and other bureaucratic expenses."

    It actually takes only 40 to 60 months to build one. (From the first pouring of concrete to the acceptance of fuel.) Throw in one more year for preparing the land.

    In the last 2 responses (as I write this) there was the comment about Chernobyl, (and a couple others,) and how this was not the worst we could expect. But Chernobyl was the most poorly designed nuclear plant around. Not designed for power, but for the production of warhead material, and without any of the safety designs they full well knew about. In this country you would go to jail for building something like that.

    Then the mention of 9/11 fears. People's fears are real, but they shouldn't be. Nuclear plants are actually one of the worst targets for a terrorist attack, as stated by an expert. (Sorry I do not recall the name of the expert in the interview.)

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2013, at 9:22 AM, devoish wrote:

    TMFBlacknGold,

    Are you using the word "fears" to suggest they are emotional and not based in observable reality?

    Hopefully not. Hopefully you are using the word fears to suggest that intelligent, scientific men and women are correct to fear ridiculously dangerous things.

    In fact, to suggest that a "modern" nuclear power plant will be built more safely than the ones that should be retired now is probably just plain wrong and that is mostly because of our subservience to the financial industry.

    You have to make the bank money.

    If you have to subcontract to the lowest bidder to do that it is fine. If that lowest bidder needs to make a mortgage payment to his bank and he has to slip a little more lime into the concrete mix to lower costs it is either that or lose his house.

    As long as we are in an economy that is unwilling to add the cash required to pay interest into the economy when we write loans, we are going to continue building a financial industry and nothing else.

    With that said, if you could fund the building of a small "modern design" nuclear power plant without the pressure of coming in under budget, and instead under the pressure of doing it right as a showcase model we could test and use to advance the technology and prove the theory, I could be for that.

    I would like to see the funding in place to take it apart, because that has proven an almost insurmountable hurdle to the safety of people living near the current generation of aging plants.

    Right now the only thing that American business really excels at is lying through marketing. For the reasons above I do not trust corporate America to do very much of anything well. Certainly not to put the concerns of safety of their neighbors above paychecks for themselves. So for me, I would take a page out of the right wing playbook for the owners, executives and regulators of any nuclear power plant. If they believe it is safe, they and their families should live there for longer than the operating license.. Construction workers and builders and their families should be offered inexpensive housing.

    I do believe that having a personal interest in quality makes you want a higher standard of quality.

    I do not believe having only a financial interest does.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2013, at 6:23 PM, walithomas wrote:

    Right on Travis!!! Nobody yet has come up with a foolproof way to deal with hi level nuclear waste without contaminating something. Where are those tons and tons of stored waste going to go??? This is a million year problem, not to mention dollars. Many thanks to the Price- Anderson Act for taking the liability burden off of our vaunted industrial brothers.

    Perhaps the economics of the industry will be the last nail in the lead lined coffin!

    From a former Navy Nuclear Power plant operator

  • Report this Comment On February 22, 2013, at 7:50 PM, velo15 wrote:

    America isn't and won't drive nuclear stocks. India, Russia and China will. Nice article but not really relevant to the market In global terms.

  • Report this Comment On February 23, 2013, at 11:17 AM, kinosternon wrote:

    I must agree with CheshireUK2011. Lots of rubbish. NIMBY applies big time to wind power. The late Ted Kennedy was a big proponent of wind until an independent group paid for by the taxpayers concluded that the best place for a wind farm was Martha's Vineyard. Kennedy stopped that quickly as it was too close to his backyard. Construction of solar panels produces tons of toxic waste that is transported all over the country so that it can be disposed of properly and those transportation costs are not calculated in the cost of solar power. Many posters here have commented on the idiotic federal regulations that apply to nuclear power. Wind and solar are probably the most heavily subsidized forms of energy on a BTU basis. Nuclear is clean and green--more so than wind and solar when all is considered. Go Nukes!!

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2013, at 2:55 AM, devoish wrote:

    "The greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting this waste is not insignificant," Mulvaney said.

    Mulvaney noted that shipping, for example, 6.2 million pounds of waste by heavy-duty tractor-trailer from Fremont, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay area, to a site 1,800 miles away could add 5 percent to a particular product's carbon footprint.

    Such scores are important because they provide transparency to government and consumers into just how environmentally sustainable specific products are and lay out a choice between one company's technology and another's.

    The roughly 20-year life of a solar panel still makes it some of the cleanest energy technology currently available. Producing solar is still significantly cleaner than fossil fuels. Energy derived from natural gas and coal-fired power plants, for example, creates more than 10 times more hazardous waste than the same energy created by a solar panel, according to Mulvaney.

    The U.S. solar industry said it is reporting its waste, and sending it to approved storage facilities — thus keeping it out of the nation's air and water. A coal-fired power plant, in contrast, sends mercury, cadmium and other toxins directly into the air, which pollutes water and land around the facility.

    "Having this stuff go to ... hazardous waste sites, that's what you want to have happen," said Adam Browning, executive director of the Vote Solar Initiative, a solar advocacy group.

    Best wishes,

    Steven

  • Report this Comment On February 24, 2013, at 1:26 PM, predfern wrote:

    Here is a fascinating new article that provides a global picture of where energy is going.

    A New Energy Age

    Irwin M. Stelzer

    February 23, 2013 12:00 AM

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/print/blogs/new-energy-age_703...

    "The energy deck is being reshuffled. Fracking is likely to drive down oil prices in the long run. Coal will remain a major player, green wishes notwithstanding. Renewables continue to be dependent on subsidies, which cash-strapped countries are putting under review. Nuclear power is a high-cost option, its role largely dependent on how much governments are willing to extract from customers and taxpayers or, in a few instances, how much utilities are willing to pay to avoid too-great dependence on natural gas."

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2013, at 2:14 PM, phillyarchitect wrote:

    What about pebble bed reactors? Aren't those safer, less expensive, and producers of far less waste?

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2013, at 2:29 PM, damilkman wrote:

    I found this article silly and foolish. I am informed as a statement of fact by the Greenies that if carbon emisions are not curtailed now the world as we will know it will end. If that is indeed the case how can nuclear be any worse? There have been three major Nuclear accidents in 50 years, all correctable by reasonably competent regulations. If you are concerned about the end of the world Nuclear wins. Chance of a nuclear meltdown verses us all drowning? I take the former.

    It was stated as fact solar was cheaper and more efficient. Every year I investigate if the cost of augmenting my home with a solar array is worthwhile. I would be willing to do it even if I did not break even. Yet the cost is not even remotely close. The only solar option that is remotely cost effective is a system to heat my water. If I am a rich pundit only then is it even remotely affordable.

    It was stated as a fact that wind power was cheaper and more affordable. Overlooked is the fact no one has figured out how to build a real smart grid. The reality is that carbon fueled plants have to always be run in parallel because if the wind stops, the demand does not. Unlike a conventional plant a wind farm never runs at peak because it is instrumented to a certain wind speed. The reality is something south of 50% is the best you can get. So even if your utility claims X percent of power generated by wind, they are not telling you about the coal burned in a running backup.

    Much of the reason why Nuclear is expensive is ridiculous regulation and fears of witchcraft. The rest of the world recycles their nuclear waste for reuse while we foolishly not. France generates about 80% of their eletricity from nuclear. If they can do it affordably so can we.

    Lastly in regards to the health concerns. We poison are bodies with bad food, alcohol, and drugs. We live around chemicals in the home and workplace that contribute to our death. We live on the slopes of volcanoes, on fault zones, in floodplanes, and along oceans where the next storm can wash everything away. When 25 thousand people were killed and millions displaced did anyone in Japan protest the Ocean? Yet they were willing to gut their economy. Despite the "Oceans" dangers I am sure 95% of those people will willingly move back to their original home. Yet tomorrow the Ocean could kill them.

    I am not saying we should discount radiation accidents. My problem is we treat them as something worse. We treat radiation as some kind of evil magic. We get all freaked out about higher levels of radiation despite building our homes on dioxin laced fill. Radiation is a concern that is no different then any other chemical product that might have an adverse health on me. Discounting it because it is "RADIATION" is foolish. Radiation can kill and permanently poison. So can a thousand other man made chemicals that we choose to live with.

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2013, at 3:02 PM, maniladad wrote:

    Reading these comments, I find a lot of sincere, fervent concern about the best, most economical and safest way to provide energy in the future, with safety including the effects on the environment and considering both the effects of operation and of extended effects such as waste disposal. I strongly suspect that all of these considerations will be rendered moot by some unanticipated, probably "unanticipatable" development, possibly a technological advance. I have the sense of being transported a century back in time and listening to a fervent debate about whether steam or electricity is the best technology for the motor car, while out on the edges of civilization Henry Ford is toying with an idea that will develop into the foundation of an industry that will alter the course of history.

    What might this development be? What about prefabricated, self-contained, transportable 'plug and play' nuclear reactors that supply local power? How about enzyme-based smokestack scrubbers that make coal equivalent to the cleanest fuel available? An application of a development in nanotechnology? More likely, it will be something so different from anything that presently exists that it is quite literally inconceivable at present.

    "Discovery consists of seeing what everyone else sees and thinking what no one else has thought."

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2013, at 3:46 PM, cooncreekcrawler wrote:

    Renewables are wonderful as far as they go, which isn't far quite enough. When the sun goes down and the wind lays the power left to run the country is called the "base load." We will never base load on renewables. Something has got to work dependably in the dark. That something will be either carbon based (coal, oil, or gas), or nuclear. Presently, we are trending toward natural gas and nuclear. Coal plants are being taken off line at a rapid pace, much to the chagrin of the coal industry. Harness makers and farriers didn't like it when cars were invented either. It's called progress, although sometimes I wonder........

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2013, at 4:32 PM, phillyarchitect wrote:

    That is an interesting thought about finding ways to burn coal cleanly. Surely there must be some way that the carbon could be separated out from the CO2. I have read about coal fired plants that do this and store the carbon deep underground. Why couldn't the carbon be recycled and burned again?

  • Report this Comment On February 26, 2013, at 7:02 PM, cooncreekcrawler wrote:

    Coal can be cleaned up using the so-called "clean coal technology" which essentially removes all chemicals from the gas stream except carbon dioxide. The by product of burning all carbon fuels is CO2, along with other chemicals such as ash, depending on the fuel. Indeed, the combining of carbon with the oxygen results in an exothermic reaction (fire). The ultimate clean carbon fuel would be where the CO2 is captured from the gas stream and sequestered underground, usually in exhausted oil or gas wells. But it is very expensive and the operation of the equipment is a nightmare. But it can be done. The only efficient way the CO2 can be reused is when it is used by plants in photosynthesis and converted into constable material, such as wood. Then we can burn the plants and essentially recycle the carbon. Actually, this is exactly what has been happening in nature for millions of years, but we are releasing carbon faster now than it has even been released in nature as best as we can tell, and it is getting worse in most, but not all countries.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2013, at 12:31 AM, VictorErimita wrote:

    This article could have been written in the 1970s. It sounds like it was.

    The NIMBYS are really BANANAS: build absolutely nothing anywhere near anybody. Large scale solar is vehemently opposed by green zealots. Wind? Please. Germany and Europe have bailed on their after decades of subsidies down that rat hole. The greenie fanatics are opposing natural gas terminals in Oregon.

    The opposition to waste storage is mostly ignorant nonsense. All the hype about gazillion-year half lives ignores the reason for that: the very slow decay of these materials means they give off lower levels of radiation than hotter, short half life isotopes.

    Your big example of government "subsidy" is the Price Anderson Act? Break out the bell bottoms and Beegees records. That would be called tort reform if this country had sensible restraints on tort abuse like every other nation on Earth.

    The costs are indeed high, but largely because of China Syndrome witch hunt mentality.

    Anyway, even if you don't like the investment potential of the nuclear power industry, it is very disappointing, startling really, to see a MF report so wide eyed and breathless about the fairy dust in wind and solar.

  • Report this Comment On March 02, 2013, at 1:52 PM, rybrrdm wrote:

    Travis,

    Your comment below is erroneous and misleading.

    By comparison, First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR ) is building a plant in New Mexico that will be open 2014 and will cost ratepayers $0.0579 per kW-hr.

    There is nowhere on the planet that electricity costs $0.0579 per kW-hr. Solar power is many times more costly than fossil fuel generated power especially when you take into account that solar power generates little on cloudy days and not at all at night. In addition, solar power becomes even more expensive when storage battery costs are factored in.

    Get your facts straight before publishing them. Articles like yours create support from the public for the wrong solutions.

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2013, at 1:11 AM, BlueBoomerHD wrote:

    The Price Anderson Act moves the cost of nuclear accidents, in the US, to the taxpayers.

    CWIP moves the cost of construction to rate payers; years to decades before there will be any electricity to market.

    Containment buildings are weakened from exposure to high levels of radiation and significant areas within the structures are dangerously radioactive from said exposure. Containment buildings will be used for 5-6 decades (50-60 years), then become a sarcophagus for multiple millennia (1,000s of years).

    Spent fuel rods, there are 1,000s of tons (millions of pounds), are toxic (deadly levels of radioactivity) for more than 250,000 years; still no place to safely store them for anywhere near the requisite time frame...

    Yes, folks do know how to build a 'smart' grid for the distribution of renewable energy, but dinosaur (nuclear industry) promoters pay politicians to deny funding for the upgrade; common carrier infrastructure is most often done best by a public entity.

    Nuclear energy is a short term solution with a long list of incredibly dangerous, long term consequences!!!

    Efficiency, wind and solar are the best long term solutions, with recyclable components; sarcophagus not required!

  • Report this Comment On March 03, 2013, at 8:40 PM, VictorErimita wrote:

    I'm not a nuclear power bull, but your claims, BlueBoomer, is filled with 40-year-old humbug. The claim, for example, that Price Anderson passes liability costs "to the taxpayers" is a simplistic caricature of complex risk analysis. Our tort system is massively out of control now, and imposes a burden on most kinds of businesses that don't exist in most other countries, that have sane tort systems. If the power companies are liable for accidents, none of which have ever caused a single death in the U.S., incidentally, who do you think would pay those costs? The ratepayers.

    The costs of construction of all power plants, not just nuclear ones are born by ratepayers. The costs of all businesses are born by their us timers. Or they would go out of business. How could it be otherwise, do you suppose? If you don't understand this basic truth, I recommend you leave your personal investment decisions to someone else.

    The dangers of spent fuel rod storage have been massively exaggerated for decades.

    Wind is a preposterously impractical idea in most places on earth, for many reasons. Solar is also impractical for massive electricity production. Have you ever looked at the statistics for the millions upon millions of acres that would be required to produce the kilowatts the nation needs? Anyone who does would see that the claim solar can be a major source of electricity production is...not based in fact.

    As for paying politicians, are you aware of the billions Obama has funneled to his contributors in "green energy" companies like Solyndra, most of which have failed?

    Efficiency is always a good idea, but the big savings, in space heating, for example, have already been realized. That is another argument from the 1970s, no longer where the action is.

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