[ RadSafe ] Nuclear News - Critics oppose Georgia Power's nuclear plan

Perle, Sandy sperle at mirion.com
Mon Jan 12 16:52:12 CST 2009

Note: It's been a long time since I've posted a nuclear news
distribution. These postings will be much less frequent in the future.




Critics oppose Georgia Power's nuclear plan

EU to hear Slovakia on nuclear plant restart

Gas crisis, a PR coup for French nuclear industry

Nuclear only a distant solution for S.Africa

Entergy ends plan to build nuclear plants with GE Hitachi

Nuclear renaissance faces a big challenge

Investors Avoid the Nuclear Option

Editorial: Nuclear Plant Fine, nodding off

Analysts tip GDF Suez for 2nd French EPR contract

India requires Rs.1.5 lakh crore for meeting nuclear power targets



Critics oppose Georgia Power's nuclear plan 


ATLANTA, GA -(2009-01-12) Today, groups united in their opposition to
Georgia Power's plan for two nuclear reactors lobbied the state to deny
the company's request.


Georgia Power wants to build two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle; its
nuclear facility near Augusta. Company officials argue the reactors will
provide a clean way to meet growing demand for electricity. 


Before construction can begin, the Georgia Public Service Commission has
to OK the company's plan, which calls for Georgia Power customers to
foot the bill. However, critics, like Krista Brewer of Georgia WAND, say
that's unusual.


Brewer: "That it's always been a policy that we ratepayers do not pay
for construction work in progress. You wait until you're actually
getting a benefit."


There won't be a financial benefit for customers if Georgia Power waits
to raise rates according to company spokesperson Lynn Wallace.


Wallace: "The whole idea is that it will save ratepayers money over the
long term."


Wallace says your power bill on average would be 30 dollars higher a
year if the company waited for construction to be complete. The
Commission votes in March. If approved rates, wouldn't jump until 2011.


However, cost is just one issue for critics. They fear approval of the
reactors will result in Georgia having the nation's largest
concentration of radioactive material.



EU to hear Slovakia on nuclear plant restart


BRUSSELS, Jan 12 (Reuters) - The European Commission will listen to the
arguments of Slovakia on the need to restart the country's Bohunice
nuclear power plant and then assess the situation, the European Union
executive said on Monday.


Slovakia is seeking alternative energy sources after a dispute between
Russia and Ukraine has cut the amount of gas supplies to Europe.
Slovakia had agreed to close the Bohunice plant as part of its EU
accession agreement.


"The (Energy) Commissioner (Andris Piebalgs) will hear the Slovak
authorities' explanation and in the light of the explanation ... he will
assess the situation," Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said.



Gas crisis, a PR coup for French nuclear industry


PARIS, Jan 12 (Reuters) - France's vast nuclear power network has
largely shielded it from the Russian gas crisis, handing the country's
atomic energy sector an unexpected public relations coup.

With 80 percent of its electricity generated by nuclear power stations,
the highest proportion in the world, France was able to reassure nervous
households and industry after the Russia-Ukraine dispute cut off gas
supplies to Europe.

The gas crisis coincided with exceptionally cold weather in France,
testing its power system to the limit as households turned up their
heaters to maximum.


"The French must be delighted that the country didn't bet only on gas
when we see what is happening with the gas (crisis)," EDF's Chief
Executive Pierre Gadonneix said on French radio last week.


France has been a staunch advocate of nuclear power since the 1970s oil
crisis which led it to build up Europe's largest network of 58 reactors.

State-owned electricity giant EDF is now marketing this savoir-faire
(expertise) worldwide, as demonstrated by high-profile moves into
Britain and the United States over the past few months.


France hopes to lead a global renaissance of atomic power as countries
seek to fight global warming -- nuclear is virtually carbon dioxide free
-- and aim to boost their energy independence.


China, South Africa and Italy are the next targets for EDF, which has
said it wants to finance, build and operate European-designed
new-generation reactors across the globe.




"The Russian-Ukraine gas crisis is a strong new selling point for the
French nuclear industry," said Jean-Marie Chevalier, head of the
geopolitical energy centre at Paris Dauphine University.

"The crisis will allow the French nuclear sector to alert countries such
as Germany or Italy, which are highly dependent on gas, of an energy
landscape full of uncertainty," he said.


German decision makers, who are faithful energy partners with Russia,
are now likely to present more independent scenarios, including a review
of plans to shut nuclear reactors.


"When you see upcoming European projects, 58 percent of them are fossil
fuel-based power plants, including 40 percent which are gas-fired plant
projects," said Colette Lewiner, head of utilities at French consultancy
firm Capgemini.

"This will only increase Europe's dependency on Russian gas," she said,
adding that Europe should on the contrary be raising its share of




While its neighbours may be forced to study ways of cutting their
dependency on Russian gas, France must prepare to increase its imports,
as it builds new fossil fuel-fired power plants to better cope with
demand during peak times.

But France imports just 15 percent of its gas needs from Russia, and
thanks to its diverse supply sources, this low level of exposure should
be maintained.


French energy demand broke new records last week as domestic heating
demand soared, testing national peak supply capacity to the limit.

EDF, which last week warned power cuts might occur in remote parts of
the grid, created new peakload capacity of 3,100 megawatts over the last
three years and says a further 1,900 MW is needed by 2012, equivalent to
two nuclear reactors.

The insufficient slack in the French power system meant last week's
surge in demand required heavy imports of electricity from Germany's gas
and coal-fired plant network.


"The current energy trend is for diversification and I tend to believe
that France is too dependent on nuclear energy," Chevalier added.

"For peak needs, nuclear is not a solution because it's not economical
to use atomic power for just a few days per year," Capgemini's Lewiner



Nuclear only a distant solution for S.Africa


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa expects its next nuclear power
plant to come on stream by 2019, two years later than initially planned
by utility Eskom, which has dropped plans to build the facility due to
financial woes.


While Eskom was hoping nuclear energy would supply one quarter or 20,000
megawatts (MW) of South Africa's expanded generating capacity by 2025,
the government says a target of 6,000 MW in the same period is more


Africa's biggest economy, which has been battling a power shortage, will
have to keep reverting to more coal to supply its growing demand in the


"We appreciate what Eskom had as a plan, but we need to be practical and
see what can be done in that time -- 6,000 MW seems much more feasible,"
said Nelisiwe Magubane, the deputy director general at the Department of
Minerals and Energy.


Eskom operates Africa's sole nuclear power plant, Koeberg, with a total
capacity of 1,800 megawatts. Magubane said an additional 3,200 MW of the
planned 6,000 MW is due in 2019.


The government, which took over after Eskom bowed out, said the two-year
delay was needed to properly initiate the process.


Some experts say the government could have helped Eskom raise funding
for the nuclear project through debt guarantees.


But Mugabane said the government wanted to launch a process that
differed from the utility's one-time proposal to ensure it could build
up the fleet over time.


South Africa would approach various countries which have made nuclear
part of their energy mix to copy their models. These include France, the
United Kingdom, the United States, South Korea and Russia.


Nuclear is a major part of South Africa's energy diversification plan to
reduce its heavy reliance on coal, which now supplies the lion's share
of its electricity.




The government would revise its nuclear plans taking into account the
economic slowdown, but the decision to expand South Africa's nuclear
supply was not based on choice, Magubane said.


"In the next 20 years we need to decommission quite a number of coal
fire power plants, so we need to have a plan on what it would be that
would replace that ageing fleet," she said.


"So it's not a question of whether we can afford it or not ... it's a
fact that we will be needing that."


But the cost, coupled with the long lead time of some 7-10 years to
build a new nuclear plant means the country will have to pump up its
coal production in the meantime, even though that will harm its ambition
to reduce the country's carbon footprint.


South Africa's progress on renewable energies has also been slow,
hindered by financial constraints and the limited amount of energy they


Eskom recently committed to building 50 wind turbines, which would
provide 2 MW of power each, but critics say this lacks economic
viability to raise supply and reduce emissions.



Entergy ends plan to build nuclear plants with GE Hitachi

NEI SmartBrief | 01/12/2009


A plan to develop two nuclear plants has gone in a new direction.
Entergy, which hoped to build the plants, said it could not reach an
agreement with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. Entergy will consider
alternate nuclear technology for new reactors in Mississippi and



Nuclear renaissance faces a big challenge


January 12, 2009 


SUBJECT: The outlook for nuclear power.


SIGNIFICANCE: Increases in the cost of borrowing and the availability of
credit represent a major challenge for the nuclear industry.


ANALYSIS: A so-called nuclear renaissance has been under way for some
years now. It has taken three broad forms, namely: the predominantly
state-led and financed continuation of nuclear construction in countries
with an existing industry, such as South Korea, China, India and Russia;
renewed support for nuclear power in countries that have existing
industries but that have not seen any newbuild in decades, the most
notable in this regard being the United Kingdom and United States; and a
host of potential newcomers to the nuclear market, the most substantial
groups being emerging economies in Asia and the Middle East.


However, in practice, outside countries where nuclear is
state-subsidized and driven by government-set targets, new nuclear is
making little progress, despite increasingly supportive policy
environments. Moreover, the financial crisis is having various impacts
on the industry, the most critical of which is likely to be the
increased cost of capital.


Nuclear finance. Increased borrowing costs are likely to more than
outweigh the impact of the decline in basic commodity prices. Even if
central bank rates have fallen, the cost of project finance has not. For
project financiers working in energy, wind, solar or natural gas-fired
plants, remain much safer investments than nuclear. Smaller-scale
projects also suit the current conservatism in project lending.


On the other hand, governments, faced with recession, are committing
themselves to a huge range of public spending initiatives, and promotion
of so-called 'green jobs', which are undermining previous commitments
not to engage in forms of state aid. A lack of bank lending is also
pushing borrowers towards state banks, export-import banks and
multilaterals. Both these trends could benefit nuclear, as governments
become more amenable to providing the cheap finance that new nuclear
requires. As such, the financial crisis may increase the chances of
state support for new nuclear.


Construction costs. Materials costs are likely to fall, which would
benefit overall construction costs and the amount of capital needed,
serving to mitigate the upward spiral evident in recent cost estimates
for nuclear newbuild. For example, a nuclear plant uses about three
times more steel in its construction per mega-watt installed than a coal
plant. However, the supply chain for nuclear plants will remain tight,
both in terms of an aging work force and limited manufacturing capacity,
with some severe bottlenecks in areas such as ultra heavy forgings and
steam generation tubing.


Of the five new reactors being offered to western markets, only one -
Toshiba's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor - has a track record of
construction, while Areva's European Pressurized Water Reactor and
Mitsubishi's Advanced Pressure Water Reactor are under construction.
Westinghouse's AP1000 and GE-Hitachi's Economic Simplified Boiling Water
Reactor both employ passive safety mechanisms that have not yet been
incorporated in a nuclear plant anywhere, thus providing an additional
layer of 'first-of-a-kind' technological risk, though they promise lower
costs over the reactor's full life.


New demand outlook. Projections for increases in power demand are being
revised in the light of an expected severe recession in the OECD and
slower growth among developing countries. Power demand may contract in
some OECD economies in 2009, and there is already evidence, for example,
in Spain and the Netherlands, that this might indeed be the case.


In the OECD, the impact of lower energy prices should not affect new
nuclear given little newbuild is expected to be commissioned before 2017
at the earliest. The long-term outlook remains one in which energy
demand continues to grow. Among developing economies, the pace of power
demand growth should negate the risk of insufficient demand upon


However, nuclear plants are price takers in electricity markets, as they
have to run at as near to full capacity as possible. This means that
even when the wholesale price of electricity falls below their cost of
production - which is largely set by construction cost and financing
terms - they continue to produce at a loss. Should existing nuclear
installations find themselves in this situation as economic activity
slackens, it will again highlight a risk that has previously sent
nuclear operators to the wall, and will dampen any enthusiasm for new
investment in the industry.


Solid drivers. Nevertheless, the nuclear renaissance is based on solid
foundations: Nuclear is a proven low-carbon technology. Concern over
greenhouse gas emissions has been a major factor behind the revival of
interest in nuclear. Although considerable concern remains about the
long-term storage of radioactive waste, the gain in terms of low
emissions has dampened environmental and public opposition to the


Nuclear is seen as improving a country's security of supply, which may
be attractive given the current gas crisis in Europe. It provides an
alternative to traditional hydrocarbon imports, but it is usually still
dependent on an externally-supplied fuel. For many countries, nuclear
represents primarily a diversification of the energy mix, which reduces
dependence on the hydrocarbon complex.


Nuclear delivers large-scale baseload power to national grids, making it
attractive to countries with large expected increases in electricity
demand, such as China and India. It also offers the possibility of
developing a lucrative export industry, through the export of plants to
countries without the capacity to build them.


As a result of these factors, the European Commission, International
Energy Agency and governments in many parts of the world have accepted
the need for nuclear power stations as an essential part of the policy
mix capable of delivering a low carbon power-generating sector. Not
least is the fact that as older nuclear units reach the end of their
lives, there is a need to replace their generation capacity. Emissions
targets being set by the EU and other countries fall particularly hard
on the power sector and are already challenging. Phasing out a major
low-carbon power source at the same time as trying to meet emissions
targets appears to be illogical.


Eastern growth. Nevertheless, the main new nuclear building programs are
taking place in China, Russian and India - all countries where the
government has mandated targets and is building new units through
state-owned companies. In addition, South Korea and Japan, which are
already heavily dependent on both nuclear power and imported fuels, have
major construction programs. In South Korea, all of the country's
nuclear reactors are owned by a subsidiary of the state-owned Korea
Electric Power Corporation. By contrast, only two nuclear plants are
under construction in Western Europe and none in the United States.


It would appear that the risks associated with new nuclear in
liberalized, or liberalizing, markets are too high to attract capital at
a price that makes new nuclear viable. Without additional state support,
new nuclear will have to be built from existing utility revenue streams,
which in some cases could damage credit ratings.


CONCLUSION: Meeting both emissions and supply security goals will be
difficult, if not impossible, if an established low-carbon base-load
technology like nuclear is ignored. However, newbuild does not look
viable in current market conditions. State support is needed and may be
more forthcoming from governments faced with recession.


>From the Oxford Analytica Daily Brief 



Investors Avoid the Nuclear Option 


DESPITE A BULLISH STORY in Barron's, shares of Entergy and Exelon
(tickers: ETR, EXC) were down 3% and 1.2%, respectively, in midday
trading Monday, bowing to the overall market slide.


In "The Blossoming of Nuclear Power," Barron's Senior Editor Robin
Goldwyn Blumenthal wrote that the companies will likely experience a
renaissance as the U.S. works toward reducing its carbon footprint under
President-Elect Barack Obama.


(Nuclear plants are the biggest producers of energy that doesn't emit
any greenhouse gases.)


Exelon, the biggest nuclear-power generator in the U.S., is called a
"bond proxy" by some analysts for its dividend yield of nearly 5%, and
enjoys a positive relationship with regulators.


Likewise, Entergy's CEO, who was able to breathe new life into the
faltering company when he joined 10 years ago, says Entergy delivered
the highest total shareholder return -- 414.3% -- of any company in its
industry for the nine years ended Dec. 31, 2007.


And, Blumenthal notes, nuclear power's 35-year track record has
convinced many people who were formerly skeptical of it as a viable
energy source. 



Editorial: Nuclear Plant Fine, nodding off


Philadelphia Inquiree, January 12 - A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
decision last week is another blow to efforts to build greater public
trust in nuclear power as an alternative to the nation's expensive
appetite for foreign oil.

The NRC proposed a paltry $65,000 fine against the owner of Peach Bottom
nuclear plant, where investigators found that security guards routinely
napped on the job. The NRC last year issued a color-coded "white"
finding - a low-to-moderate safety violation - for the incident. 


The agency's actions seem more like a slap on the wrist for
Chicago-based Exelon, rather than a strong message about safety and
accountability. Exelon says it plans to pay the fine for the NRC's
findings, which were confirmed by its internal investigation at the York
County nuclear power facility.


It took the utility and its regulators more than a year to reach this
disappointing conclusion to what should have been an open-and-shut case,
with indisputable evidence.


The investigations were launched in September 2007, but only after a
videotape of the sleeping guards had surfaced. After receiving a tip in
a letter from a former employee at the nuclear plant, the NRC allowed
Exelon to do its own investigation of the allegations. Talk about the
fox guarding the hen house!


It came as no surprise that Exelon initially found no evidence of guards
napping. That quickly changed when the video became public.


Exelon took the unusual step of announcing its inquiry before regulators
took any action, but it disclosed only that it was investigating reports
that its guards were "inattentive" to their duties. 


That must be code language for sleeping, far different from the less
serious daydreaming or distracted state suggested by "inattentive."


And it gets worse. Several guards were found sleeping on more than one
occasion in a plant "ready room" that served as a break room. 


Plant supervisors were not informed about the incidents, according to
the NRC. There were missed opportunities as well to identify the
behavior earlier.


At a Senate committee hearing in February, company officials tried to
downplay the risk posed by the dozing guards. They said the guards were
not at a guard post but were in a staging area where they were supposed
to be ready to assist in the event of an incident.


The thought of trying to rouse sleeping guards to respond to an
emergency is not reassuring, especially in the post-9/11 era.


Exelon did fire the Wackenhut Corp. as its provider of security guards
at Peach Bottom and its other plants and reactors in Pennsylvania, New
Jersey and Illinois, and replaced it with an in-house security detail.


But a justified fear of nuclear accidents has been an obstacle to
greater reliance on nuclear power in this nation. If that is to change,
the NRC must issue stiffer sanctions even in response to low-level



Natural gas cutback leads Italy to eye nuclear power


NEI SmartBrief - Italy must diversify its energy supply and nuclear
energy is its first option, says the country's economic development
minister, Claudio Scajola. Italy's need for diversification was
underscored by the disruption of the natural gas supply when a
Russian-Ukranian dispute led Gazprom to cut Europe's supply. Scajola
said Italy is trying to find alternative suppliers but "in any case we
cannot but think about the future and diversify our sources with the
return to nuclear power."



Analysts tip GDF Suez for 2nd French EPR contract


* Analysts say GDF Suez well-placed for second French EPR.


* EDF still keen to protect its nuclear sector position.


PARIS, Jan 12 (Reuters) - French energy and utilities group GDF Suez
(GSZ.PA) is well-placed to win a deal to build and operate France's
second state-of-the-art EPR nuclear reactor, analysts said.


"It is clear that GDF Suez is the best placed company for the second
EPR. It will provide a nuclear alternative to EDF," said CM-CIC
Securities analyst Patrice Lambert de Diesbach.


GDF Suez has said it would decide at the start of this year whether or
not to put in a bid for the EPR contract, estimated to cost in the
region of 4 billion euros ($5.36 billion).


EDF (EDF.PA), France's main electricity provider, is also a candidate
for the reactor.


For EDF, the technology behind EPR plants is a key part of its expansion
plans following last year's acquisition of British Energy (BGY.L) and
around half of the nuclear power business of Constellation Energy


However, Exane BNP Paribas analyst Benjamin Leyre said giving the
contract to GDF Suez would allow the French government to introduce more
competition in the sector.


"Both EDF and GDF Suez have their respective political support but
giving the second EPR to GDF Suez would allow France to thwart any
criticism from the European Commission of allowing a monopoly in that
sector," he said.


GDF Suez, French oil major Total (TOTF.PA) and nuclear reactor maker
Areva (CEPFi.PA) have submitted a proposal to develop two EPR reactors
in the United Arab Emirates, and Leyre said such bids would be helped if
GDF Suez won the French EPR contract.


"For GDF Suez, it would be a confidence boost. They already know how to
run nuclear facilities, and their strong balance sheet would allow them
to finance the investment. These two factors would help them win more
overseas deals," said Leyre.


GDF Suez shares were down 1.3 percent at 32.76 euros in late afternoon
trade. The stock has fallen around 7 percent since the start of 2009,
having lost 12 percent in value last year.



India requires Rs.1.5 lakh crore for meeting nuclear power targets


NEW DELHI: India will have to invest Rs.1.5 trillion in nuclear power
plants if it is to meet an ambitious target of generating 63,000 mega

(MW) from nuclear power by the year 2020, a leading parliamentarian said


"India would require Rs.1.5 lakh crore (Rs.1.5 trillion) if we are to
meet the target of generating 63,000 MW using nuclear power. This is
possible only through the public private partnership route," said
Abhishek M. Singhvi, member of parliament and chairman, India-US Forum
of Parliamentarians. 


"This requires amendment to the Atomic Energy Act and new legislation
like the Liability Act," he said while addressing a US delegation of
civil nuclear power companies which is here to expedite talks with the
government and understand policy issues. 


India's nuclear programme is worth $160 billion in nuclear technology
and components. 


"The Indian government needs to operationalise many protocols
expeditiously, so that private companies from the two countries can step
in," said Steve Hucik, general manager of GE-Hitachi Nuclear and leader
of the US delegation.  



Sander C. Perle 


Mirion Technologies

Dosimetry Services Division 

2652 McGaw Avenue

Irvine, CA 92614


+1 (949) 296-2306 (Office)

+1 (949) 296-1144 (Fax)


Mirion Technologies: http://www.mirion.com/ 





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