Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nuclear bill gets a push in Georgia

Georgia Power wants to build two additional reactors at its Vogtle nuclear plant near Augusta, with the reactors expected to go online in 2017.

SB 31 would let the utility begin collecting $1.6 billion in project financing charges six years earlier, when construction begins.

The charges include about $600,000 in debt interest and $1 billion in “return on equity” —- roughly, profit —- for Georgia Power shareholders.

The company says the early charges would protect its bond rating, hold down costs and ease reactor expenses into bills over six years, instead of adding them abruptly when the reactors are done.

Opponents say the measure would shift risk to ratepayers and tie up their money for years.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monday, February 16, 2009

TMIA Bid to move evac centers fails

In the event of a nuclear emergency at Three Mile Island, residents living within 10 miles of the plant would be evacuated to relocations centers 15 to 20 miles away. But if the event occurred during school hours, some of their children will be bused to pickup centers closer to the evacuation zone, some within a mile. The watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert, fearing that parents who work outside the evacuation zone would not be able to reach the centers because of fleeing traffic, asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to move the sites for children at least five to 10 miles beyond the evacuation zones. Last week, the NRC agency denied TMIA’s petition saying existing emergency plans were adequate to protect the safety of school children in an accident. The agency drew a distinction between the pickup centers for children, and centers for the general population: “Host school pickup centers are intended to serve as temporary locations where school children can be held while they wait for their parents or guardians to pick them up, whereas general population relocation centers offer longer-term assistance to people displaced from their homes,” said Annette L. Vietti-Cook, secretary of the Commission, in a letter announcing the ruling. Eric Epstein, chairman of TMI-Alert, said the ruling “defies logic.” “I don’t think people understand that the closer you are to the 10-mile cusp the more likely it is that the roads will be shut down and folks will only be allowed to go out, and not in,” he said.
Press and Journal

NRC claims US nuclear power plants operate more safely than 30 years ago

The nation’s most serious accident in US commercial nuclear power history led to sweeping changes involving emergency planning and radiation protection involving nuclear protection, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “The NRC heightened and tightened its oversight,” Spokeswoman Diane Screni said. “Plants are operating more safely now than they were at that time.” She said there are two residential inspectors at every nuclear power site in the country. “They’re not there 24/7 but they are there at least five days a week,” she said. “They can go anywhere and look at anything at any time. They are our eyes and ears at the site.”
The Morehead News

New Jersey Utility Plans Major Solar Project

Public Service Electric and Gas, New Jersey’s largest utility, said it would unveil a five-year, one-of-a-kind plan on Tuesday to install solar panels on 200,000 utility poles in its service territory. The project, which the utility must first present to state regulators for approval, would also include putting solar panels on schools and municipal buildings, low-income housing and areas like closed garbage dumps. The utility expects to spend $773 million on the project, which it said would generate 120 megawatts of electricity, one-third of which should come from the panels on utility poles. That amounts to barely 1 percent of the power consumed in the state, but is about 7 percent of the state’s goal of power generated from renewable energy sources by 2020.
New York Times

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Carnegie Mellon Seminars

The Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center sponsors a weekly seminar series in the EPP conference room (Baker Hall 129). These seminars provide an informal means of presenting research, listening to outside speakers, and learning about the electricity industry. Upcoming and past seminar speakers and topics are listed below. When possible the slides for the talk are also available. Eric Epstein will be giving a seminar titled "Appetite for Consumption: The Rise and Fall of the Pennsylvania Ratepayer." See the complete list of seminars.