Georgia Power’s Plan for Yet Another Nuclear Reactor Opposed by Citizens at PSC Meeting on 2016 IRP

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georgia power irp panel(APN) ATLANTA — Environmental advocates in Georgia expressed their outrage to the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) over the course of two days on April 18 and 19, 2016, in opposition to Georgia Power’s 2016 Integrated Resource Plan.

 

The Plan remains slow on renewable energy like solar and wind, and, shockingly, lays the procedural groundwork for yet another new nuclear reactor in Georgia.

 

Georgia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is the process of advance energy planning that is put forth every three years before the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) for approval.

 

A four-member panel of Georgia Power executives answered questions from various groups including solar and wind advocates, representing several environmental groups.

 

The Company’s panel included Larry Legg, Georgia Power Market Planning Manager; Jeff Burleson, Southern Company Services System Planning Vice President; Alison Chiock, Georgia Power Resource Policy and Planning Director; and Dr. Larry Monroe, Southern Company Services, Chief Environmental Officer and Research and Environmental Affairs Senior Vice President.

 

Observing the meeting was much like falling down a rabbit hole, where down is up, and up is down, and the Red Queen is insane.

 

The most disturbing news in this “Wonderland” was Georgia Power’s consideration of  new nuclear plants along the Chattahoochee River in Stewart County, Georgia.

 

Using ratepayer money, the Company has bought seven thousand acres below Columbus, Georgia for the site, and is currently pursuing a construction and operating license (COL).

 

They may ask the PSC for certification for more nuclear plants at the next IRP cycle in 2019.

 

Chiock indicated that, based on preliminary studies, the Stewart County site is a viable nuclear site.

 

Stewart is another impoverished rural community, with a majority Black population, much like Burke County, which lies in the shadow of Plant Vogtle 1, 2, with planned Units 3 & 4 under construction.

 

The Shell Bluff residents downwind and downstream from Vogtle, have experienced an increase in cancer rates.  One study found a correlation between increased disease rates and proximity to nuclear power plants in Georgia.

 

http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/2012/01/13/shell-bluff-residents-speak-out-on-nuclear-reactors/

 

http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/2008/01/14/ips-protests-greet-nuclear-power-resurgence-in-us-south/

 

Health concerns never seem to be part of the public conversation because those who should protect Georgians deny that there are health issues with nuclear power.

 

Because a person cannot see, smell, touch, or feel radiation; and the soil, air and water are not tested in Georgia, it is easy for the industry to continue to deny health problems are connected to routine releases of Tritium and other radioactive materials from nuclear power plants.

 

http://enformable.com/2016/02/who-is-monitoring-health-of-populations-around-nuclear-power-plants/

One problem with putting a nuclear plant on the Chattahoochee is that the Apalachicola-Flint-Chattahoochee (ACF) river system as the most endangered river in the Southeast, according to American Rivers.

 

“The ACF is already overstressed and cannot support more water-intensive development, such as a possible new, water-guzzling power plant that would require tens of millions of gallons of water per day,” Jason Ulseth, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, told the PSC during public comment.

 

Proponents of nuclear power argue that operating nuclear plant has near zero carbon emissions and eases the Company’s concerns about carbon regulations in the Clean Power Plan.

However, other steps involved in the nuclear cycle create an enormous carbon footprint, including construction of the plant, mining, processing and transporting the uranium, storage of nuclear waste and other waste byproducts, and eventually decommissioning the plant, according to Nuclear Energy Institute.

 

The Georgia Power wants to start planning for additional nuclear options now because the construction time is very long, as we have seen with Vogtle 1 and 2, and now again with Vogtle 3 and 4.

 

To retain the nuclear option in the future, the Company says it is taking actions to ensure the possibility of yet more nuclear generation later when the State of Georgia “needs” it.

 

“By pursuing the COL now we take away about forty percent of the lead time to build new nuclears,” Alison Chiock told the PSC.

 

“Isn’t it a risky option to start down the path of more nuclear in light of the problems at Vogtle 3 & 4, and the transformation in the industry to lower cost renewable and the potential for battery storage?” Liz Coyle, Executive Director, Georgia Watch, asked.

 

Obviously, Georgia Power wants to go down that same path again because, for the Company, it has meant over twenty percent annual increase in profits, while ratepayers pay in advance for construction through the Construction Work in Progress charges that have been assessed to Georgia Power bills for the last seven years.

 

Meanwhile, ratepayers get stuck with the bill for cost overruns and delays.

 

http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/2015/08/01/vogtle-nuclear-expansion-total-cost-is-65-billion-dollars-former-commissioner-says/

 

As long as a majority of  Georgia’s elected officials and a majority of the PSC are pro-nuclear, Georgia will be one of the few places on Earth that continues to build expensive, dangerous, and outdated nuclear plants.

 

Fortunately Georgia is beginning to see the light with some renewables, thanks in part to Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, who advocated for solar in the previous IRP.

 

In this IRP, Georgia Power has only asked the PSC for approval of only 525 megawatts (MW) of solar energy.

 

The Company’s explanation for adding so little solar is that the cost of solar is going down and they want to go slow and wait to get the best price later.

 

Robert Baker, an attorney with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), projected that more solar and wind generated energy will save millions of dollars for the ratepayer, even at current costs.

 

After much back and forth the Company reluctantly agreed more solar and wind can save customers money in the future.

 

But the Georgia Power also objects that solar is intermittent because it can’t generate energy at night.

 

However as some pointed out, wind is often available at night, and on cloudy, rainy days.  Together, they could provided a continuous source of dependable energy, especially with new technology to store the energy.

 

It was noted that solar and wind will save ratepayers money, while nuclear is subsidized by ratepayer and federal taxpayers.

 

The unmentioned costs of nuclear power include disposal of radioactive waste and the decommissioning of a nuclear plant, not to mention (God forbid) an accident.

 

The good news is Georgia Power plans to close all 29 of its ash ponds at eleven coal-fired plants to comply with a federal environmental regulations.

 

Twelve ponds will close in the next two years and the rest in ten to 14 years.

 

The bad news is coal ash contains toxic heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic, selenium, and radioactive material.  This toxic mix can cause cancer, and damage to the brain and nervous system.

 

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/state-regional/georgias-coal-ponds-a-lurking-disaster/npGPj/

 

After questioning from Zachary Fabish, an attorney with the Sierra Club, Georgia Power admitted they have not tested the groundwater around the coal ash ponds and do not know if any heavy metals have leached into the ground water.

 

The Company does not use synthetic liner to prevent groundwater contamination.

 

About half of the coal ash is sold to mix in concrete, which is not being tested for heavy metals, meaning that end-users of the concrete blocks may or may not be exposed to heavy metals hidden inside the blocks..

 

Georgia Power seeks authorization from the PSC for decertification of older, dirtier, coal-fired generation units at Plant Mitchell Units 3, A4, and 4B,; Plant Kraft Unit 1; and Intercession City.

 

Georgia Power claims that their 2.4 million customers pay less for their services than people in other parts of the country and PolitiFact Georgia finds this mostly true.

 

The Company’s base electric rates will remain flat through 2019, primarily driven by a decrease in the fuel rate.

 

(END/2016)

11 comments

  • Asteroid Miner

    Nuclear power is the only way to stop making CO2 that actually works. To stop Global Warming, we must replace all large fossil fueled power plants with nuclear.

    Renewable Energy mandates cause more CO2 to be produced, not less, and renewable energy doubles or quadruples your electric bill. The reasons are as follows:

    Since solar “works” 15% of the time and wind “works” 20% of the time, we need either energy storage technology we don’t have or ambient temperature superconductors and we don’t have them either. Wind and solar are so intermittent that electric companies are forced to build new generator capacity that can load-follow very fast, and that means natural gas fired gas turbines. The gas turbines have to be kept spinning at full speed all the time to ramp up quickly enough. The result is that wind and solar not only double your electric bill, wind and solar also cause MORE CO2 to be produced.

    We do not have battery or energy storage technology that could smooth out wind and solar at a price that would be possible to do. The energy storage would “cost” in the neighborhood of a QUADRILLION dollars for the US. That is an imaginary price because we could not get the materials to do it if we had that much money.

    The only real way to reduce CO2 production from electricity generation is to replace all fossil fueled power plants with the newest available generation of nuclear. Nuclear can load-follow fast enough as long as wind and solar power are not connected to the grid.  Generation 4 nuclear can ramp fast enough to make up for the intermittency of wind and solar, but there is no reason to waste time and money on wind and solar.

    • Your argument directly contradicts the notion that more costs appear on the back end for nuclear due to the destruction of the local enviornments. Solar and wind do not have the potential to leave a giant “no mans land” if they fail or break down. Funny that the excuse for not opting for more solar is that the price is dropping, but not fast enough. This, from the same company that charged solar panel users a monthly fee to stem the growth of home made power.

      Does your argument consider that GA is #3 in the nation for solar potential? I dont think your 15% figure works with this fact. The way I understand it, GA could produce a surplus of clean energy that could be exported if we were to take advantage of this potential. That should equate to cheaper rates for the taxpayers who subsidize GA Powers production costs in the first place. The push to nuclear shows that GA Power prefers larger profit margins to its ratepayers future health and security. It also shows that they have no interest in adapting to todays problems by updating their business model/tactics. Its all about what they make now instead of what is destroyed down the road. Maybe the trees are blocking the view to the forest here.

      • You should look up capacity factors for solar. They are surprisingly low. Solar generates nothing at night so 50% of the capacity of those panels is gone immediately. Early morning and evening output is just a small fraction also; think about getting a suntan between 6 and 9 AM or PM… it’s just not going to happen. Then there are those pesky clouds. They can hide the sun for hours or days at a time. When all taken together, it’s quite easy to get to capacity factors that are quite low.

      • Solar and wind are clearly not the answer long term, and, in fact, are detrimental to the environment as well. Solar power facilities, which Southern Company is actively developing in Taylor County, GA, as well as other parts of the state, have a massive footprint for relatively low power generation. The best sites to build these facilities? On sandhills which contain many endangered and endemic flora and fauna. Additionally, the heat reflected through these solar facilities literally burn organisms as they fly over these 1,000-acre plus sites. Other alternative sites are small (or large) farms where site development work can be minimized to reduce front end costs. In order to meet our culture’s continuously growing demand for energy, these companies have to look at an entire portfolio of energy generation facilities…solar and wind (which just doesn’t do well in Georgia) are not the holy grail of alternative energy.

  • Asteroid Miner

    DO NOT MIX COAL ASH INTO ANYTHING!

    Coal contains: URANIUM and all of the decay products of uranium, ARSENIC, LEAD, MERCURY, Antimony, Cobalt, Nickel, Copper, Selenium, Barium, Fluorine, Silver, Beryllium, Iron, Sulfur, Boron, Titanium, Cadmium, Magnesium, THORIUM, Calcium, Manganese, Vanadium, Chlorine, Aluminum, Chromium, Molybdenum and Zinc. There is so much of these elements in coal that cinders and coal smoke are actually valuable ores. We should be able to get ALL THE URANIUM AND THORIUM WE NEED TO FUEL NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS FOR CENTURIES BY USING COAL CINDERS AND SMOKE AS ORE. Unburned Coal and crude oil also contain BENZENE. BENZENE causes leukemia. We could get all of our uranium and thorium from coal ashes and cinders. The carbon content of coal ranges from 96% down to 25%, the remainder being rock of various kinds.
    The uranium decay chain includes the radioactive gas RADON, which you are breathing. Radon decays in about a day into polonium, the super-poison.

    If you have cancer, check for benzene, dioxins, vinyl chloride, etcetera in your past.
    See:
    http://www.ornl.gov/info/ornlreview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html
    or
    http://clearnuclear.blogspot.com
    in case the ORNL site does not work.

    Make coal fired power plants meet the same requirements for radiation release that nuclear power plants have to meet. They can’t.

    Chernobyl released as much radiation as a coal fired power plant releases EVERY 7 years and 5 months. You get 100 to 400 times as much radiation from coal as from nuclear. Natural gas can contain radon.

  • Asteroid Miner

    France already recycles spent nuclear fuel. In the 1960s, we in the US recycled spent nuclear fuel.  We don’t recycle nuclear fuel now for two reasons:

    1. It is valuable and people steal it. The place it went that it wasn’t supposed to go to was Israel. This happened in a small town near Pittsburgh, PA circa 1970. A company called Numec was in the business of reprocessing nuclear fuel. [I almost took a job there in 1968, designing a nuclear battery for a heart pacemaker.]

    2. Virgin uranium is so cheap that it is cheaper than recycling. This will change eventually, which is why we keep the spent fuel where we can reach it. The US possesses a lot of MOX fuel made from the plutonium removed from bombs. MOX is essentially free fuel since it was paid for by the process of un-making bombs.

    Please read this Book: “Plentiful Energy, The Story of the Integral Fast Reactor” by Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang, 2011. You can download this book free from: http://www.thesciencecouncil.com/pdfs/PlentifulEnergy.pdf. Charles E. Till and Yoon Il Chang, are former directors of the nuclear power research lab at Argonne National Lab near Chicago. Get another free book from: http://www.thesciencecouncil.com/prescription-for-the-planet.html

    Per Till & Chang: The Integral Fast Reactor [IFR] uses “nuclear waste” as fuel and gets 100 times as much energy out of a pound of uranium as the Generation 2 reactors we are using now. The IFR is safer than the Generation 2 reactors, which are safer by far than coal. The IFR is commercially available from GEHitachiPRISM.com

    The IFR is meltdown-proof. The IFR can be turned up and down quickly and repeatably. The IFR uses metal fuel that is recycled in a system that makes it difficult to get plutonium239 out of the fuel. To make a good plutonium bomb, you must have almost pure plutonium239. 7% plutonium240 and higher isotopes or other actinides will spoil the bomb. IFR Pyro process recycled fuel is useless for bomb making.

    Elements with more protons than uranium are called trans-uranics alias actinides. Actinides are the part of so-called nuclear “waste” that makes it stay radioactive for a long time. The IFR uses up the actinides as fuel. Actinides include plutonium, neptunium, americium, curium, berkelium, californium, einsteinium, fermium, mendelevium, nobelium and all of the other “synthetic” elements.

    The IFR is the ideal source of electricity since it does not make CO2. The resultant “waste” is very small, will decay in only 300 years and is useful in medicine. The IFR is commercially available now. See: GEHitachiPRISM.com

    The following countries either already recycle spent fuel or are experimenting with a recycling process or both:
    France, Japan Russia, China, India, South Korea.
    The US recycled spent fuel in the 1960s.

    Purex process: The old one. Separates out plutonium, but does not separate the isotopes of plutonium. Any bomb made with this plutonium from a powerplant reactor would fizzle. You can’t make a plutonium bomb with more than 7% Pu240.

    Pyro process: Leaves plutonium mixed with uranium and trans-uranic elements. [All fissionable elements are kept together with uranium]
    Other processes [wet] are also under development.

    By recycling nuclear fuel, we have a 30,000 [thirty thousand] year supply.

  • Thank you- Sierra Club, Riverkeepers, and SACE for your advocacy for our environment, and protecting it by encouraging clean solar and wind energy. Thank you for questioning the idiots from Georgia Power who want to sell us down the river, AGAIN, with nuclear power. They are purposely ignorant of ground, water and air pollution caused by their coal and nuclear plants. They are purposely ignorant of the cost savings for their customers that would be realized by generating more energy from solar and wind sources. Why should they care a damn when they bought our Georgia legislators and in return are allowed to bill Georgia ratepayers for their construction costs and cost overruns? Those greedy little bastards don’t care about anything but profit.

    • Actually solar and wind are relatively expensive when they make up a substantive percentage of available generation. They require storage which is expensive, or they require backup generation that can be quickly brought on line when, for example, clouds are present. Building backup is quite expensive also.

      This integrated resource planning process is required by the PSC and it’s designed to provide low cost reliable power to Georgia.

  • We can see the problem on this chat board. The nuclear industry has infiltrated some environmental groups. There is no similar conversation around nuclear energy on the internet that does not have multiple “nuclear is good for the environment” posts. The industry has been pushing this self-serving non-sense for a long time and many people fall for it even in the face of direct, observable evidence to the contrary.

    Meanwhile, this situation includes classicism – the plant is slated for a deeply impoverished area; racism – it is slated for an area that is predominantly black; environmental risk on an exceptional scale – catastrophic accident on a major water source for the region being a real possibility; and financial wastefulness with the taxpayer’s money.

    Georgia Power could invest in wind and solar concentrating on making money. But making money alone is not good enough for Georgia Power. Apparently, the officer’s of that company crave the sense of power that comes from abusing taxpayers and getting away with it. Worse, it seems some leaders at the helm of both Georgia Power and our state will not be content until all of Georgia is a Fukushima style waste land. Assuming these people are Georgia residents, I can only wonder what causes them to hate their own families so much?

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