"Need Nukes Now" - so says Silicon Valley Execs

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fun...@my-deja.com

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Feb 19, 2001, 12:28:52 PM2/19/01
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Silicon Valley Executives Cite the
Need for Nuclear Power

Feb. 13, 2001 - Stung by the electricity shortages that have plagued
California this winter, two of the world’s top technology executives have
extolled the value of nuclear energy in recent weeks.

Last Thursday, at a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon in
Washington, D.C., Scott McNealy, chairman of the board and chief
executive officer of Sun Microsystems, spoke of California’s energy woes
and the impact they are having on his Palo Alto-based company and its
employees.

"This country needs to figure out an energy policy ... and I’m going to
do the politically incorrect thing and tell you the answer’s going to be
nuclear power. I have not yet heard anybody utter the phrase ‘nuclear
power’ in California yet. But in terms of environmental and cost and
competitiveness and all the rest of it, I just don't see any other solution
..
Rolling blackouts are a bad thing."

Just one month earlier, Craig Barrett, president and chief executive officer
of Santa Clara-based Intel Corp., voiced similar views on the urgent need
for the reliable, low-cost, bulk electricity that nuclear power plants
provide. As reported by Bloomberg News on Jan. 9, Barrett said his
company "was unlikely to expand in Silicon Valley and would instead
consider building in such far-flung locations as Ireland and Israel
because California’s energy crisis had made power supplies unreliable."

Barrett criticized government officials for blocking new power plants, and
said, "Nuclear power is the only answer but it’s politically incorrect."

McNealy said that, beyond his willingness to speak up, politicians need
to exhibit the leadership to shape a comprehensive energy policy that will
serve the national interest. "I’m happy to take the lead and take the
arrows if that’s what it takes, but I think the politicians have got to step
up and start driving this and come up with a better energy policy that
includes nuclear power."

above from http://www.nei.org/doc.asp?docid=711

I hope the executives are correct. However, at the current time, the answer
to power shortages isn't expected to be relatively safe, clean, affordable
nukes. It's going to be increased reliance on burning natural gas in
combustion turbines - lot of them.

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Graham Cowan

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Feb 19, 2001, 12:54:51 PM2/19/01
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The people are told they don't like nukes;
Wayne will probably soon do his best to remind those in this forum
of their opinion, and if he doesn't, many state-fed talkers will.

It is an error for a self-supporting person like Barrett to take any
part in this effort, however.

---
Boron: A Better Energy Carrier than Hydrogen?
http://www.eagle.ca/~gcowan/boron_blast.html#BoronDecombusted

steve spence

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Feb 19, 2001, 4:25:26 PM2/19/01
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I hope the execs stick with what they know, computers, and stay out of
energy policy.

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<fun...@my-deja.com> wrote in message news:96rl4k$sbh$1...@news.netmar.com...

ant

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Feb 19, 2001, 5:30:22 PM2/19/01
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"steve spence" <ssp...@webconx.com> wrote in message
news:abgk6.75559$%g3.12...@news02.optonline.net...

> I hope the execs stick with what they know, computers, and stay out of
> energy policy.
>
> --
> Steve Spence
> Subscribe to the Renewable Energy Newsletter:
> http://www.webconx.com/subscribe.htm
>
> Renewable Energy Pages - http://www.webconx.com
> Palm Pilot Pages - http://www.webconx.com/palm
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> ssp...@webconx.com
> (212) 894-3704 x3154 - voicemail/fax
> We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors,
> we borrow it from our children.
> --
>
> <fun...@my-deja.com> wrote in message news:96rl4k$sbh$1...@news.netmar.com...
> > Silicon Valley Executives Cite the
> > Need for Nuclear Power
> >
> > Feb. 13, 2001 - Stung by the electricity shortages that have plagued
> > California this winter, two of the world's top technology executives
have
> > extolled the value of nuclear energy in recent weeks.
> >

so if they start building now they will be ready to start pumping power into
the californian grid in about 5 years, real quick solution to the energy
crisis, now on the other hand if they increased investment in wind turbines
the power would start arriveing in the grid within a year, or if they
invested in energy efficeny measures the flow on would be even faster.

ant


Magnus Redin

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Feb 19, 2001, 6:11:06 PM2/19/01
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"ant" <spam...@bigpond.net.au> writes:

> so if they start building now they will be ready to start pumping
> power into the californian grid in about 5 years, real quick
> solution to the energy crisis, now on the other hand if they
> increased investment in wind turbines the power would start
> arriveing in the grid within a year, or if they invested in energy
> efficeny measures the flow on would be even faster.

Building nuclear powerplants will not help the current crisis but the
next one wont happen. Besides for how long do the natural gas lasts if
the demand increases? And is there enough gas pipelines? Gas pipelines
takes longer to build then gas powerplants. You might be forced to
fuel the new powerplants with oil and you dont want to have that as a
permanent solution.

Regards,
--
--
Magnus Redin Lysator Academic Computer Society re...@lysator.liu.se
Mail: Magnus Redin, Klockaregården 6, 586 44 LINKöPING, SWEDEN
Phone: Sweden (0)70 5160046 and (0)13 214600

John McCarthy

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Feb 19, 2001, 6:32:15 PM2/19/01
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"steve spence" <ssp...@webconx.com> writes:

> I hope the execs stick with what they know, computers, and stay out of
> energy policy.

They did until now. They left energy policy to the environmentalists.
It got them rolling blackouts.

--
John McCarthy, Computer Science Department, Stanford, CA 94305
http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/
He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.

steve spence

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Feb 19, 2001, 6:42:50 PM2/19/01
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they should have left it to the power engineers, with environmental
advisors.

--
Steve Spence
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"John McCarthy" <j...@Steam.Stanford.EDU> wrote in message
news:x4hitm6...@Steam.Stanford.EDU...

John McCarthy

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Feb 19, 2001, 6:40:06 PM2/19/01
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ant includes

> > Feb. 13, 2001 - Stung by the electricity shortages that have plagued
> > California this winter, two of the world's top technology executives
have
> > extolled the value of nuclear energy in recent weeks.
> >

so if they start building now they will be ready to start
pumping power into the californian grid in about 5 years,
real quick solution to the energy crisis, now on the other
hand if they increased investment in wind turbines the power
would start arriveing in the grid within a year, or if they
invested in energy efficeny measures the flow on would be
even faster.

The computer companies don't want to go into the energy
business. The state of California is taking proposals to supply
electricity at fixed prices. None of the present proposals
involve wind turbines. Judging from the AWEA web page which
lists capacity but not actual outputs, the wind energy companies
are relying on some kind of subsidies and are not ready to sign
contracts - with definite prices and penalties for non-delivery.

All the present proposals involve natural gas.

The Silicon Valley executives have reason to fear shortages of
natural gas.

Natural gas now, and nukes at present gas prices.

j...@watson.ibm.com

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Feb 19, 2001, 10:33:45 PM2/19/01
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In article <x4hitm6...@Steam.Stanford.EDU>,
on 19 Feb 2001 15:32:15 -0800,

John McCarthy <j...@Steam.Stanford.EDU> writes:
>"steve spence" <ssp...@webconx.com> writes:
>
>> I hope the execs stick with what they know, computers, and stay out of
>> energy policy.
>
>They did until now. They left energy policy to the environmentalists.
>It got them rolling blackouts.

This is just nonsense. Environmentalists can plausibly be
blamed for raising the price of electricity. However the blackouts are
basically a market failure caused by the price cap on the retail price
of electricity which is preventing the market from clearing in the
normal way. This is similar to other market failures caused by price
controls such as the gas lines in the 70's and is not the fault of
environmentalists.
Also the stupidity of the utilities should be mentioned.
They agreed to a deregulation law which left them with unlimited
exposure to a surge in wholesale electricity prices which as far
as I know they did not hedge in any way. Rather makes you wonder
if they can be trusted to operate a nuclear power plant.
James B. Shearer

Ian St. John

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Feb 19, 2001, 11:47:02 PM2/19/01
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<j...@watson.ibm.com> wrote in message
news:20010219....@yktvmv.WATSON.IBM.COM...

> In article <x4hitm6...@Steam.Stanford.EDU>,
> on 19 Feb 2001 15:32:15 -0800,
> John McCarthy <j...@Steam.Stanford.EDU> writes:
> >"steve spence" <ssp...@webconx.com> writes:
> >
> >> I hope the execs stick with what they know, computers, and stay out of
> >> energy policy.
> >
> >They did until now. They left energy policy to the environmentalists.
> >It got them rolling blackouts.
>
> This is just nonsense. Environmentalists can plausibly be
> blamed for raising the price of electricity. However the blackouts are
> basically a market failure caused by the price cap on the retail price
> of electricity which is preventing the market from clearing in the
> normal way. This is similar to other market failures caused by price
> controls such as the gas lines in the 70's and is not the fault of
> environmentalists.

The price cap was set high to allow utilities to pay off 'stranded costs'
from the regulation days. PG&E for example accrued $12B in extra profits for
this purpose before the 'crisis' cost them $2B. The reduction in capacity,
combined with high spot market prices, and possibly 'gaming' of the system
to increase profits drove the failure, not environmentalists, environmental
legislation, or the 'price cap'.

> Also the stupidity of the utilities should be mentioned.
> They agreed to a deregulation law which left them with unlimited
> exposure to a surge in wholesale electricity prices which as far
> as I know they did not hedge in any way. Rather makes you wonder
> if they can be trusted to operate a nuclear power plant.

In fact they reduced capacity as fast as possible to eliminate peak capacity
( which has lower profit margins ) and relied on spot markets to supply the
shortfall. The high spot prices for peak capacity gradually increased the
average cost, so the consumer paid more for the same power. The surge in
need while facing reductions in NorthWest coast hydro power for 'fill in'
set up the final crisis, while 'down for servicing' reductions by the power
companies to increase their profit on imported electricity from out-of-state
plants added fuel.

The municipal power companies had no such motive, maintaining capacity and
had no 'crisis'. The very fact that 'excess capacity' is a profit drag, yet
vital to secure power availability shows why 'market force deregulation' is
not necessarily the best strategy.

Now they get to whine about regulations restricting them, and eliminate
pollution control regulations designed to prevent deaths from dirty but
cheaper power production in a geography that already suffers from smog
problems.

> James B. Shearer


Jeffrey Siegal

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Feb 20, 2001, 12:01:53 AM2/20/01
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"Ian St. John" wrote:
> The price cap was set high to allow utilities to pay off 'stranded costs'
> from the regulation days.

Which the utilities were legally entitled to do. So what's the problem?

> PG&E for example accrued $12B in extra profits for
> this purpose

They were not "extra profits." They were recover of a cost they were
legally entitled to recover.

> before the 'crisis' cost them $2B.

The crisis has cost the utilities much more than $2 billion. According
to the PUC audit, PG&E's losses, even after netting profits from their
own generation (which is legally questionable in any case) totalled
about $5 billion as of 12/31/2000. In fact, the meter is still running,
especially if you count the taxpayer money which has now been used to
keep the lights on (running about $2 billion just in the past few
weeks).

> In fact they reduced capacity as fast as possible to eliminate peak capacity
> ( which has lower profit margins ) and relied on spot markets to supply the
> shortfall.

Selling off capacity does not reduce capacity. The capacity is still
available. Unless you can point to plants which have been
decommissioned, rather than simply changed ownership, your claim is
false.

Ian St. John

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Feb 20, 2001, 1:06:17 AM2/20/01
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"Jeffrey Siegal" <j...@quiotix.com> wrote in message
news:3A91FA41...@quiotix.com...

> "Ian St. John" wrote:
> > The price cap was set high to allow utilities to pay off 'stranded
costs'
> > from the regulation days.
>
> Which the utilities were legally entitled to do. So what's the problem?
>
> > PG&E for example accrued $12B in extra profits for
> > this purpose
>
> They were not "extra profits." They were recover of a cost they were
> legally entitled to recover.

They were a higher rate than could be justified on the basis of power
production costs. Ergo, they were 'extra profits' Yes, they were legally
entitled to recover them, in fact legally obligated. The point is that the
price cap was not a problem and without the 'crisis' they themselves
generated by reducing peak capacity, they would have continued to make
profits.

>
> > before the 'crisis' cost them $2B.
>
> The crisis has cost the utilities much more than $2 billion. According
> to the PUC audit, PG&E's losses, even after netting profits from their
> own generation (which is legally questionable in any case) totalled
> about $5 billion as of 12/31/2000. In fact, the meter is still running,
> especially if you count the taxpayer money which has now been used to
> keep the lights on (running about $2 billion just in the past few
> weeks).

My figures are from http://www.eei.org/issues/comp_reg/ca_summer00.pdf,
though it was a month or more ago, and the link is now dead. Indeed, losses
will continue to mount due to the shortsighted policies of these companies.
Now. Did you have a point?

>
> > In fact they reduced capacity as fast as possible to eliminate peak
capacity
> > ( which has lower profit margins ) and relied on spot markets to supply
the
> > shortfall.
>
> Selling off capacity does not reduce capacity. The capacity is still
> available. Unless you can point to plants which have been
> decommissioned, rather than simply changed ownership, your claim is
> false.

http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profiles/california/ca.html#t4
shows that between 1988 and 1993 there was virtually no change in utility
capacity. Yet by 1998 the capacity was about two thirds of previous levels.
. table reproduced in part below.

Table 4. Electric Power Industry Generating Capability by Plant Type, 1988,
1993, and 1998
1988 1993 1998
Total Utility 44,429 44,313 30,663

This change was due to decommisioning older plants with no replacement
planned. Note that most of the reductions were in oil fired and combined
cycle plants from before the rise in crude prices in the 70's. These had the
highest production costs and so were first to be chopped.

As is apparent by the list of utilities on the top of the page, there are
basically five large utilities and they each have their 'turf'. Selling a
plant in your own area to a competitor seems unlikely. In fact, I don't
recall it even being suggested. I've already discissed the reasons for this
decline with another poster who claimed 'environmental interference' and
'impossible siting process'. He was only able to point to the Calpine plant
as an example, and perusing the discussions by locals pointed out..

1: resistance was not based on environmental criteria
2. resistance is futile. The utility has too much clout.


John McCarthy

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Feb 20, 2001, 1:54:48 AM2/20/01
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j...@watson.ibm.com writes:

The environmentalists took, until the present crisis, a large share of
the credit for the fact that no power plants of any kind were built in
California over ten years. There's the state Energy Commission and
the Public Utilities Commission. They decided how much energy would
be needed.

Treeman

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Feb 20, 2001, 3:59:27 AM2/20/01
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"nukes at present gas prices."

OK dreamer, but I hope you add the cost of decommissioning to your
estimates along with the cost of safe waste disposal, oh, and the cost
of insuring against contaminating California and Nevada so your
wonderful grapes don't poison anybody.

fungee

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Feb 20, 2001, 9:08:05 AM2/20/01
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In article <28hk6.35328$o85.1...@news-server.bigpond.net.au>, ant
<spam...@bigpond.net.au> writes:

>so if they start building now they will be ready to start pumping power into
>the californian grid in about 5 years,

Yep. Even in the summer when the grid is strapped and the wind isn't
blowing.

>real quick solution to the energy
>crisis, now on the other hand if they increased investment in wind turbines
>the power would start arriveing in the grid within a year,

Every little bit helps, I suppose. However, building a 1000 MWe nuke in five
years will give you about eight times the energy production as building a 100
MW wind farm every year.

> or if they
>invested in energy efficeny measures the flow on would be even faster.

Not really a "flow", but I know what you mean. Considering that a new plant
hasn't been built in CA in 12 years, one would think efficiency has
contributed. Now with daily rolling blackouts, one would think that if
anything is to be gained from conservation, we would have seen it.

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malcolm.scott

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Feb 20, 2001, 10:01:07 AM2/20/01
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"fungee" <fun...@my-deja.com> wrote in message
news:96tto5$6ie$1...@news.netmar.com...

> In article <28hk6.35328$o85.1...@news-server.bigpond.net.au>, ant
> <spam...@bigpond.net.au> writes:
>
> >so if they start building now they will be ready to start pumping power
into
> >the californian grid in about 5 years,
>
> Yep. Even in the summer when the grid is strapped and the wind isn't
> blowing.
>
> >real quick solution to the energy
> >crisis, now on the other hand if they increased investment in wind
turbines
> >the power would start arriveing in the grid within a year,
>
> Every little bit helps, I suppose. However, building a 1000 MWe nuke in
five
> years will give you about eight times the energy production as building a
100
> MW wind farm every year.
>
> > or if they
> >invested in energy efficeny measures the flow on would be even faster.
>
> Not really a "flow", but I know what you mean. Considering that a new
plant
> hasn't been built in CA in 12 years, one would think efficiency has
> contributed. Now with daily rolling blackouts, one would think that if
> anything is to be gained from conservation, we would have seen it.

But have any conservation measures really been applied? Has there been a
major upgrade to building regulations? Are people required to use compact
flourescents or to turn off the air conditioning when they leave home? Have
poor performing appliances been banned? Has the price of power been
increased? Are people offered incentives to use less?
Malcolm


Jeffrey Siegal

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Feb 20, 2001, 2:05:45 PM2/20/01
to
"Ian St. John" wrote:
> > They were not "extra profits." They were recover of a cost they were
> > legally entitled to recover.
>
> They were a higher rate than could be justified on the basis of power
> production costs.

This is absolutely necessarily in order to transition from a regulated
to a deregulated system in less than, say 50 years. And the amount of
stranded cost recovery was computed based on "present value." In other
words, the legally entitled return was earned over a shorter period of
time than it would otherwise, but was reduced in amount. This was
simply a tradeoff, not a windfall.

> > The crisis has cost the utilities much more than $2 billion. According
> > to the PUC audit, PG&E's losses, even after netting profits from their
> > own generation (which is legally questionable in any case) totalled
> > about $5 billion as of 12/31/2000. In fact, the meter is still running,
> > especially if you count the taxpayer money which has now been used to
> > keep the lights on (running about $2 billion just in the past few
> > weeks).
>
> My figures are from http://www.eei.org/issues/comp_reg/ca_summer00.pdf,

I get a 404 on that. From the name, though, it looks like it refers
only to the summer problems, not the later (much larger) problems which
actually brought the situation to a crisis level.

> Now. Did you have a point?

Two points, in fact:

1. Get the facts right.

2. Stop trying to put some kind of spin on it that isn't justified by
the facts.

> > Selling off capacity does not reduce capacity. The capacity is still
> > available. Unless you can point to plants which have been
> > decommissioned, rather than simply changed ownership, your claim is
> > false.
>
> http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profiles/california/ca.html#t4
> shows that between 1988 and 1993 there was virtually no change in utility
> capacity. Yet by 1998 the capacity was about two thirds of previous levels.

> This change was due to decommisioning older plants with no replacement
> planned.

Most of the "reduction" you see is made up for by the increase in the
"nonutility" line. The change was simply that plants were sold on paper
from from utility to non-utility owners. In the real world, the plants
are still there. The capacity is still there. Nothing much changed,
capacity-wise.

There was a small reduction of less than 5%, probably the oldest and
dirtiest plants which were cheaper to shutter than clean up.

> As is apparent by the list of utilities on the top of the page, there are
> basically five large utilities and they each have their 'turf'. Selling a
> plant in your own area to a competitor seems unlikely.

There are independent plant operators which own plants in most of the
regions. Those are probably included in the "Nonutility" line on the
chart you referenced.

John McCarthy

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Feb 20, 2001, 2:27:39 PM2/20/01
to
Malcolm Scott asks:

But have any conservation measures really been applied? Has
there been a major upgrade to building regulations? Are
people required to use compact flourescents or to turn off
the air conditioning when they leave home? Have poor
performing appliances been banned? Has the price of power
been increased? Are people offered incentives to use less?

The true reformer cannot decide which is the most beautiful word
in the English language - "compulsory" or "forbidden". - John
Ryder in the 1930s.

Conservation is a good thing to the extent that it saves money,
but there is plenty of energy to be had, and the cost to society of making
and enforcing all the regulations Malcolm Scott yearns for is
very large. It is better to generate as much electricity as
people wnat to buy - at whatever it costs plus a substantial
profit.

John Phillips

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Feb 20, 2001, 4:55:03 PM2/20/01
to
Crisis fuels nuclear talk: Power woes, updated design creating a new
buzz
By Edie Lau


Bee Science Writer
(Published Feb. 19, 2001)
America's appetite for electricity -- highlighted by California's
energy crunch -- is driving an interest in nuclear power to heights
not seen in nearly a generation.

For the first time since the 1970s, a utility company is talking with
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about building new units somewhere
in the United States, using a design completely different from plants
anywhere else in the world.

At the same time, senators in Washington, D.C., are drafting
legislation to promote the development of nuclear power.

Even in Sacramento, where the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant was
closed 12 years ago essentially by popular vote, a scattering of
people -- including a state legislator -- are asking the local
utility, why not revive Rancho Seco?

Whether the renewed discussion will translate into more nuclear
generators is a matter of pointed debate and plentiful rhetoric. The
industry dubs this era its renaissance. Nuclear opponents compare the
industry to a vampire that periodically rises from the dead.

David Lochbaum, a nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concerned
Scientists in Cambridge, Mass., assesses the situation in calmer
terms:

"Do they have a bigger opportunity today? It's a bigger opportunity,
but it goes from being slim to slightly above slim," he said.

Sacramento is as experienced a place as any with the bruising debate
over nuclear power. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District closed
Rancho Seco in 1989 after voters demanded its shutdown.

But since the onset of brownout threats in California, some people
have wondered whether the nuclear plant couldn't be restored to
service. SMUD spokeswoman Dace Udris said the utility district
received about 15 e-mails in six weeks asking the question.

A world power
The United States is by far the No. 1 user of nuclear power in the
world in numbers of units and electrical output. However, 19 other
countries derive more of their total electricity from nuclear
generators. Here is how they ranked in 1999.
Country Pct.
1. France 75.0%
2. Lithuania 73.0%
3. Belgium 57.7%
4. Bulgaria 47.1%
5. Slovakia 47.0%
6. Sweden 46.8%
7. Ukraine 43.8%
8. South Korea 42.8%
9. Hungary 38.3%
10. Armenia 36.4%
11. Slovenia 36.3%
12. Japan 36.0%
13. Switzerland 36.0%
14. Finland 33.0%
15. Germany 31.2%
16. Spain 31.0%
18. United Kingdom 28.9%
19. Czech Republic 20.8%
20. United States 19.8%
Worldwide total 17.0%
Source: Nuclear Energy Institute
The short answer from SMUD is "no."

"A vast majority of the plant is no longer there," SMUD Assistant
General Manager Jim Shetler said. "All the steam-conversion
(equipment) ... all the turbines, pipes, valves, all have been
removed, shipped off for burial and disposal. ... So the power plant,
at least one-third to one-half of it, is no longer there -- pretty
much the operable part."

SMUD has spent more than $202 million on decommissioning.

The utility has new plans for the Rancho Seco site: using the land,
water rights and tie-in to the statewide electric transmission grid to
develop as many as four new natural gas-powered generators.

Shetler said he doubts the district would build a new nuclear plant.

"That's a very political question," he said. "It's a fairly risky
generation source for a small utility to be involved in. So while I
personally think nuclear power probably has a role to play in
providing electricity for the United States, I think it's probably a
technology that SMUD is not likely to invest in in the future."

Nevertheless, state Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, said he
plans to introduce a bill within the next month that would encourage
more nuclear generation. And one aspect he's considering including is
a study of the feasibility of rebuilding Rancho Seco.

"Given the ideological opposition of the SMUD board to nuclear energy,
it would require the state acquiring the nuclear facility," he said.

There's no doubt that the hurdles to new nuclear power, particularly
in the United States, remain formidable. No permanent repository
exists anywhere in the world for high-level radioactive waste. And the
partial meltdowns at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986
left enduring doubts about the ability of humans to safely manage the
extraordinary power of fission.

"If you really want to do nuclear power big, you have to improve the
safety," said Hubert Ley, an engineer at the U.S. Department of
Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

"All these reactors that we have been running right now, it's kind of
the first big wave of reactors ever built. If we want to continue with
nuclear energy, it's probably good that we've had a bit of a
moratorium for a few years," Ley said. "It allows us to build reactors
with a little bit of safety philosophy. There's a lot of research to
be done."

Around the world, 433 nuclear units are churning out electricity, 103
of them in the United States. New or old, the vast majority work in
basically the same way. They are fueled by uranium contained in rods
12 feet long. A bombardment by neutrons splits some uranium atoms,
triggering a chain reaction that splits still more atoms. The energy
that pours out boils water into steam to turn turbines connected to
electrical generators. Water also cools the fuel core to keep it from
melting.

In the 23 years since anyone in the United States applied to build a
nuclear unit, the technology of such plants has changed only
incrementally.

But in late January, the NRC heard a presentation about a proposed
plant that would make nuclear power in a markedly different way.

The design, called the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, is being advanced
by the South African company Eskom, which hopes to build one in that
country. Exelon, a utility company in Pennsylvania, has a minority
stake in the project and started preliminary discussions with the NRC
about importing the design to America. Exelon has not named
prospective sites.

Nuclear engineers are intrigued by the new design for a few reasons:

It uses helium gas rather than water to cool the reactor and spin the
turbines. Water by nature is corrosive to metals (blame the oxygen in
H2O), and more importantly, water is more apt to leak
catastrophically.

The fuel core is designed to withstand temperatures up to 2,900
degrees Fahrenheit, far greater than conventional water-cooled plants,
thereby minimizing -- if not eliminating -- the risk of meltdown.

Less fuel is required to operate the plant. The uranium is contained
in beads a millimeter in diameter, 15,000 of which are mixed with
graphite and covered with carbon, forming a sphere the size of a
tennis ball.

About 310,000 such spheres are loaded into the fuel core. They're
checked every few months. Damaged or spent balls are removed; the rest
are returned for another round.

Lochbaum said the add-as-you-go method inherently is safer than
loading two years' worth of fuel rods. "It's like putting two years of
fuel into your car," he said. In an accident, that much gasoline could
make a spectacular, lethal mess.

Exelon introduced the pebble bed modular reactor to the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission on Jan. 31. The presentation attracted a crowd;
some people sat on the floor of the meeting room.

"You sense a palpable buzz about it, and it's energizing," said Russ
Bell, a business services project manager at the Nuclear Energy
Institute, a trade group.

Still, the pebble bed model is just a design at this point. Other
generators have been built using "pebble" fuel or gas coolant, but
none has all the features of the proposed plant.

Jerry Wilson, a senior policy analyst at the NRC, said he would
recommend withholding approval of a similar reactor in the United
States until after seeing whether the proposed South African plant
works. The companies have set a target of 2005 to get that plant up
and running.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, meantime, is trying to assess and
influence public opinion on the question of new nuclear plants.

For several years, it has been promoting nuclear as an environmentally
sound energy source for a world concerned about the buildup of carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Now, citing the California energy shortage, it reported in late
January that "support for building new nuclear power plants has
increased in all regions, especially the West."

Survey respondents were asked their opinion of the statement, "We
should definitely build more nuclear energy plants in the future." NEI
said 52 percent of respondents in the West agreed with the statement
in January, compared with 33 percent in October.

Paul Gunter of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, an
international group opposed to nuclear power, called the industry "a
bit of a vampire in that it's been able to resurrect itself from the
dead from time to time. This is certainly another opportunity that the
industry is seizing upon."

A more telling survey, Gunter said, would ask who would support a
plant being built nearby.

"When the industry starts announcing sites in people's back yards,
that's where public opinion will show its true value and nature," he
said.

In Washington, D.C., at least two nascent bills would promote more
investment in nuclear power. One is a broad energy bill that also
would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling,
sponsored by Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska. The other, by Sen. Pete
Domenici, R-N.M., focuses specifically on nuclear power.

Ultimately, for nuclear power to experience a true renaissance in this
country, it will have to overcome a soured reputation, said Lochbaum,
the nuclear engineer at Union of Concerned Scientists.

"The biggest problem with nuclear power (proponents), over their
history, they've never delivered on their promises," he said. "If they
can do it safely ... it's kind of like the field of dreams. Build it,
and they will come."




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Regards,

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To respond by e-mail, please remove the
parentheses from my address

j...@watson.ibm.com

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 6:05:07 PM2/20/01
to
In article <x4hlmr1...@Steam.Stanford.EDU>,
on 19 Feb 2001 22:54:48 -0800,

So what? In a market economy supply glitches occur all the
time and normally don't require rationing (the rolling blackouts are
a particularly inefficient form of rationing). Instead prices rise
reducing consumption to what can be supplied. If ecoterrorists blow
up 10% of existing power capacity then they can be blamed for the
blackouts which may ensue until the system has time to adjust.
However if environmentalists prevent an additional 10% of capacity
from being built the system has plenty of time to adjust by
restraining demand (via price increases or other means) or finding
alternative ways of increasing supply. If the politicians and
utilities in California decided to drive off a cliff instead this is
their fault not the environmentalists.
James B. Shearer

Germanating Thought

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 6:47:33 PM2/20/01
to

> So what? In a market economy supply glitches occur all the
> time and normally don't require rationing (the rolling blackouts are
> a particularly inefficient form of rationing). Instead prices rise
> reducing consumption to what can be supplied. If ecoterrorists blow
> up 10% of existing power capacity then they can be blamed for the
> blackouts which may ensue until the system has time to adjust.
> However if environmentalists prevent an additional 10% of capacity
> from being built the system has plenty of time to adjust by
> restraining demand (via price increases or other means) or finding
> alternative ways of increasing supply. If the politicians and
> utilities in California decided to drive off a cliff instead this is
> their fault not the environmentalists.
> James B. Shearer

You are correct. But who was it that coerced them into taking these stands.
I don't think it was the Energy lobby.

TNT

Brad

John McCarthy

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 7:10:13 PM2/20/01
to
j...@watson.ibm.com writes:

Before the environmentalists got in the act, the utilities built
enough plants so there weren't blackouts. The environmentalists, who
claimed to know the utility business better than the utilities,
accused the utilities of building too much capacity and unnecessarily
raising rates and encouraging what the environmentalists considered
excess consumption.

Environmentalist ideology is attractive enough so environmentalists
and politicians repeating environmentalist ideas and slogans got a lot
of power. They even got the power to force the utilities to put their
slogans in the handouts that go with the bills.

However, there is a contrast between the slogans the public will vote
for, and what the public will do. Specifically, the public will not
use as little energy as is demanded by the politicians the same public
votes into office. The environmentalists know this and say that the
public isn't sufficiently educated. They also want coercive measures
to make the public use less energy. Someone recently posted a litany
of demands of that kind in sci.environment.

The result was a collision between what the public implicitly voted
for and what the public actually does.

Electricity isn't the only area in which the public has voted for
measures that they won't actually observe. The current fantasy about
zero emission vehicles is another.

If there were no source of all the energy anyone can want, and if the
current emission standards were causing large numbers of people to get
sick, there would be no choice. The public would eventually have to
learn.

In fact nuclear power will provide as much electricity as anyone wants
with greater safety than most other sources of energy in use and at
prices people can afford. The environmentalist leaders have, for
historical reasons that were always bad, fanatical prejudices against
nuclear energy. However, their prejudices extend to all forms of
energy. You can see plenty of minimalist ideology on this newsgroup
from people who brag that they use little energy and demand that
everyone else be forced to do likewise.

Amory Lovins is a little more cautious now than when he wrote

If you ask me, it'd be a little short of disastrous for us
to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy
because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking
for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that
won't give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which
we could do mischief to the earth or to each other. - Amory
Lovins in {\it The Mother Earth} - Plowboy Interview,
Nov/Dec 1977, p. 22

but the sentiments are the same.

Chris Torek

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 7:46:29 PM2/20/01
to
In article <x4hlmr0...@Steam.Stanford.EDU>

John McCarthy <j...@Steam.Stanford.EDU> wrote:
>Before the environmentalists got in the act, the utilities built
>enough plants so there weren't blackouts. The environmentalists, who
>claimed to know the utility business better than the utilities,
>accused the utilities of building too much capacity and unnecessarily
>raising rates and encouraging what the environmentalists considered
>excess consumption.

If you mean "in California", the California Energy Commission
correctly forecast the peak load CA had last summer (about 55 GW)
and wanted new power plant construction in the early 1990s. The
utilities themselves petitioned FERC to quash new plant construction.

I take it your argument, then, is that the utilities *are* the
environmentalists (or were in 1995)? :-)

Of 21 new proposed power plants since 1998, 12 have been blocked
by other generating companies (not "environmentalists").

[Quote below is from <http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0130-04.htm>;
it is rather slanted, so you have to read between the lines.]

It is untrue that California's environmental laws have prevented
new plants from being built and are responsible for the current
crisis. As noted earlier, there is enough existing capacity tied
into the state's grid to meet even summertime peak demand. And
while the state's sensible environmental laws get the blame for
the lack of new construction, it is important to note that California's
utilities did not want to make investments in new power plants.
The state's utilities blocked decisions by the CPUC to build new
capacity because under deregulation, the utilities realized they
would have assumed the economic risk for bad decisions -- rather
than consumers -- who paid for past mistakes as part of rates.

Southern California Edison (SCE) even went so far as stopping the
development of 1,500 MW of new renewable energy and cogeneration
(the heat from industrial processes is used to generate electricity)
projects. This more environmentally friendly electricity would have
been available to help meet the current crisis, and would have cost
of under 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. But, SCE's Chief Executive
Officer, John Bryson, in the mid-1990s petitioned the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC) to stop the construction of these
projects.

Before deregulation, California had a planning process for building
the infrastructure for the energy sources to meet demand. In 1993,
this Biennial Resource Planning Update (BRPU) process set a price
that was below 5.5 cents per kilowatt (a much lower price than the
cost of power from long-term contracts today), and a bidding process
was initiated. The cost of environmental damage was taken into
consideration in the bidding process. The Public Utilities Commission
accepted bids and planned to build 1,500 MW of new wind, geothermal
and cogeneration plants. Bryson then started a petitioning process
at FERC, which resulted in none of the generation being built
because he did not want to risk investments in new capacity. FERC
voted to not allow the California Utilities Commission to require
the new projects. Today, California is suffering from the FERC's
bad decision and Bryson's efforts to stop new renewable energy
capacity from being build.

Even so some power plants were built, according to the agency that
permits new power plants:

In the 1990s before the state's electricity generation industry
was restructured, the California Energy Commission certified
12 new power plants. Of these, three were never built. Nine
plants are now in operation producing 952 megawatts of
generation...Since April 1999, the Energy Commission has
approved nine major power plant projects with a combined
generation capacity of 6,278 megawatts. Six power plants,
with a generation capacity of 4,308 megawatts are now under
construction, with 2,368 megawatts expected to be on-line by
the end of the year 2001.

In addition, another 14 electricity generating projects,
totaling 6,734 megawatts of generation and an estimated
capital investment of more than $4.3 billion, are currently
being considered for licensing by the Commission.

--
In-Real-Life: Chris Torek, Berkeley Software Design Inc
El Cerrito, CA, USA Domain: to...@bsdi.com +1 510 234 3167
http://claw.bsdi.com/torek/ (not always up) I report spam to abuse@.
Note: PacBell news service is rotten

D.A.Kopf

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 7:48:55 PM2/20/01
to
j...@watson.ibm.com wrote:
> So what? In a market economy supply glitches occur all the
> time and normally don't require rationing (the rolling blackouts are
> a particularly inefficient form of rationing). Instead prices rise
> reducing consumption to what can be supplied. If ecoterrorists blow
> up 10% of existing power capacity then they can be blamed for the
> blackouts which may ensue until the system has time to adjust.
> However if environmentalists prevent an additional 10% of capacity
> from being built the system has plenty of time to adjust by
> restraining demand (via price increases or other means) or finding
> alternative ways of increasing supply. If the politicians and
> utilities in California decided to drive off a cliff instead this is
> their fault not the environmentalists.

Agreed. Hopefully next election the voters will be offered some alternative to
an ennui of kaka-brokering accolytes.

Germanating Thought

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 8:16:48 PM2/20/01
to
Why would a power company have to petition to stop production a their own
power plant?

John McCarthy

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 8:19:44 PM2/20/01
to
Hmm. I think I better get out of this argument, not having the time
to do the necessary research.

Chris Torek

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 8:31:26 PM2/20/01
to
In article <B6B872E1.AA1C%the...@tznet.com>

Germanating Thought <the...@tznet.com> writes:
>Why would a power company have to petition to stop production a their own
>power plant?

The legal issues around building power plants are complex. State
and Federal regulators sit in and second-guess all kinds of decisions,
both before and after deregulation.

In any case, though, the above is not what they did. They (SoCal
Edison) petitioned to stop construction of power plants *not* owned
by them, that would generate relatively expensive electricity (six
or seven or even eight cents per kWh) that they would then have to
buy at high prices, to sell to their customers at not-so-high
prices. They assumed they would be able to buy *other* electricity
at prices like three or four cents per kWh.

The idea was: "If they don't build those expensive ones, someone
else will build cheap ones. If we don't build it, they will come
anyway."

As we have seen, "if you don't build it, they *won't* come". :-)

As a general rule, "environmentally friendly" power (whatever that
means) tends to be more expensive than (e.g.) coal power or (today)
nuclear. Whether cost should be the only consideration, or whether
there should be other issues considered, is a legitimate social
issue.

(Since my own personal leanings tend towards the libertarian, I
would prefer if "indirect" costs -- such as athsma induced by SOx
and NOx emissions, or building erosion from acid rain, or whatever
-- were recaptured and charged back to the ones setting up the
situation that produces those costs. Then everyone can just use
dollars to optimize the economy. Capturing such costs is very
difficult though, and there are legitimate reasons to try other
methods.)

Tim O'Flaherty

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 9:57:52 PM2/20/01
to
I originally posted this at 11:33 this (Tue Feb.20) morning and though it is
in my sent box I see nothing in the newsgroup. My apologies if you get it
twice.

Ian St. John wrote in message


>
>http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profiles/california/ca.html#t4
>shows that between 1988 and 1993 there was virtually no change in utility
>capacity. Yet by 1998 the capacity was about two thirds of previous levels.
>. table reproduced in part below.
>
>Table 4. Electric Power Industry Generating Capability by Plant Type, 1988,
>1993, and 1998
> 1988 1993 1998
>Total Utility 44,429 44,313 30,663
>
>

They also note that over this same period the Non utility portion of
capacity has grown from 19.4% in 1988 to 41.4% in 1998.

Total Nonutility capacity

1988-10,705MW

1993-10,109MW

1998-21,686MW

The idea of distributed generation seems to be taking hold. It in
unfortunate that with over 40% of capacity no breakdown of non-utility
sources is provided.

They also note that the total capacity (all sources) dropped from 55.1MW to
52.3MW from 88 to 98. So it only took a little drop in total capacity to
squeeze prices into the stratosphere.


Regards , Tim O'Flaherty

Paul L. Studier

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 10:08:24 PM2/20/01
to

Chris Torek wrote:

>
> (Since my own personal leanings tend towards the libertarian, I
> would prefer if "indirect" costs -- such as athsma induced by SOx
> and NOx emissions, or building erosion from acid rain, or whatever
> -- were recaptured and charged back to the ones setting up the
> situation that produces those costs. Then everyone can just use
> dollars to optimize the economy. Capturing such costs is very
> difficult though, and there are legitimate reasons to try other
> methods.)
> --

Bravo! Without a system to internalize indirect costs by charging
polluters for pollution, it is not possible to even know which
technologies are better environmentally. All energy production
pollutes. Solar pollutes when the solar cells are fabricated from
sand and chemicals, and when you finally throw them away at
the end of their life. The only way to judge solar against gas or
oil is by charging both industries for their pollution at all the
stages, and then comparing prices.

--
Paul L. Studier <Stu...@pleasenospamtoPaulStudier.com>
When you work, you create. When you win, you just take from the loser.
Libertarian Party http://www.lp.org


Germanating Thought

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 10:16:28 PM2/20/01
to
Here's rationale I can understand.


> From: to...@elf.bsdi.com (Chris Torek)
> Organization: none of the above
> Newsgroups: sci.energy,sci.environment
> Date: 20 Feb 2001 17:31:26 -0800
> Subject: Re: "Need Nukes Now" - so says Silicon Valley Execs
>

Ian St. John

unread,
Feb 20, 2001, 10:56:57 PM2/20/01
to

"Tim O'Flaherty" <pinw...@attcanada.net> wrote in message
news:rnFk6.378$TW....@tor-nn1.netcom.ca...

You assume that the non-utility power is available to the general market.
Non-utility power sources are a response to unreliable power, and generally
routed to one specific use, not connected to the general distribution
system.


malcolm.scott

unread,
Feb 21, 2001, 6:12:30 AM2/21/01
to

"Chris Torek" <to...@elf.bsdi.com> wrote in message
news:96v5pe$5sd$1...@elf.bsdi.com...

Yes, we also need to put something in for CO2 and fuel depletion too. Just
enough to make renewables cost effective.
Malcolm


Tim O'Flaherty

unread,
Feb 21, 2001, 11:54:45 AM2/21/01
to

Ian St. John wrote in message <96vegu$2u3b$1...@news.tht.net>...

Without information to the contrary it is reasonable to assume a portion of
that non-utility increase was plant sold by utilities. It is possible that
is was taken off line for private use but it is also possible the load went
with it.

You claim the drop in utility capacity was do to decomissioning and not
sell offs but the increase in non-utility capacity from 1993 to 1998 was
11.577 GW and the loss in utility capacity over that same period was 13.65
GW.

What new plants (The lack of which was the point of this thread eh?) or
decomissionings can you cite over the period from 1993 to 1998?

--
Windpower, over 16,461 Mw sold.

Assuming a 25% Capacity factor,
that's over 44,130 1980 F-100 equivalents !!

Germanating Thought

unread,
Feb 21, 2001, 11:20:28 AM2/21/01
to

> Yes, we also need to put something in for CO2 and fuel depletion too. Just
> enough to make renewables cost effective.
> Malcolm

but would it make renewables cost effective.

Jeffrey Siegal

unread,
Feb 21, 2001, 5:13:26 PM2/21/01
to
"malcolm.scott" wrote:
> Yes, we also need to put something in for CO2 and fuel depletion too. Just
> enough to make renewables cost effective.

CO2 yes, but fuel depleation is already reflected in the willingness of
the owner of the fuel to sell it. People like to bash OPEC, but the
truth is their limited production policies are entirely consistent with
sustainable long-term energy policy.

The exception, of course, is when nobody owns the fuel in the ground,
and politicians use various generous "lease", "exploration rights", and
"extraction fee" policies as ways of buying political favor with the
energy industry.

malcolm.scott

unread,
Feb 21, 2001, 6:53:57 PM2/21/01
to

"Jeffrey Siegal" <j...@quiotix.com> wrote in message
news:3A943D86...@quiotix.com...

My understanding is that OPEC will attempt to roughly maintain a price just
below the level that will encourage alternative fuels. This level (e.g. the
present level) will, I'm sure, not be high enough to encourage serious
conservation either, so the result is business as usual.
Malcolm


Timothy Miller

unread,
Feb 21, 2001, 8:15:53 PM2/21/01
to
fun...@my-deja.com wrote:

McNealy's speech was on my local NPR station today. He also said that
we need less Microsoft. Who wants to CTRL-ALT-DEL in the dark?

>Silicon Valley Executives Cite the
>Need for Nuclear Power
>
>Feb. 13, 2001 - Stung by the electricity shortages that have plagued
>California this winter, two of the world’s top technology executives have
>extolled the value of nuclear energy in recent weeks.
>
>Last Thursday, at a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon in
>Washington, D.C., Scott McNealy, chairman of the board and chief
>executive officer of Sun Microsystems, spoke of California’s energy woes
>and the impact they are having on his Palo Alto-based company and its
>employees.
>
>"This country needs to figure out an energy policy ... and I’m going to
>do the politically incorrect thing and tell you the answer’s going to be
>nuclear power. I have not yet heard anybody utter the phrase ‘nuclear
>power’ in California yet. But in terms of environmental and cost and
>competitiveness and all the rest of it, I just don't see any other solution
>..
>Rolling blackouts are a bad thing."

j...@watson.ibm.com

unread,
Feb 21, 2001, 9:06:16 PM2/21/01
to
In article <x4hlmr0...@Steam.Stanford.EDU>,
on 20 Feb 2001 16:10:13 -0800,
John McCarthy <j...@Steam.Stanford.EDU> writes:

<snip>

>In fact nuclear power will provide as much electricity as anyone wants
>with greater safety than most other sources of energy in use and at
>prices people can afford. The environmentalist leaders have, for
>historical reasons that were always bad, fanatical prejudices against
>nuclear energy. However, their prejudices extend to all forms of
>energy. You can see plenty of minimalist ideology on this newsgroup
>from people who brag that they use little energy and demand that
>everyone else be forced to do likewise.

I think this is backwards. I expect the leaders being more
intelligent and worldly than their followers are somewhat less
against nuclear. However they know their fanatical antinuclear
membership will pitch them out if they compromise too much.
As I recall the Sierra Club at one time favored nuclear
until its membership revolted.
This pattern of comparatively moderate leaders constrained
by a rabid membership is not confined to the environmental movement.
FWIW I think attempting to build new nuclear power plants
would be an extremely stupid thing for California to do. Some LNG
terminals might be a good idea however. Anyone know what the cost
of shipping LNG is?
James B. Shearer

Ian St. John

unread,
Feb 21, 2001, 9:53:03 PM2/21/01
to

"Tim O'Flaherty" <pinw...@attcanada.net> wrote in message
news:%DRk6.479$TW....@tor-nn1.netcom.ca...

The capacity went, but remember that 1: these are older oil or combined
cycle plants with high fuel costs. Despite this,
http://www.nandotimes.com/noframes/business/story/0,2469,500290755-500460873
-503062270-0,00.html point out that these non-utility companies are reaping
enormous profits. One cluse as to why can be found in
http://www.uniontrib.com/news/reports/power/20010220-9999_1n20stadium.html
which notes that

-----------------------
"The company has seen sweet profit of late. Some say Enron, along with other
power concerns, has taken advantage of California's botched move to
deregulate the energy industry, though the company says most of its profits
came from outside the state. "
----------------------

In other words, they were selling California generated power during the
crisis outside of the state, and reimporting it on the spot market at high
profits. As
http://www.uniontrib.com/news/reports/power/20010211-9999_1n11shut.html
notes,

-------------------------------
"At the start of deregulation in 1998, it had outage coordination control
over 40 percent of the plants in its service area, which allowed the ISO to
mandate maintenance schedules. As key operating agreements with the new
plant owners expired, however, the ISO's coordination authority decreased to
just 20 percent of the 800 facilities in its control area.

This leaves some 640 power plants in California shutting down as they please
for routine maintenance. About half the outages in recent weeks were for
preplanned work.

"There are too many planned outages at the same time," said Gregory Van
Pelt, manager of outage coordination for the ISO.

The loss of authority leaves the ISO in the position of requesting but
unable to compel the operation of plants it considers essential. "
-----------------------------------

>
> You claim the drop in utility capacity was do to decomissioning and not
> sell offs but the increase in non-utility capacity from 1993 to 1998 was
> 11.577 GW and the loss in utility capacity over that same period was 13.65
> GW.

I claimed that regulated power capacity dropped, and this was not from one
utility selling to another. These plants, sold to 'non-utility' companies
are not regulated, or required to supply California with power as a duty.
They are free to export it, and sell it on the California spot market at
huge prices to supply the loads (which did *not* dissapear with the sale of
the plant). They are free to remove the plants for 'servicing' at any time
to inflate spot market prices, or just because they decide to. They may
supply one specific load, and remove it from requiring utility power, but
nothing shows this to be happening..

As seen by
http://www.geoinvestor.com/archives/fpgarchives/oct1900powerpolitics.htm

""Price movements in California and the WSCC are consistent with analysis by
Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which has demonstrated a high
correlation between low capacity reserve margins and high spot prices in
other regions of the U.S.," the report says. The PX also notes that prices
were sometimes higher in other parts of the western U.S. than in California
this summer -- further evidence of a genuine market imbalance between supply
and demand rather than collusive behavior in the California power market. "

indicates that all of that capacity offline, had more than a little to do
with the high spot market prices, on which they profited.


>
> What new plants (The lack of which was the point of this thread eh?) or

I've read fungees posting. Nothing in it points to a lack of new plants.
Only to nuclear as the most environmentally effective option for new plant
construction.

> decomissionings can you cite over the period from 1993 to 1998?

The point was the reduction in utility power capacity. I don't remember
claiming that any plants were decommisioned, although, it should be noted
that 10% of californias power plants over 50 years old, and 37% are over 40.
At some point the increased maintenance makes decommisioning a 'fait
acompli'.

Setting up a 'straw man'? This period is (mostly) before deregulation and
represents the capacity planning of that time and place.


Jeffrey Siegal

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 5:18:08 AM2/22/01
to
"malcolm.scott" wrote:
> My understanding is that OPEC will attempt to roughly maintain a price just
> below the level that will encourage alternative fuels.

That's not your "understanding," that's your conspiracy theory. If it
is true, and OPEC really is selling oil at a price which is too low,
then the beneficiaries of that policy are those who use oil. If you
believe that, then the logical response is to take the handout as long
as they're willing to give it, saving money which can be used to develop
alternatives later.

> This level (e.g. the
> present level) will, I'm sure, not be high enough to encourage serious
> conservation either, so the result is business as usual.

Then the oil will be deplete more quickly, the price will inevitably
rise (even if OPEC would prefer otherwise) and then alternative fuels
will become encouraged.

Problem solved. As I said, depletion is really a non-issue from the
point of view of market failure. Environmental impact is not.

Paul F. Dietz

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Feb 22, 2001, 5:40:22 AM2/22/01
to
j...@watson.ibm.com wrote:

> FWIW I think attempting to build new nuclear power plants
> would be an extremely stupid thing for California to do. Some LNG
> terminals might be a good idea however. Anyone know what the cost
> of shipping LNG is?

Anyone know what the cost of a worst-case LNG tanker explosion
would be?

Paul

malcolm.scott

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 6:31:25 AM2/22/01
to

"Jeffrey Siegal" <j...@quiotix.com> wrote in message
news:3A94E760...@quiotix.com...

I don't think it has anything to do with conspiracies, it's just standard
supply and demand. Their task is to maximise their returns, or it should be
if they are choosing to supply into other countries that are doing the same.
I like that bit about saving money :) Who's doing that then? and can you
make fuel from money or is it paper money for burning to keep warm? If you
said we were spending the savings on forests to feed the boilers of the
future I'd be more confident.
The quicker the oil is depleted the faster will rise the CO2 content of the
atmosphere. Do you really think that's OK? Wouldn't it be better to
encourage sustainable fuels now to extend the fossil fuel life, and reduce
noxious and CO2 emmissions?
Malcolm

Jeffrey Siegal

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 7:39:56 AM2/22/01
to
"malcolm.scott" wrote:
> I don't think it has anything to do with conspiracies, it's just standard
> supply and demand. Their task is to maximise their returns, or it should be
> if they are choosing to supply into other countries that are doing the same.

Maximizing their return means maximizing the value of what they have in
the ground. Selling it at too low a price doesn't do that.

> I like that bit about saving money :) Who's doing that then? and can you
> make fuel from money or is it paper money for burning to keep warm?

You can invest money to improve energy efficiency or develop new
technology, or you can just invest money elsewhere in the economy to
create greater wealth which can be tapped later for energy resource
development and/or research.

> The quicker the oil is depleted the faster will rise the CO2 content of the
> atmosphere.

That's not true. The quicker oil is *burned*, the faster the rise in
CO2 content (probably). But that's quite different from depletion. For
example, consider hypothetically oil in the ground to to be essentially
infinite. Depletion would be a non-issue, but the rate of *burning*
would still be an issue from the point of view of CO2.

> Do you really think that's OK?

I already said that CO2 is a separate issue, and one which really does
need to be incorporated into the cost of fuels through taxation or some
sort of pollution credit system.

> Wouldn't it be better to
> encourage sustainable fuels now to extend the fossil fuel life

Maybe, maybe not. It really all depends on the cost.

> and reduce noxious and CO2 emmissions?

Reducing emissions is a separate issue (which also depends on cost, but
in a different way).

Jeffrey Siegal

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 7:40:45 AM2/22/01
to

Not significantly higher in many parts of California than anywhere else.

fungee

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Feb 22, 2001, 8:11:06 AM2/22/01
to
In article <hS6l6.9267$MN.2...@news2-win.server.ntlworld.com>,
malcolm.scott <malcol...@ntlworld.com> writes:

>I don't think it has anything to do with conspiracies, it's just standard
>supply and demand. Their task is to maximise their returns, or it should be
>if they are choosing to supply into other countries that are doing the same.

I think that's right. OPEC produces amounts predicted to maximize long-term
profitability. If they were to limit production drastically, the price would
skyrocket near-term, and this would make other fuels look more favorable.
Power plants would be even more reluctant to burn oil in peaking units. More
importantly, a drastic increase in price would cause Americans to migrate
away from gas guzzling SUVs toward hybrids, four-cylinders and public
transportation. Once they did that, their reduction in demand would likely
be long-term if not perpetual.

Didn't OPEC originally stand for Organized Petroleum Export Conspiracy? :)

--

malcolm.scott

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Feb 22, 2001, 8:48:55 AM2/22/01
to

"Jeffrey Siegal" <j...@quiotix.com> wrote in message
news:3A95089C...@quiotix.com...

> "malcolm.scott" wrote:
> > I don't think it has anything to do with conspiracies, it's just
standard
> > supply and demand. Their task is to maximise their returns, or it
should be
> > if they are choosing to supply into other countries that are doing the
same.
>
> Maximizing their return means maximizing the value of what they have in
> the ground. Selling it at too low a price doesn't do that.

I believe it does if it discourages people from developing alternatives.

>
> > I like that bit about saving money :) Who's doing that then? and can you
> > make fuel from money or is it paper money for burning to keep warm?
>
> You can invest money to improve energy efficiency or develop new
> technology, or you can just invest money elsewhere in the economy to
> create greater wealth which can be tapped later for energy resource
> development and/or research.

That would be ok if we did it. e.g. we could invest in higher levels of
insulation or we could build a high volume pv factory. We don't do it, we
just say oh it's cheap who cares about it let's waste it.

>
> > The quicker the oil is depleted the faster will rise the CO2 content of
the
> > atmosphere.
>
> That's not true. The quicker oil is *burned*, the faster the rise in
> CO2 content (probably). But that's quite different from depletion. For
> example, consider hypothetically oil in the ground to to be essentially
> infinite. Depletion would be a non-issue, but the rate of *burning*
> would still be an issue from the point of view of CO2.

I see what you mean but aren't they linked? Didn't the carbon in the ground
used to be CO2 in the air? I understand that you want to consider the
problems separately but to me they all come back to the one source, that we
are simply burning too much fossil fuel too quickly.

>
> > Do you really think that's OK?
>
> I already said that CO2 is a separate issue, and one which really does
> need to be incorporated into the cost of fuels through taxation or some
> sort of pollution credit system.

A small tax or credit is not going help here. If increased CO2 does cause
widespread disruption then money is not going to help. If people just pay
the tax then nothing will be done. The purpose of the tax must be to
incentivise people to switch to sustainable fuels.

>
> > Wouldn't it be better to
> > encourage sustainable fuels now to extend the fossil fuel life
>
> Maybe, maybe not. It really all depends on the cost.

Better to pay a small price now, I think. There are too many people with
the rock bottom price for fuels imprinted in their heads. I can't explain
it. They'll pay twice as much as they need to for a flashy car, but stamp
their little feet when the price of fuel goes up.

Malcolm


Jeffrey Siegal

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 9:07:40 AM2/22/01
to
fungee wrote:
> I think that's right. OPEC produces amounts predicted to maximize long-term
> profitability. If they were to limit production drastically, the price would
> skyrocket near-term, and this would make other fuels look more favorable.

But, at the same time, excess production would results in too low of a
return for the non-renewable asset they have in the ground. Selling it
at a slower rate can yeild a higher return.

This balances short term income against long term conservation.

Jeffrey Siegal

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 9:13:23 AM2/22/01
to
"malcolm.scott" wrote:
> > I already said that CO2 is a separate issue, and one which really does
> > need to be incorporated into the cost of fuels through taxation or some
> > sort of pollution credit system.
>
> A small tax or credit is not going help here.

I didn't say it would be small. The size would depend on the best
estimate of the environmental impact.

> The purpose of the tax must be to
> incentivise people to switch to sustainable fuels.

The purpose of the tax is to not to favor one outcome or another, but to
incorporate the actual cost of environmental damage back into the price
being paid by the user of one resource. If that makes other resources,
such as sustainable sources, more economical, then people will switch.
Whether it makes sense to encourage people to switch or not (or just
reduce energy usage altogether) is not an absolute but really does
depend on the cost.

People will not switch, in significant numbers, simply because you or
anyone else says it is a good thing. They will only do it if the
economics make sense. Money talks.

> > Maybe, maybe not. It really all depends on the cost.
>
> Better to pay a small price now, I think.

If the price is small, yes. If the price is not so small, then maybe
not. It really just depends.

> There are too many people with
> the rock bottom price for fuels imprinted in their heads. I can't explain
> it.

Then just save your breath and let it run for a while. If you are
correct and fuels start running out, then people will just have to
adjust. Really, nothing you say is going to change the basic economics
of cheap fuels anyway. If OPEC wants to liquidate their oil cheap, I'll
just use their cheap oil and then switch to something else later.
That's a problem for OPEC, not for me.

Don Libby

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 10:49:09 AM2/22/01
to

To BLEVE or not to BLEVE?
http://www.eao.gov.bc.ca/PROJECT/ENERGY/WGSI/trinity5.htm


Why would CA build LNG terminals? To export LNG? For their own use,
they'd be *MUCH* better off building new pipelines to offshore gas
fields.

Net energy (NRG out/NRG in) of LNG: 5.6
Net energy of Pipeline NG: 26
Net energy of nuclear (Diffusion enrichment): 15-25
Net energy of nuclear (Centrifuge enrichment): 43-76

Why shouldn't CA extract gas from the outer continental shelf?
Why shouldn't SMUD replace the old Rancho Seco reactor with a new one?

-dl

--

*********************************************************
* Replace "never.spam" with "dlibby" to reply by e-mail *
*********************************************************

fungee

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 11:12:02 AM2/22/01
to
In article <3A951E83...@quiotix.com>, Jeffrey Siegal <j...@quiotix.com>
writes:

>"malcolm.scott" wrote:
>> > I already said that CO2 is a separate issue, and one which really does
>> > need to be incorporated into the cost of fuels through taxation or some
>> > sort of pollution credit system.
>>
>> A small tax or credit is not going help here.
>
>I didn't say it would be small. The size would depend on the best
>estimate of the environmental impact.
>
>> The purpose of the tax must be to
>> incentivise people to switch to sustainable fuels.
>
>The purpose of the tax is to not to favor one outcome or another, but to
>incorporate the actual cost of environmental damage back into the price
>being paid by the user of one resource.

Might as well raise the tax on cars, houses, food, clothing, etc. then, too,
eh?

fungee

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 11:11:05 AM2/22/01
to
In article <3A951E83...@quiotix.com>, Jeffrey Siegal <j...@quiotix.com>
writes:
>"malcolm.scott" wrote:
>> > I already said that CO2 is a separate issue, and one which really does
>> > need to be incorporated into the cost of fuels through taxation or some
>> > sort of pollution credit system.
>>
>> A small tax or credit is not going help here.
>
>I didn't say it would be small. The size would depend on the best
>estimate of the environmental impact.
>
>> The purpose of the tax must be to
>> incentivise people to switch to sustainable fuels.
>
>The purpose of the tax is to not to favor one outcome or another, but to
>incorporate the actual cost of environmental damage back into the price
>being paid by the user of one resource.

Might as well raise the tax on cars, houses, food, clothing, etc. then, too,

j...@watson.ibm.com

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 12:19:04 PM2/22/01
to
In article <3A94EC96...@interaccess.com>,
on Thu, 22 Feb 2001 04:40:22 -0600,

Well, I remember reading somewhere that the energy content
was the same as a 2 megaton bomb. Of course this would depend on the
capacity of the tanker. I would suggest putting the terminal in an
isolated area.
James B. Shearer

j...@watson.ibm.com

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Feb 22, 2001, 12:22:51 PM2/22/01
to
In article <3A9533B6...@tds.net>,
on Thu, 22 Feb 2001 15:49:09 GMT,

Don Libby <never...@tds.net> writes:
>"Paul F. Dietz" wrote:
>>
>> j...@watson.ibm.com wrote:
>>
>> > FWIW I think attempting to build new nuclear power plants
>> > would be an extremely stupid thing for California to do. Some LNG
>> > terminals might be a good idea however. Anyone know what the cost
>> > of shipping LNG is?

<snip>

>Why would CA build LNG terminals? To export LNG? For their own use,
>they'd be *MUCH* better off building new pipelines to offshore gas
>fields.

For their own use. I was unaware that there are substantial
natural gas reserves off the California cost. Is that the case? Is
it currently legal to develop them?

>Net energy (NRG out/NRG in) of LNG: 5.6
>Net energy of Pipeline NG: 26
>Net energy of nuclear (Diffusion enrichment): 15-25
>Net energy of nuclear (Centrifuge enrichment): 43-76

What does this have to do with anything? Cost is what
matters.

>Why shouldn't CA extract gas from the outer continental shelf?

I don't know. Why aren't they doing it now.

>Why shouldn't SMUD replace the old Rancho Seco reactor with a new one?

Because it would be really, really stupid. Or to elaborate
because it would cost so much that the electricity generated would be
uncompetitive even assuming they were able to complete the plant which
I would not bet on given the vigorous opposition it would inspire and
the demonstrated inability of utilities to manage nuclear construction
projects well.
James B. Shearer

Dennis Towne

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 2:41:26 PM2/22/01
to

Woah, you're off by about 5 orders of magnitude there. A 20 ton LNG
trailer would have roughly the energy content of 20 tons of tnt, making
it a 20 ton bomb. You might get 2 MT into an oil supertanker tho...

-dennis T

Graham Cowan

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Feb 22, 2001, 3:25:51 PM2/22/01
to

10^n tonnes methane is equivalent to 10^(n+1.1) tonnes TNT.
Recall that TNT is fuel plus oxidizer, all in one molecule,
while methane can explode only after mixing with air.

---
Boron: A Better Energy Carrier than Hydrogen?
http://www.eagle.ca/~gcowan/boron_blast.html

j...@watson.ibm.com

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Feb 22, 2001, 3:46:19 PM2/22/01
to
In article <3A956B66...@xirr.com>,
on Thu, 22 Feb 2001 13:41:26 -0600,

I am talking about huge ships designed to ship LNG as cheaply
as possible across oceans. They carry a bit more than 20 tons at a
time.
James B. Shearer

Jeffrey Siegal

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 5:55:35 PM2/22/01
to
fungee wrote:
> >The purpose of the tax is to not to favor one outcome or another, but to
> >incorporate the actual cost of environmental damage back into the price
> >being paid by the user of one resource.
>
> Might as well raise the tax on cars, houses, food, clothing, etc. then, too,
> eh?

No, because those don't achieve the desired goal as directly or
effectively.

For example, taxing new cars encourages people to keep their older, less
efficient cars. Taxing gasoline has the opposite effect.

Tim O'Flaherty

unread,
Feb 22, 2001, 8:11:46 PM2/22/01