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Nuclear Economics

April 23, 2016. NIRS and AGREE submit extensive comments to New York PSC that show how NY can meet its 2030 carbon emissions goals without nuclear (and thus without nuclear subsidies).

October 22, 2015. NIRS/AGREE analysis finds FitzPatrick reactor can be replaced with clean & renewable energy at a lower cost. Press release; full analysis

May 27, 2015. NIRS brief to D.C. Public Service Commission against proposed Exelon takeover of Pepco. Briefs in opposition to takeover by GRID 2.0 and DC SUN.

April 9, 2015. Growing list of DC Advisory Neighborhood Commissions oppose proposed Exelon/Pepco merger. None support it.

February 18, 2015. NIRS comments to Maryland Public Service Commission in opposition to proposed Exelon-Pepco merger.

February 3, 2015. Proposed Ginna reactor bailout and rate hike. A video webinar with Jessica Azulay of Alliance for a Green Economy and Tim Judson of Nuclear Information and Resource Service.

January 13, 2015. NIRS' executive director Tim Judson's third testimony to Washington DC Public Service Commission on proposed Exelon/Pepco merger focuses on reactor decommissioning liabilities Pepco ratepayers could be exposed to if merger were approved.

January 9, 2015. Report from four Illinois state agencies on the implications of shutdown of some Exelon reactors. Exelon, and some state legislators, had hoped this report would lay the groundwork for a ratepayer bailout of the utility's uneconomic nukes, but it falls far short of that intent.

January 9, 2015. Renewable Energies versus Nuclear Power: Comparing Financial Support. A report on energy subsidies in the European Union and how they are best allocated, commissioned by the Vienna (Austria) Ombuds-Office for Environmental Protection. Report blasts subsidies for proposed Hinkley Point UK reactors; concludes renewable energy support is more economical and effective than subsidies for nuclear power.

January 6, 2015. Testimony of NIRS' executive director Tim Judson before Washington DC Public Service Commission in opposition to proposed Exelon/Pepco merger.

December 22, 2014. Watchdogs Tell Regulators Ginna Nuclear Plant May Cost Rochester Ratepayers an Extra $80 million Per Year. Press release. Analysis of Exelon's bailout request.

November 11, 2014. 10 myths debunked about the proposed Exelon-Pepco merger. Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Public Citizen explain why the proposed merger would be a bad deal for Maryland.

November 3, 2014. 35 organizations, led by NIRS, submit comments to Department of Energy urging an end to its nuclear power loan program and to either return remaining funds to the U.S. Treasury or transfer them to its renewable energy loan program. Press release. Full comments.

September 11, 2014. Killing the Competition. The Nuclear Power Agenda to block climate action, stop renewable energy, and subsidize old reactors. Major new report by NIRS' Executive Director Tim Judson details how major utilities and nuclear power companies have begun a campaign to rig energy markets, climate regulations, and clean energy programs to prevent the advance of renewable energy. Using a deceptive public relations campaign and heavily-funded front groups like Nuclear Matters, Third Way, and C2ES, corporations including Exelon and Entergy have tried to drum up fears of a national energy crisis stemming from the closure of several aging, uncompetitive nuclear plants and the advance of renewable energy. While touting the need to “preserve” nuclear power, nuclear interests have covered up the actual reforms they are seeking and their implications for the U.S.’s energy future. Audio recording (mp3 file) of press conference release of the report featuring Tim Judson, Dr. Mark Cooper, Vermont Law School, Institute for Energy and the Environment; Tyson Slocum, energy program director, Public Citizen; Deb Katz, executive director, Citizens Awareness Network (New England); David Kraft, executive director, Nuclear Energy Information Service (Illinois); Jessica Azulay, program director, Alliance for a Green Economy (New York).

August 15, 2014. Press release from Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) in Chicago: Illinois Legislature Should Oppose Exelon Bailout.

July 30, 2014. World Nuclear Status Report 2014. An indispensable document. This year's conclusion: nuclear power globally is in a historic dinosaurs in a garden...

May 13, 2014. Top Ten Most Distortionary Energy Subsidies. Highly readable and useful report from Earthtrack.

December 20, 2013. New Baucus tax proposal takes an Orwellian approach: would redefine dirty energy as clean. NIRS press release.

November 8, 2013. NIRS attempts delivery of 22,500+ petition signatures to Energy Secretary Moniz calling for end to taxpayer loan for construction of Vogtle reactors. DOE refuses to accept petitions, security forces deletion of photo documenting delivery. Press release (pdf).

July 23, 2013. Indispensable resource: World Nuclear Status Report 2013 from Mycle Schneider, Anthony Froggatt and more.

June 12, 2012: New report from Greenpeace International: Toxic Assets: Nuclear Power in the 21st Century.

May 9, 2012:. Nuclear Loans, Subsidies & other Taxpayer Swindles…. Powerpoint presentation by NIRS' Michael Mariotte to Sierra Club National Nuclear Strategy Meeting, May 5, 2012.

March 27, 2012: Brilliant new study from UK's Energy Fair: The Financial Risks of Investing in Nuclear Power.

February 14, 2012: Nuclear Socialism in the American Heartland. New report predicts an $800+/year increase in Iowa electric bills under proposed nuke law.

December 28, 2011: New paper from Marc Cooper of Vermont Law School PDF predicts major impacts for U.S. nuclear industry from Fukushima during 2012: nuclear costs will rise and there will be significant regulatory delays.

December 19, 2011: New study published by National Bureau of Economic Research PDF concludes that construction costs for new reactors make nuclear power too expensive to be competitive.

October 26, 2011: Reps. Waxman, Markey & DeGette call for House investigation into proposed nuclear loan guarantees. PDF

August 22, 2011: Congressional Budget Office report on government's loan guarantee program for new reactor construction. Concludes that government is understating risks to taxpayers.PDF

May 25, 2011: 180+ Organizations urge Congressional appropriators to end nuclear loan program. Letter. Press release. PDF

February 23, 2011: New public opinion poll finds that 70% of North Carolina oppose a utility plan to increase electric rates to pay for new nuclear reactor construction (also know as CWIP, or Construction Work in Progress). Press release. PDF Poll data. PDF

February 23, 2011: Important new report from Union of Concerned Scientists. First-ever comprehensive look at taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power, historical and current. PDF Among the report’s conclusions are that “in some cases it would have cost taxpayers less to simply buy kilowatts on the open market and give them away.”

February 11, 2011: Why nuclear loan guarantees are more imprudent than ever. PDF New economic analysis by Marc Cooper of Vermont Law School.

Table showing job creation from various types of infrastructure investment, including nuclear, solar, wind, building retrofits and several other categories. Nuclear ranks dead last in terms of job creation per million dollars spent. PDF From a 2009 University of Massachusetts study.

November 1, 2010: Letter from 11 groups (NIRS, PSR, Sierra Club, UCS, NRDC, FoE, etc.) to OMB urging no increase in nuclear loan guarantees in 2012 federal budget request. PDF

October 14, 2010. After Calvert Cliffs Collapse:  Two remaining top loan guarantee applicants seen as untenable. South Texas Project and V.C. Summer Reactor Trapped by Same “Powerful Undertow” of Unfavorable Economics, Cheap Natural Gas, Slumping Demand and Runaway Construction Costs That Caused the Collapse of Calvert Cliffs-3. Press release from 10/14/10 press conference.

You can listen to streaming audio of the press conference here:

September 16, 2010: NIRS press release: Industry-funded MIT study on nuclear future suffers from unsupportable reactor construction cost estimate; recommendation for more high-risk taxpayer subsidies to nuclear industry doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.

July 10, 2010: Letter from Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne and Graham Nash to Senator Environment Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) urging her opposition to more taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power. PDF

July 1, 2010. New NIRS report finds that foreign companies and workers would be the big winners from U.S. taxpayer loan guarantees for new reactors. | Report. PDF | Press release. | Audio recording of the press conference.

June 17, 2010: Southern Company expected to accept nuclear loan “guarantee” Friday, June 18; Groups alert journalists to under-reported issues surrounding nuclear loans and the Vogtle reactor project. PDF

June 17, 2010: New analysis from EarthTrack for Friends of the Earth details massive new taxpayer subsidies for new reactors in Kerry-Lieberman’s American Power Act. PDF

May 13, 2010: It's Not Just Vermont: State Lawmakers Do Not Share Congress' Love for the Nuclear Industry, Which Gets Shut Out 0-8 in State Legislatures During 2010. NIRS Press Release. Click here for an audio recording of the press conference.

March 17, 2010. Environmental group letter to Department of Energy expressing concern about the lack of transparency and openness in the DOE’s loan guarantee program. PDF DOE is keeping almost everything about this program secret, contrary to the President’s openness directives.

March 2010: Analysis of S. 2776, Alexander-Webb’s trillion-dollar nuclear bailout bill, from Physicians for Social Responsibility.

March 2010: Center for American Progress explains nuclear loan guarantee credit subsidy costs, and finds current practice underestimates risk to taxpayers.

February 17, 2010: Nuclear Loan Guarantees Aren’t Just Guarantees: They are Actual Taxpayer Loans. NIRS Press Release.

February 17, 2010: Other reaction to President Obama’s announcement of loan guarantees for Georgia’s Vogtle reactors:
Statement of Sierra Club. PDF
Statement of Ralph Nader. PDF
Statement from Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Statement of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Statement of Environment America. PDF

February 17, 2010: International Panel on Fissile Materials: Fast Breeder Reactors Are No Solution to Radioactive Waste. Press release and link to full report.

February 14, 2010: Obama Administration preparing to implement Bush/Mccain energy policy with taxpayer bailout for Southern Company nuclear reactors. NIRS press release.

February 3, 2010: Experts: no good candidates exist for current nuclear reactor loan guarantee bailout funds, much less tripled amount under Obama budget plan. PDF Press release in conjunction with telepressconference.

January 30, 2010: Safe, Clean Energy Advocates Reject Obama's Call for More Nuclear Power; More Than 3,000 Write Obama in Less Than 48 Hours. NIRS Press Release.

January 29, 2010: Obama Budget Said to Triple Nuclear Loan Guaramtee Program. ACT NOW: Tell Obama and Chu: No Taxpayer Bailout for Dirty Reactors. NIRS Alert.

January 28, 2010: Tell President Obama: Nuclear Power is Neither Safe Nor Clean. Then, Bring the Issue to the Public: Send a Letter to the Editor. NIRS Alert.

January 27, 2010: Urgent: Take Action Now to Stop Dirty Energy Bank. NIRS Alert.

January 6, 2010: NIRS, WISE, CNIC (Japan) urge Vietnam to re-examine suspiciously low nuclear reactor cost estimates. Press Release. PDF 34.6KB Letter to Vietnamese officials. PDF 34.6KB

December 16, 2009: Experts: Three latest industry setbacks further dim nuclear “renaissance;” issues can’t be solved with nuclear socialism. Read the statement and listen to a streaming audio of the press conference embedded in the release.

December 11, 2009: Environmental Groups Oppose Taxpayers Being "Scrooged" by Nuclear Loan Guarantees for New Reactors. Press Release.

December 11, 2009: Taxpayer-Backed Loan Guarantees for New Reactors to Companies in MD, SC, GA and TX are a Risky Venture Lacking Accountability, Must be Halted; PDFenvironmental group statement.

December 2, 2009: Letter from 22 environmental groups urging Energy Secretary Steven Chu to suspend loan guarantees for EPR reactors due to unresolved safety and economic concerns. PDF

November 2009: The Renaissance That Wasn’t. PDF New factsheet from Physicians for Social Responsibility detailing the various delays, cost overruns, credit downgrades and design problems that have plagued the nuclear power industry since January 2008.

November 2009: All Risk, No Reward. PDF New study from Marc Cooper of Univ. of Vermont on why Wall Street refuses to take the risk of investing in new reactors, and why Congress and States shouldn’t expose taxpayers to those risks.

October 2009: New study reveals French nuclear construction costs tripled per kilowatt/installed from 1970-2000. So much for a learning curve.

October 13, 2009: “Four Nuclear Myths: A commentary on Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Discipline and on similar writings.” PDF New piece by Rocky Mountain Institute’s Amory Lovins debunks four key myths often propounded by nuclear power supporters:

  1. variable renewable sources of electricity (windpower and photovoltaics) can provide little or no reliable electricity because they are not “baseload”—able to run all the time;
  2. those renewable sources require such enormous amounts of land, hundreds of times more than nuclear power does, that they’re environmentally unacceptable;
  3. all options, including nuclear power, are needed to combat climate change; and
  4. nuclear power’s economics matter little because governments must use it anyway to protect the climate.

September 22, 2009: Comments By Texans For A Safe Energy Policy, Beyond Nuclear, Friends Of The Earth, Nuclear Information And Resource Service, Public Citizen Texas, Physicians For Social Responsibility, and Union Of Concerned Scientists on proposed changes to DOE nuclear loan guarantee program. PDF

World Nuclear Status Report 2009, with special emphasis on economics. Study released by German Department of the Environment. PDF September 2009. Study shows nuclear power is on a downward trend worldwide.

August 7, 2009: Department of Energy proposed rule to change loan guarantee regulations to make it easier to give taxpayer loan guarantees to nuclear power projects. PDF

July 2009: Nuclear subsidies in the House climate and Senate energy bills. PDF A fact sheets from Physicians for Social Responsibility.

July 2009: List of existing subsidies and incentives for constructing new reactors (from R&D to waste management and everything in-between). PDF

July 9, 2009: Comparison by PSR of current Clean Energy Development Administration (or “Clean Energy Bank”) provisions in House climate bill as passed and Senate energy bill still awaiting action. PDF

June 18, 2009: New study finds that it would cost taxpayers and ratepayers $1.9 trillion to $4.1 trillion more over the life of 100 new nuclear reactors than it would to generate the same electricity from a combination of more energy efficiency and renewables. PDF

March 17, 2009: Letter to President Obama from national environmental groups urging no more nuclear loan guarantees. PDF 34.6KB

March 2009: Nuclear Loan Guarantees: Another Taxpayer Bailout Ahead? New report from Union of Concerned Scientists warns that the risk to taxpayers of loan guarantees for new reactors could total $360 Billion to $1.6 Trillion. PDF

February 4, 2009: 243 grassroots groups/small businesses urge Senate to drop nuclear/coal loan guarantees from stimulus bill. PDF

February 2, 2009: Letter from Washington-based groups in opposition to $50 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors and "clean coal" technologies. PDF

January 30, 2009: Senate Appropriators Lard President Obama's Stimulus Package With Up To $50 Billion In Nuclear Reactor Pork. NIRS Press Release.

January 2009: Business Risks and Costs of New Nuclear Power, a new study by CPA Craig Severance, finds that escalating reactor construction and operating costs could lead to electricity from new nukes as high as 25-30 cents per kw/h—significantly higher than industry estimates. PDF

September 11, 2008: PSR analysis of the huge new nuclear subsidies—including unlimited taxpayer loan guarantees for new reactors--in the “Gang of 10” energy bill, due for a Senate vote in mid-September. And you thought the Gang of 10 bill was only about offshore oil drilling……Stay tuned here for more info. PDF

September 5, 2008: The Brave New World of Nuclear Power Economics, an article by NIRS executive director Michael Mariotte PDF

June 30, 2008: The Department of Energy has issued a solicitation for applications for its loan guarantee program authorized by Congress in late 2007. This solicitation is for $30.5 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees, and includes $18.5 billion for new atomic reactors, $2 billion for front-end nuclear fuel cycle facilities (uranium enrichment plant), and $10 billion for renewable energy, energy efficiency and transmission projects. You can read the reactor solicitation here; PDF the fuel cycle solicitation here; PDF and the renewables/efficiency/transmission solicitation here. PDF

Chart submitted by Florida Power and Light to the Florida Public Service Commission showing cost estimates for two new reactors at Turkey Point ranging from $12.1 Billion to $24.3 Billion.

April 3, 2008: Nuclear Power Plant Electricity: A Simple Costing Manual. PDF This is a basic primer from energy consultant Philip D. Lusk that shows how to calculate the kilowatt/hour cost of electricity from a new nuclear reactor. Under the model’s fairly universal assumptions, the cost of electricity from a standard new reactor will be about 19.75 cents per kw/h. Most renewable and efficiency projects would be well below this number, and on an economic basis alone should be implemented first.

March 21, 2008: Testimony of former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford to South Carolina PSC on the economics of Duke Power’s proposed Lee reactors, nuclear power and climate and more. PDF Very useful!

February 6, 2008: Analysis of FY 2009 Department of Energy Budget, by Robert Alvarez of Institute for Policy Studies. PDF

Think New Atomic Reactors Can be Built Cheaply and On-time? Think Again! PDF 79.77KB February 2008

January 28, 2008: Mid-American Nuclear Energy cancels plans to build new reactor in Idaho, citing poor economics of nuclear power. PDF This is especially significant because Mid-American is owned by financier Warren Buffett—if he can’t figure out how to make money on a reactor, who can?

January 2008: World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2007. PDF A new report commissioned by Greens in the European Parliament concludes—contrary to assertions of a nuclear resurgence—that “the number of nuclear power plants operating in the world will most likely decline over the next two decades with a rather sharper decline to be expected after 2020.” The report focuses on the continued poor economics of nuclear power as well as its lack of infrastructure and manufacturing capacity.

November 15, 2007: 14 top energy company beneficiaries of nuclear loan guarantees spent $48 million on lobbying. Co-Op America news release. PDF

November 1, 2007: Fact sheet on Senate provision on taxpayer loan guarantees for new reactors, prepared by coalition of organizations. PDF

October 31, 2007: Letter from taxpayer groups to Senate on nuclear loan guarantees. PDF

October 30, 2007: Issue brief on taxpayer loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors, from Environmental and Energy Study Institute. PDF

EESI sponsored a Congressional briefing on loan guarantees on October 30; presentations from former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford, economist Jim Harding, and Government Accounting Office, click here.

October 17, 2007: The current Energy Bill could give unlimited authority to the Department of Energy (with no further congressional oversight) to award federal guarantees to commercial banks that finance both new nuclear and also coal to liquid construction projects. A broad alliance of groups have produced fact sheets that you can use for background in letters to the editor, calls to congress and educating your friends:
Controversial Loan Guarantees in Current Energy Bill PDF
Why Wall Street Wants American Taxpayers  to Finance Nuclear Power PDF
Foreign Companies to Benefit from U.S. Taxpayer Loan Guarantees PDF
Energy Bill Provisions Undermine Constitutional Safeguards on Taxpayer Purse PDF
Nuclear Power Loan Assistance Will Gobble Up Money For Innovative Technologies PDF

Presentation by David Schlissel of Synapse Energy Economics before the Utah State Legislature Public Utilities and Technology Committee on The Risks of Building New Nuclear Power Plants. Very good primer on nuclear economics with data on the economic pitfalls and problems that await a new generation of reactors. Presentation made September 17, 2007.

Testimony of Mary Olson, Director of NIRS' Southeast office, on North Carolina Senate Bill 3 and "Construction Work in Progress." July 16, 2007

Rep. Upton Seeks $5 Billion Taxpayer Subsidy for New Nuclear Reactors: Critics Charge He's Doing Nuclear Power Industry's. NIRS press release.June 21, 2007

New Greenpeace report on the economics of nuclear power finds that that nuclear power is neither a practical nor economically viable solution to tackling climate change. May 1, 2007

Seven Myths of the Nuclear Renaissance. Presentation by utility economist Jim Harding on the continued failure of nuclear economics. March 7, 2007 Includes a Powerpoint presentation PDF and accompanying speech in pdf format. PDF

Why New Nukes are Risky. PDF 738.29KB Coalition briefing paper on the economic risks of nuclear power, presented to Wall Street analysts. July 8, 2006

Heinrich Boell Foundation Issue Paper No. 5. The Economics of Nuclear Power: Is nuclear power economically viable? What are the insecurities in such calculations? By Steve Thomas, University of Greenwich

Nuclear Power: the Energy Balance -- a comprehensive report, including data, calculations and graphs, on the life-cycle costs -- in money, energy and carbon emissions of nuclear power, and the nuclear waste generated.

Information on the magnitude of subsidies to nuclear power in the United States from Earth Track. This material was presented at a recent symposium on nuclear power and climate change hosted by the Nuclear Policy Research Institute.