Saturday, March 2, 2024

Energy Harbor Fleet- Closing of Transaction between Vistra Operations Company LLC and Energy Harbor Nuclear Corporation (Email)

This is to inform the NRC that the activities necessary for closing the transaction between Vistra Operations Company LLC “VistraOps”) and Energy Harbor Nuclear Corp. (“EHNC”) have been completed. The proposed transaction will close on March 1, 2024. We will notify you via telephone once we have completed the closing. We request that the NRC issue the conforming license amendments for Beaver Valley 1 & 2, Davis-Besse, and Perry effective March 1, 2024. Let me know if you have any questions. 

SUBJECT:  Energy Harbor Fleet- Closing of Transaction between Vistra Operations Company LLC and Energy Harbor Nuclear Corporation (Email)

Accession No ML24061A100


Using Web-based ADAMS, select “Advanced Search”
Under “Property,” select “Accession Number”
Under “Value,” enter the Accession Number
Click Search

Legal battle looms over Indian Point water disposal


Legal battle looms over Indian Point water disposal

Legal+battle+looms+over+Indian+Point+water+disposal

Jim Striebich

Byline photo of Jim Roberts

By Jim Roberts

March 1, 2024

Getting the 240 acres of land at Indian Point restored and redeveloped is a goal for everyone involved. The loss of $33 million in annual tax revenue and 1,000 jobs is devastating for the local community.

Holtec International, the company charged with completing the complex task of safely storing the spent uranium fuel rods, removing all the buildings and disposing of any waste materials, showed a timeline for the overall project at the last public meeting of the Indian Point Decommissioning Oversight Board held on Dec. 6.

What began as a target date of 2033 has now been pushed back to 2041 by Holtec, a delay they claim is caused by a state law passed last year that bans disposing 1.3 million gallons of treated wastewater with traces of radioactive tritium into the Hudson River.

At that December meeting, heated discussions about Holtec’s projected delay took center stage. The representative for Riverkeeper, Richard Webster, and state assemblywoman Dana Levenberg both expressed their frustration and anger that Holtec had not prepared an alternate plan to dispose of the water. A follow-up meeting of the board scheduled for Feb. 29 was canceled and the next meeting will now be held on April 25, when an update on how the water will be dealt with is anticipated.

At the Dec. 6 meeting of the Decommissiong Oversight Board, Holtec was questioned about why they didn’t have an alternative plan for water disposal if they couldn’t discharge into Hudson.

Holtec plans to take the fight to court

General work continues to clean up the site. But Holtec says that because they can’t release the water into the river, their plan to dismantle buildings including the reactor vessels, has been put on hold.

Now a representative for the company says that Holtec plans to pursue approval to dump the water by challenging the law.

“You can assume at some point there will probably be litigation over that,” Patrick O’Brien, a spokesman for Holtec, told The Herald this week.

At the December meeting, Holtec discussed two alternatives they explored for disposing the water but ruled them out. One came from a vendor who proposed but then withdrew an idea of using a chemical process to remove tritium from the wastewater. The other option would have grown a crop of plants with the water and then removed it. O’Brien said the company is also exploring the cost to truck the water off-site.

Holtec is also pursuing a state permit to release the water into the Hudson River. For its 40 years of operation Indian Point’s wastewater was released into the river and monitored before being banned last year.

In an image from Holtec’s presentation at the Dec. meeting, they showed an aerial view of the site on 240 acres in Buchanan. The spent fuel casks are at the top of the photo.

According to a spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the agency continues to work closely with federal regulators, Holtec, local officials, and the State’s Decommissioning Oversight Board to ensure the site is cleaned up in a safe, thorough, and prompt manner.

If a completed application were submitted for the permit, a draft permit would be released for public review and comment.

Holtec must comply with state law, critics say

 At the December oversight board meeting, critics of Holtec, featuring heated comments by board members Richard Webster of Riverkeeper and state assemblywoman Dana Levenberg, insisted that the company must abide by the new state law.

“Ultimately, it is Holtec’s responsibility to come up with alternatives to discharging the water, and it is surprising that they failed to have alternative plans ready to go given that there has been a lot of vocal opposition to dumping for nearly a year,” Assemblywoman Levenberg told The Herald.

“Alternatives have been discussed at Decommissioning Oversight Board meetings and among members. At present, I think we should be looking at on-site storage. We have heard at DOB meetings that there are tanks that can store wastewater for many years without leaking, and at the next meeting we are supposed to be hearing from an expert, Arnie Gundersen, who will discuss methods for ensuring the safety of long-term on-site storage for the surrounding community.”

Victoria Leung, the staff attorney for Riverkeeper, echoed the call for onsite storage of the water.

“Riverkeeper’s position, and this has been our position before discharge of the water into the Hudson became illegal, is that wastewater should be stored onsite for a minimum of one half-life. That will give us enough time to figure out what to do with the water after that period and also allow time for technology to evolve,” Leung said.

“Holtec is hoping they can decommission this site for less than what’s in the trust fund so they can take home whatever is left over. At other sites they have mentioned that with inflation they’ve had to wait and leave the money in the fund to draw interest a little bit longer and draw it down later when the financial situation is more favorable.”

Governor Kathy Hochul signed the legislation last August, which is intended to protect the economic vitality of the Hudson River Region by restricting discharges of any radiological substance into the Hudson River in connection with the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant.

“The Hudson River is one of New York’s landmark natural treasures, and it’s critical we stand together to protect it for generations to come,” Governor Hochul said. “My administration remains committed to protecting the economic vitality of the region and working closely with local communities who have advocated so passionately for this cause.”

The Hudson River is one of the nation’s landmark natural treasures said Governor Kathy Hochul. (Photo by Jim Striebich)

“The law aims to safeguard communities in New York’s Hudson Valley region. The Administration will continue to work closely with federal regulators, Holtec, local officials and the State’s Decommissioning Oversight Board to identify feasible and acceptable alternatives of wastewater disposal so that decommissioning Indian Point can continue, jobs can be preserved, and the site can be cleaned up in a safe, thorough, and prompt manner,” the governor said.

Role of the NRC in overseeing nuclear operations

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) oversees the monitoring of materials to ensure that operators stay within federal limits before the release of any treated water.

Neil Sheehan, a spokesperson for the NRC, acknowledged that Holtec filed a notice of the delay in decommissioning Indian Point and said the agency does not rule on issues of state vs federal control.

“Typically, if the plant owner decides they want to challenge a state law that on its face appears to preempt federal law, they could bring a challenge,” Sheehan said.

“For now it’s a moot issue because the company has decided they’re not going to do anything with the water for now. They sent us a notification recently that said they’re delaying their decommissioning of Indian Point by eight years and part of that is they want to determine what their strategy is for dealing with the water.”

Sheehan explained how water is typically disposed. “We don’t dictate to the company how they plan to dispose of the water. At Vermont Yankee all the water there is shipped off-site,” he said.

“There aren’t many instances where the decision has been made to store the water onsite. In most cases they are discharging it the way they did during the operational life of the plant, which is typically to the nearest body of water. They put it into a tank, they mix it up, they sample it, and then there is a tremendous amount of dilution that takes place before it goes to the river and then it dissolves further in the river,” Sheehan said.

Another slide from Holtec’s presentation at the Dec. meeting shows what buildings will remain on the site.  Buildings with yellow tag represent an electrical power issue. Buildings with a green identifier indicate they will contain liquid waste (LW) and rose tagged buildings will remain to support eventual liquid waste (LW) release.

O’Brien maintains that Holtec would base a potential court challenge on the evidence of the safety of current disposal practices. Environmental advocates point to their evidence that they say disproves that claim.

“It’s somewhat frustrating because it’s a known in the industry that the science behind it has shown that it’s safe with environmental monitoring done at all the sites, said Holtec spokesperson O’Brien.

“Unfortunately it’s become a perception vs science argument which is tough. It’s an emotional response. I get the emotion behind it. Trying to educate people to understand the science behind it is a challenge,” he said.


About the Contributor

Jim Roberts

Jim Roberts has been in this business for more than 35 years (hard to believe) and still learning every day. A third-generation Peekskill resident, he started as a lowly researcher at the Westchester Business Journal in 1986 and learned how to be a reporter from many veterans in the field. He’s worked in private companies, Connecticut state government and wrote for the Co-op City Times for 10 years before retiring from full-time work in 2019. Roberts wants to contribute to building the Herald into a news website for residents who care about what’s happening in Peekskill.

NRC Issues Annual Assessments for Nation's Nuclear Plants

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 24-016 March 1, 2024
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200

NRC Issues Annual Assessments for Nation’s Nuclear Plants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued annual letters to the nation’s operating commercial nuclear reactors assessing their performance in 2023.

Of the 94 reactors currently in the agency’s Reactor Oversight Process, 88 reached the highest performance category in safety and security. Those reactors (including Vogtle Unit 4, which was authorized for operation last year) remain under the NRC’s “baseline” inspection program, involving thousands of inspection hours for each reactor.

Six reactors were in the second performance category, as they need to resolve one or two items of low safety significance. For this performance level, regulatory oversight includes additional inspection and follow-up of corrective actions. Reactors in this category are Calvert Cliffs Unit 1 (Maryland), Columbia (Washington), River Bend (Louisiana), V.C. Summer (South Carolina); and Watts Bar Units 1 and 2 (Tennessee).

There were no reactors in the third or fourth categories, which trigger additional NRC oversight, or the fifth category, which requires a reactor to shut down to address its performance problems.

Later this spring and summer, the NRC will host public meetings or other events to discuss the details of the plants’ annual assessment results. Separate announcements will be issued for the public assessment meetings.

The NRC’s website outlines oversight of commercial nuclear power on the Reactor Oversight Process page. The NRC routinely updates each plant’s current performance and posts the latest information as it becomes available to the action matrix summary. Assessment letters are posted at https://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/oversight/listofasmrpt.html (click on “2023006” for each plant). All plants also received an NRC inspection plan for the coming year in their annual assessment letter.

ANNUAL ASSESSMENT LETTER FOR SUSQUEHANNA STEAM ELECTRIC STATION, UNITS 1 AND 2 (REPORTS 05000387/2023006 AND 05000388/2023006)

ANNUAL ASSESSMENT LETTER FOR SUSQUEHANNA STEAM ELECTRIC STATION, UNITS 1 AND 2 (REPORTS 05000387/2023006 AND 05000388/2023006)

ADAMS ACCESSION NUMBER: ML24057A082

AAL_SUS_ROP24 & Rpt 22.pdf

ANNUAL ASSESSMENT LETTER FOR PEACH BOTTOM ATOMIC POWER STATION, UNITS 2 AND 3 (REPORTS 05000277/2023006 AND 05000278/2023006)

ANNUAL ASSESSMENT LETTER FOR PEACH BOTTOM ATOMIC POWER STATION, UNITS 2 AND 3 (REPORTS 05000277/2023006 AND 05000278/2023006)

Friday, March 1, 2024

Korea Times: KHNP to buy enriched uranium from US energy firm Centrus

KHNP to buy enriched uranium from US energy firm Centrus
Posted : 2024-02-28 11:28
Updated : 2024-02-28 14:19



Park Jae-hyuk


By Park Jae-hyuk

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Centrus Energy to ensure the stable supply of enriched uranium from the U.S. nuclear fuel and services provider, the state-run nuclear and hydroelectric plant operator said Wednesday.


They signed the non-binding agreement in Washington on Monday local time, following their signing of a memorandum of understanding last April.


"Through the signing of this LOI, both parties will engage in concrete discussions regarding stable nuclear fuel supply and plan to continue exploring business opportunities in the nuclear sector by expanding the future nuclear fuel supply chain," KHNP CEO Whang Joo-ho said.


The KHNP said the latest agreement outlines substantive business objectives to enhance uranium resource security and nuclear cooperation between the two parties.


"We aim to diversify the supply of enriched uranium used as nuclear fuel," it said in a press release.

"KHNP expects to strengthen nuclear cooperation between Korea and the United States by establishing strategic relationships with Centrus, which is working to re-establish a robust uranium enrichment capacity in the United States."


Centrus is the only American company that has obtained a production license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU), which is used as fuel for advanced reactors and small modular reactors.


In November, the company succeeded in the initial production of 20 kilograms of HALEU at its facility in Piketon, Ohio. The achievement demonstrated its technological and production capabilities for the U.S. Department of Energy.


The KHNP said it has opened the possibility of securing fuel for future reactors as well as for existing commercial reactors, as a result of cooperation with Centrus.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Indian Point owner Holtec used $63K in ratepayer funds for sports teams, fashion show

Indian Point owner Holtec used $63K in ratepayer funds for sports teams, fashion show

Gannett | THOMAS C. ZAMBITO, NEW YORK STATE TEAM


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday cited Holtec International for dipping into ratepayer funds meant for the teardown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant for $63,000 to sponsor baseball and softball teams, a golf outing and a high school fashion show.

The NRC said the payments “do not constitute legitimate decommissioning activities” and gave Holtec 30 days to respond to a violation notice.

Holtec has been told to reimburse the money taken out of roughly $2 billion in decommissioning trust funds it inherited after buying the lower Hudson Valley nuclear plant from Louisiana-based Entergy in May 2021.

The money in the funds come largely from fees collected from ratepayers during the plant’s 60 years of operation.

The payments turned up during an NRC review of financial records and interviews with company officials between July 2021, when Holtec took over the plant, and June 2023.

Closing: Why Indian Point nuclear plant won't close until 2041

Where the $63,000 went

Among the organizations that received funding were a little league team, a girls softball team in the Town of Cortlandt, a fashion show at Hendrick Hudson High School, a golf outing and a parade.

“We take our responsibility as watchful stewards of the trust fund very seriously,” Holtec spokesman Patrick O’Brien said. “We are also deeply committed to our local communities we serve as part of the decommissioning process. It is in that spirit as a strong community partner that these charitable expenditures were made, as part of our regular community outreach and engagement activities. We take any violation very seriously and have already taken corrective actions to ensure the amount was restored to the trust fund, with interest, and that this issue does not recur with our future community and charitable contributions.”

Indian Point 3 and Indian Point 1 are pictured at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan March 28, 2023, as the site is undergoing decommissioning by Holtec Decommissioning International.

Indian Point 3 and Indian Point 1 are pictured at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan March 28, 2023, as the site is undergoing decommissioning by Holtec Decommissioning International.

The NRC also turned up an unspecified amount of decommissioning funds spent on lobbying New York state lawmakers, but chose not to issue a violation.

“The NRC determined that the lobbying efforts associated with keeping New York State legislators informed and educated about decommissioning issues at IPEC (Indian Point Energy Center) fall within the objectives in accordance with the definition of decommissioning...,” the NRC writes in a letter to Holtec president Kelly Trice.

Similarly, the NRC allowed Holtec to spend decommissioning funds for legal expenses associated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s spent fuel settlement efforts.

The DOE has agreed to pay the owners of nuclear power plants to store steel-and-cement canisters loaded with used nuclear fuel on their sites until an underground repository for the nation’s radioactive waste is built.

Critics: Indian Point shutdown was supposed to quiet anti-nuclear critics. Not a chance

More bad news for Holtec

This is the latest setback for Holtec, which last month agreed to pay New Jersey $5 million in penalties to avoid prosecution over alleged misstatements made on tax-credit applications linked to its Camden, N.J. manufacturing hub.

The tax credits for Holtec and a related real estate firm were valued at $1 million.

Spent fuel storage casks are pictured at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan March 28, 2023. The site is undergoing decommissioning by Holtec Decommissioning International.

Spent fuel storage casks are pictured at the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan March 28, 2023. The site is undergoing decommissioning by Holtec Decommissioning International.

Holtec denied wrongdoing, noting it agreed to settle the dispute “under threat of unfounded retaliatory criminal prosecution.”

And last year, the company sparred with environmental groups over its plan to discharge millions of gallons of radioactive water recovered from the plant’s spent fuel pools into the Hudson River.

Radiation: Hochul inks Indian Point bill but radiological waste debate rages on

In November, after Gov. Kathy Hochul sided with environmental groups by signing a law banning the release, Holtec said it would need more time to finish the teardown. Instead of demolishing the plant’s three reactors and other buildings on the 240-acre site by 2033, Holtec said it will need until 2041.

The radioactive water will remain on the site while Holtec weighs a legal challenge.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Indian Point owner Holtec used ratepayer funds for sports teams, golf

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Half-Life Histories

Video series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNg1m3Od-GgNmXngCCJaJBqqm-7wQqGAW​​​​​​​

A mini documentary series exploring nuclear weapons, technology, and disasters.

Here's Mary's Obituary

If you can’t open it, there will be a service on Friday, March 1at 1PM at the Neill Funeral Home, 3501 Derry Street, Harrisburg, with a visitation for friends and family at noon.

https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/name/mary-stamos-obituary?pid=206380450&utm_source=MarketingCloud&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ObitShare_PPNBlock_072023&utm_content=ViewObituary&sfmc_id=120533782&env=65e6fbcecefacb0401be97d25ab46307d5a5fb077002e37a657cea46e7b34375&et_rid=120533782​​​​​​​

Why NJ utility customers could soon get refunds | NJ Spotlight News

Feds step in and look to cover some costs of NJ nuclear plants

TOM JOHNSON, ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT WRITER | FEBRUARY 22, 2024 | ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

Financial assistance from Washington could result in refunds for utility customers


Credit: (Nuclear Regulatory Commission; CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Hope Creek generating station, Unit 1

Major federal assistance is starting to roll into New Jersey from the federal Inflation Reduction Act, a 2021 law signed by President Joe Biden designed in part to help usher in a clean-energy economy, with its impact soon to be felt by the energy sector and its customers. 

Portions of the federal law started to take effect this past January, helping trigger the Murphy administration’s order last week that New Jersey’s electric utilities stop charging customers a controversial surcharge costing $300 million a year, a step taken to avert closing of three nuclear power plants in the state. 

The state’s more than 3 million utility customers will continue to pay the charge for another 15 months. But they could also be looking at a hefty refund eventually from the owners of the three nuclear power plants in South Jersey, which provide more than one-third of the state’s electricity. 

The end of the surcharge, effective June 1, 2025, is a significant step, given the wave of increases ratepayers have absorbed in recent years as New Jersey tries to transition away from fossil fuels and fight climate change.  

Modernizing the power grid, electrifying the transportation sector, investing in solar energy and reducing energy consumption have all led to higher prices for consumers with no signs of letting up anytime soon, advocates have said. The federal aid might provide some relief. 

“That’s good news for ratepayers,’’ said state Sen. Bob Smith, a Democrat from Middlesex County who has sponsored many bills aimed at curbing emissions contributing to climate change, referring to the federal tax credits replacing the state surcharge. “It’s time to strengthen the grid.’’ 

Transition to green energy 

New Jersey’s plan to decarbonize the economy focuses on electrifying two large sectors that are the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions: transportation and buildings.  

The federal law, touted as the most ambitious climate legislation ever enacted, provides for $370 billion in investments to transition to clean energy. Among its provisions, it will provide lucrative production tax credits to the nation’s nuclear industry of approximately $30 billion. In New Jersey, its three operating nuclear units provide more than 90% of the state’s carbon-free electricity. 

Since 2019, utility ratepayers have been paying a surcharge on their monthly bills for the state’s nuclear power plants, a move that proponents argued was necessary to avert shutdown by their owners, Public Service Enterprise Group and Constellation Energy. 

At this point, neither the state Board of Public Utilities nor PSEG could say just how much the new tax credits will provide. The Internal Revenue Service issued draft guidance late last year, but it is too soon to say what its final form will be, according to a statement from the agency. 

End of ratepayer surcharge 

Since the state law creating the surcharge for the nuclear power plants stipulated any federal assistance would offset what ratepayers paid, PSEG and Constellation withdrew applications to renew the state surcharge for a new three-year cycle scheduled to begin in June 2025. 

Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor at Princeton University, believes the eventual refund for ratepayers could be large. With interest, it may approach $450 million. 

William Smith, strategic communications manager for PSEG, said the company is still awaiting guidance from the Treasury Department on the terms needed to calculate the tax credit. “We can’t speculate on possible refunds until there’s clarity on those terms,’’ Smith said. 

But others, including clean-energy advocates were elated.  

“This is a big win for New Jersey,’’ said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, calling the eventual replacement of the surcharge the biggest down payment the state has received yet from the federal government to fight climate change. 

Lyle Rawlings, a longtime solar developer in Flemington, described the $300 million annual nuclear surcharge as a significant part of consumers’ monthly bill.  

“That coming off frees up a lot,’’ he said. 

Raymond Cantor, deputy government affairs director for the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, said the tax credits will help lessen the cost of the state’s and nation’s aggressive clean-energy agenda, but other big bills remain in the future.  

“Still, the price tag on everything is astronomical and unknown,’’ Cantor said. 

NRC Names New Resident Inspector Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: I-24-003 February 22, 2024
CONTACT: Diane Screnci, 610-337-5330
Neil Sheehan, 610-337-5331

NRC Names New Resident Inspector Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Plant
 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has selected Alex Nugent as the resident inspector at the Beaver Valley nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pennsylvania. He joins Senior Resident Inspector Neil Day at the two-unit site, which is operated by Energy Harbor.
 
“Alex has the technical knowledge and experience to immediately contribute to the NRC’s oversight at Beaver Valley,” said NRC Region I Administrator Ray Lorson. “We welcome him as part of the NRC inspection team at the site.”
 
Nugent joined the NRC in April 2023 at the agency’s Region I Office in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. He began his career with the agency as a project engineer in the Division of Operating Reactors. He previously worked as a nuclear engineer at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
 
He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Delaware.
 
Each operating U.S. commercial nuclear power plant has at least two NRC resident inspectors who serve as the agency’s eyes and ears at the facility, conducting inspections, monitoring safety-significant projects and interacting with plant workers and the public. Resident inspectors can serve at a reactor site for up to seven years.

NRC Proposes to Amend Licensing, Inspection, and Annual Fees for Fiscal Year 2024

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 24-013 February 20, 2024
CONTACT: David McIntyre, 301-415-8200

NRC Proposes to Amend Licensing, Inspection, and Annual Fees for Fiscal Year 2024

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the licensing, inspection, special projects, and annual fees it will charge applicants and licensees for fiscal year 2024.

The proposed fee rule, published today in the Federal Register, is based on the FY 2024 Congressional Budget Justification as a full-year appropriation has not yet been enacted. The final rule will be based on the NRC’s actual appropriation, and the agency will update the final fee schedule as appropriate. The NRC’s proposed FY 2024 budget is approximately $1.01 billion. The agency would use $27.1 million in carryover funds, making the total budget authority used in the FY 2024 proposed fee rule $979.2 million, an increase of $52.1 million from FY 2023.

Under the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, the NRC is required to recover approximately 100 percent of its total budget authority in FY 2024, except funds for specific excluded activities.

After accounting for the exclusions from the fee recovery requirement and net billing adjustments, the NRC must recover approximately $825.7 million in fees in FY 2024. Of this amount, the NRC estimates that $205.5 million will be recovered through service fees under 10 CFR Part 170 and $620.2 million through annual fees under 10 CFR Part 171.

Compared to FY 2023, the proposed annual fees would decrease for the operating power reactors fee class. This fee does not exceed the cap established by NEIMA. The proposed annual fees would increase for fuel facilities, spent fuel storage/reactor decommissioning activities, non- power production or utilization facilities, transportation activities for the U.S. Department of Energy, the non-DOE uranium recovery licensee, the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Program, and all materials users fee categories.

The proposed fee rule includes several other changes affecting licensees and applicants. The NRC proposes to increase the hourly rate for services from $300 to $321 for FY 2024, and license application fees would be adjusted accordingly. In addition, the proposed rule would amend NRC’s payment methods to align with the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s “No-Cash No-Check” policy, to remove paper forms of payment and provide that payments be made electronically using the methods accepted at www.pay.gov.

The proposed rule includes detailed instructions on how to submit written comments. Comments will be accepted through March 21.

Friday, February 16, 2024

The Provincetown Independent: Holtec sued by state for exposing public to asbestos on multiple major incidents

EASTHAM: THIS WEEK'S CURRENTS
Vacancies in the Firehouse
Meetings Ahead
BY  

Most meetings are being held in person, but some are still remote or virtual. Go to eastham-ma.gov/calendar-by-event-type/16 and click on the meeting you are interested in to learn about meeting locations and any remote options that may be offered.

Thursday, Sept. 16

  • Affordable Housing Trust, 11 a.m., virtual
  • Housing Authority, 4 p.m., Small Meeting Room, Eastham Rec. Dept.
  • T-Time Committee Public Forum, 5 p.m., virtual

Monday, Sept. 20

  • Strategic Planning Committee, 3 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 21

  • Historical Commission workshop, 10:30 a.m., Public Library
  • Elementary School Committee, 4 p.m.
  • T-Time Development Committee, 5 p.m., Town Hall

Wednesday, Sept. 22

  • T-Time Committee Public Forum #2, 5 p.m., Salt Pond Visitor Center Amphitheater

Conversation Starters

Vacancies in the Firehouse

At the select board’s meeting this past Monday, Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe announced the retirement of Fire Chief Kent Farrenkopf. His retirement comes after nearly six years as Eastham chief and more than 37 years in total service. Beebe said she is heartbroken about the news and left his letter on her desk for two days before reading it. She called Farrenkopt a “very fine chief.”

Chief Farrenkopf will be replaced by Deputy Chief Dan Keene, who was hired in 2018.

The town now has three openings in the firehouse following two other recent resignations. Beebe said one of the departures was for personal reasons while another department employee is moving out of state.

Select board chair Arthur Autorino asked whether Beebe thought the search would be successful. “I’ve heard they’re very hard to fill, these openings,” he said. Beebe responded that it’s a difficult job and a “long haul” for anyone looking to become certified. Applicants must be certified EMTs or paramedics, complete the Entry Level Firefighter I and I certification, and attend the Mass. Fire Academy, according to the job description.

Assistant Town Administrator and Finance Director Rich Bienvenue called the openings a “long-term problem” affecting the entire town across departments. Select board member Jamie Demetri agreed, saying she felt the issue was larger than simply filling the positions in the present moment but rather that “people who work for the town can’t afford to live in the town.” —Cam Blair

New Jersey BPU pulls plug on unpopular nuclear subsidy

BPU pulls plug on unpopular nuclear subsidy
With Washington poised to pick up the annual $300M subsidy, residents and commercial customers will see smaller monthly electric bills


Credit: (peretzp via Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)
More on the nuclear subsidies


READ ALSO
Will feds cover some costs of keeping NJ’s nuclear plants open?


READ ALSO
Ratepayers remain on hook for nuclear subsidies — for now


READ ALSO
PSEG says without $300M ratepayer nuclear subsidy, it will close South Jersey plants

The Hope Creek nuclear power-generating plant in Salem County

An unpopular surcharge on every New Jersey utility customer’s monthly bill — amounting to $70 annually for the typical homeowner and much more for manufacturers — will end next year when the state eliminates a $300 million annual subsidy aimed to keep its three nuclear plants from closing. 



The state Board of Public Utilities on Wednesday adopted an order directing the utilities to stop collecting the surcharge, effective June 1, 2025. The subsidy, enacted in 2019 after a bitter legislative fight, has raised about a half-billion dollars thus far, for Public Service Enterprise Group and Constellation Energy, the owners of the units in South Jersey. 

The energy companies had submitted applications to the BPU to continue the surcharge for another three years but decided to withdraw from the process in late November. No one else applied for the subsidy, dubbed zero-emission certificates (ZECs), leading the agency to cancel a third round of any ratepayer-supported subsidies. 

Feds to pick up tab  

PSEG and Constellation are expected to replace the subsidy with federally funded production tax credits (PTCs) created by Congress and the Biden administration. In a statement, PSEG said while the rules from the U.S. Treasury Department still have not been issued, the company is confident that the PTC will proceed as intended and sufficiently support the nuclear generating units. 


The three nuclear plants — Salem I, Salem II, and Hope Creek — are an integral part of the Murphy administration’s clean-energy plan, providing 30% of the carbon-free electricity in the state. If they stopped operating, New Jersey would never achieve its aggressive goals of cutting carbon pollution by 80% below 2006 levels by 2050, according to state officials. 

‘This wasn’t needed. Now, with federal dollars kicking in, it should end sooner and give ratepayers a break.’ — Jeff Tittel, longtime environmental activist 

PSEG won the subsidies in 2019 after a long legislative battle that began during the Christie administration and was achieved early in Gov. Phil Murphy’s term. PSEG repeatedly threatened to close the plants, which employ more than 6,000 people, if state aid was not forthcoming.


In withdrawing their applications, the companies are counting on winning lucrative production tax credits from the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, a law passed by Congress in 2021. The tax credits are expected to be available sometime this year. 

Big bills for big businesses  

Currently, the surcharge amounts to roughly $70 a year for typical residential customers but can run as much as tens of thousands of dollars or much more for businesses that use a lot of energy. At the time the surcharge was adopted, at least six nuclear plants had shut down, unable to compete with cheaper sources of electricity, primarily natural gas. 

The surcharge was widely supported by major business groups and many prominent environmental organizations, primarily as nuclear was the largest source of zero-emission electricity at the time. 

Dennis Hart, executive director of the Chemistry Industry Council of New Jersey, noted manufacturers pay an added $78,000 to $586,000 because of the surcharge.

At the same time, the Division of Rate Counsel, an independent monitor for the regional power grid, and consumer advocates argued unsuccessfully that the plants were profitable and did not need any subsidy, a stance endorsed by a consultant hired by the BPU. The agency nevertheless approved an initial three-year subsidy, followed by a second one in 2021.

Jeff Tittel, a longtime environmental activist who was president of the state’s Sierra Club at the time, said the ZEC program should have never been approved.

“This wasn’t needed. Now, with federal dollars kicking in, it should end sooner and give ratepayers a break,’’ he said. 

The board had no comment on Wednesday in cancelling the third round of funding for ZECs.  

The right time for a rate reduction  

But the pending cut in utility bills is viewed by many as a positive step, given a series of rate increases approved by the agency as part of the clean-energy transition and push to modernize the power grid. 

‘It’s very good news,’’ said Brian Lipman, director of the Division of Rate Counsel a vocal critic of rising electric and gas bills. “For three years, this surcharge will fall off customers’ bills and hopefully will stay off.’’ 

In its order, the BPU left the door open for a fourth eligibility period to qualify for ZECs, beginning June 1, 2028 and ending May 31, 2031. “Who knows what happens three years from now? Who knows if the nuclear plants need subsidies or not?’’ asked Lipman. 

PSEG noted it would revisit the need for ZECs if federal support for the industry is insufficient. 

Dennis Hart, executive director of the Chemistry Industry Council of New Jersey, noted manufacturers pay an added $78,000 to $586,000 because of the surcharge. “These rates are unsustainable, and the reductions will go a long way towards maintaining the important jobs and economic benefits of manufacturing in New Jersey,’’ he said. 

Under state law, any money received from the federal government is to be used to offset the cost of the ratepayer surcharge, if both are awarded at the same time. There is $30 billion available under the federal production tax credit. 

Rich Henning, president of the New Jersey Utilities Association, said this is what many energy officials have been seeking for some time. “From a standpoint of customers, utilities and power companies, it is a win all the way around,’’ he said. 

“It highlights the federal support for nuclear power,’’ said Paul Patterson, an energy analyst at Glenrock Associates. 

In the meantime, energy rates continue to rise elsewhere. The BPU approved an $85 million increase in revenue for Jersey Central Power & Light, a step that will raise bills for its customers by an average of $4 a month per homeowner. In addition, New Jersey Natural Gas filed a $225 million rate petition with the BPU, which will, if approved, raise rates by $29 a month. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

PA House Archives - Three Mile Island Exhibit

Logo

Description automatically generatedThe PA House Archives is proud to open its 2024 exhibit, “Accident at Three Mile Island: Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ Response to Disaster,” with an official opening for Members, staff, and the public, on Wednesday, February 21st from 10:00 to 4:00. Light refreshments will be available.


March 2024 is the 45th anniversary of the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island. Visitors will learn about the events leading up to and following the accident, how local Representatives responded to constituents, and more about how the event has been remembered locally and nationally since 1979.


Featured items include documents from the special committee created by the House in the aftermath of the accident and clean up. Other displayed items are on loan from neighboring archival institutions (Dickinson College, Penn State Harrisburg, and Historical Society of Dauphin County) such as vinyl records, mugs, bumper stickers, and more!


The PA House Archives is in 628 Irvis Office Building, Capitol Complex.  The exhibit will be on display for the remainder of 2024.  We hope to see you there!


Jesse Teitelbaum | Director of Archives
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
628 Irvis Office Building | Harrisburg PA 17120

 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Federal money could supercharge state efforts to preserve nuclear power - Stateline

Federal money could supercharge state efforts to preserve nuclear power

A plant in Michigan might become the first to reopen after closing.

BY:  - FEBRUARY 12, 2024 5:00 AM
A nuclear plant on Lake Michigan.
The Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan will reportedly be awarded a $1.5 billion federal loan, aimed at restarting operations after a 2022 closure. The federal funding could bolster state efforts to keep nuclear power on the grid, as leaders seek to transition to carbon-free electricity. Courtesy of The Herald-Palladium

In the coming years, a nuclear power plant on the shores of Lake Michigan could become the first in the country to restart operations after shutting down.

The Palisades plant in southwest Michigan could be revived by a $1.5 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, Bloomberg reported. Federal officials have not yet confirmed the funding, but Dr. Kathryn Huff, assistant secretary in the agency’s Office of Nuclear Energy, told Stateline that it would be “exciting” and “historic” to see the plant return to life.

The potential federal investment comes as state leaders in Michigan and elsewhere have worked to preserve their nuclear power capacity. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer successfully pushed for $150 million in state funding last year to support the Palisades restart. The plant is owned by Florida-based Holtec International, which bought it in 2022 to decommission it.

Reviving the plant “is really significant to make sure we can meet our clean-energy goals,” said Kara Cook, chief of staff with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. “This is really important to us not only from a climate perspective, but also the economic impact on the region.”

As states seek to transition to carbon-free electricity, some leaders acknowledge their climate change goals may be out of reach if they can’t keep their nuclear plants online. Nuclear has struggled to compete on cost with other power sources — while also facing concerns about safety risks and radioactive waste — but it provides 18% of the nation’s electricity. The closure of nuclear plants, some state officials fear, could lead to an expansion of fossil fuel-powered replacements, worsening the climate problem.


“You’re starting to see a lot of states transition to a position where they’re supportive of nuclear,” said Todd Allen, chair of the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences department at the University of Michigan. “And compared to 30 years ago, the amount of federal support for nuclear is unbelievable.”

California also received a boost of federal money in an award finalized last month to keep open a nuclear plant run by Pacific Gas and Electric, known as PG&E. Other states, including Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey, have passed legislation in recent years to provide subsidies for existing nuclear plants.

Huff, the federal energy official, said U.S. nuclear production may need to reach 200 gigawatts — roughly double the current capacity — to provide clean, “always-on” power as less-constant solar and wind provide a growing share of the nation’s electricity. Last year, the Biden administration committed to an international pledge to triple nuclear capacity by 2050.

“We’re still going to need a significant amount of nuclear to back that all up,” she told Stateline. “Keeping existing plants online is the easiest way to ensure nuclear power can back up renewables.”

Meanwhile, both red and blue states have taken steps to allow for the development of small modular reactors, an emerging technology that backers say can help to power rural areas or industrial operations without the demands of a large plant. Six states — Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Montana, West Virginia and Wisconsin — recently repealed bans on adding new nuclear power, in part to enable such reactors.

You’re starting to see a lot of states transition to a position where they’re supportive of nuclear.

– Todd Allen, chair of the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences department at the University of Michigan

While some environmental groups have embraced the nuclear investments, others have pointed to long-standing concerns about safety issues, citing infamous accidents such as those at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Opponents also note the long-term issue of radioactive waste storage, and in some cases assert that nuclear can stall the growth of renewables such as wind and solar.

“With the amount of money that’s gone into this [Palisades] restart scheme already, you could develop brand-new renewable energy proposals that would be online in the same time frame producing more electricity,” said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste specialist at Beyond Nuclear, an environmental nonprofit that opposes nuclear energy.

While more states have passed policies to give nuclear a boost, federal funding in Michigan and elsewhere could supercharge efforts to ensure plants stay open. The Department of Energy is distributing $6 billion from the federal infrastructure law to help save reactors that were slated for closure. The agency awarded funding to the California plant in the first round but has not yet announced awardees from the second round, although applications closed last May.

The agency also is overseeing a loan program — which reportedly will provide the Palisades funding — to repower or repurpose energy infrastructure.

The Department of Energy is distributing $6 billion to help save reactors that were slated for closure.

The federal climate law passed in 2022 also opened tax credits for new and existing nuclear plants, designed to incentivize clean energy production in the same way existing credits support wind and solar. Since the passage of the tax credits, Huff said, federal regulators have seen an increased interest from plant operators pursuing license renewals to extend the operating life of their reactors.

Meanwhile, the CHIPS and Science Act passed by Congress also includes funding for federal nuclear research, university programs, new research reactors, isotope production and advanced reactors.

The federal support is providing “huge stimulation” to nuclear power while working in tandem with existing state efforts, said Christine Csizmadia, senior director of state governmental affairs and advocacy with the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade association.

Michigan reboot

When Palisades closed amid financial struggles in 2022, it represented roughly 5% of Michigan’s electricity supply. That has been replaced largely with natural gas generation, Cook said. The expansion of fossil fuel-based power conflicts with legislation passed last year requiring the state to move to 100% clean energy by 2040.

So when the plant’s new owner, Holtec International, announced that it was aiming to bringing the 800-megawatt plant back online, state leaders were on board. The company plans to add a pair of small modular reactors to the existing plant, bringing its capacity to 1,400 megawatts — enough to power more than a million homes. Holtec did not respond to interview requests, but company spokesperson Nick Culp told Reuters the company expects the plant to have full power operation by the end of 2025.

The $150 million in last year’s Michigan state budget to support the plant’s restart will help pay for fuel purchases and infrastructure upgrades, Cook said. Whitmer has requested an additional $150 million in this year’s budget to help bring Palisades online.

“This is really an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Cook, citing the hundreds of union jobs that could return to the region if the plant reopens. She said the state funding was critical to show both Holtec and federal officials that there was strong support in Michigan to save Palisades. Holtec has said it could employ about 520 people at the plant.

States’ support

In recent years, many states have provided financial support to struggling nuclear plants, made nuclear eligible for clean energy credits or repealed long-standing bans on the construction of new reactors.

“We’ve seen this incredible uptick of nuclear energy legislation,” said Csizmadia, with the nuclear trade association.

Huff, the federal official, noted that several of the states that recently repealed bans on new nuclear power have many coal-dependent communities that could be “left behind” if their coal plants retire. Backers of nuclear, especially the emerging small modular reactor technology, believe old coal plants could be revived to put existing infrastructure to use in service of nuclear power and bring back high-wage jobs.

Nuclear electricity production across the country has been relatively stagnant for two decades, with plants struggling to compete with lower-cost options such as natural gas. Construction of new reactors has almost completely stopped amid regulatory hurdles and spiking project costs.

Opponents of nuclear point to the canceled projects, delays and cost overruns as proof that nuclear isn’t viable.

“This is just throwing good money after bad,” said Kamps, the anti-nuclear advocate. “We stand horrified at the actions being taken by Congress and certain state governments.”

Kamps also cited previous nuclear disasters and warned of the risks of extending aging plants.

But as states look to clean up their energy grids, some leaders say they can’t afford to lose their nuclear power.

“A lot of people believe we can power California with renewables alone and batteries,” said Carl Wurtz, executive director of Fission Transition, a pro-nuclear advocacy group. “We’re going to be tied to natural gas indefinitely if we try to do it that way.”

Wurtz was among the advocates who pushed California to extend the life of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which had been scheduled to close in 2025. He and others argued that the loss of the plant’s 2,240 megawatts — 9% of California’s electricity — would force the state to import more power generated from fossil fuels.

As with the Michigan plant, state leaders in California, including Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, successfully lobbied the feds for money to keep Diablo Canyon open. Last month, the Department of Energy finalized a $1.1 billion payout to extend the plant’s operations. That followed a vote from state regulators to push the plant’s shutdown date back to 2030.

Supporters of nuclear say it’s a necessary complement to wind and solar because of the reliability it provides.

“We need baseload power that runs 24/7,” said Lisa Marshall, vice president of the American Nuclear Society and assistant extension professor with the North Carolina State University Department of Nuclear Engineering. “If we’re going to make [carbon-free electricity] happen, nuclear has to be part of that mix.”

The California plant is still awaiting the renewal of its license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. PG&E did not respond to an interview request.