Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Diablo Canyon and What To Do About It

Rally for Diablo Canyon
Mothers for Nuclear,, Californians for Green Nuclear Power and others
June 17, 2016
San Luis Obispo
Photo from Californians for Green Nuclear Power
The Announcement and What To Do

Today, PG&E announced that it would not apply for a license renewal for Diablo Canyon, but would close the plant by 2025. The New York Times article this morning: California's Last Nuclear Power Plant Could Close.

 IF this agreement goes through, Diablo Canyon will stay open for another eight years before it closes.  Eight years is not tomorrow. This is not the time to despair and scuttle the ship.  Now is the time to take action! There are things we can do to help our nuclear plants survive.

Right now, we can do two things:  Sign a Petition and Make a Donation. I have done both.

Sign a Petition to the White House

A petition to the White House requests that the special benefits of nuclear power be recognized by federal government policy. The petition has 13,000 signatures, and needs 100,000 to get a response from the White House.  Sign it here to Keep America's Nuclear Power Plants Working for US!

Please sign it and circulate it!

Make A Donation to the March for Environmental Hope

California pro-nuclear groups are marching from San Francisco and Oakland to Sacramento,  in the March for Environmental Hope.  They will publicize the importance of nuclear power for California, and they will attend a meeting of the California Lands Commission. The Commission will be holding a crucial vote about Diablo Canyon.

The March is sponsored by Mothers for Nuclear, Save Diablo Canyon, and Environmental Progress.  Other groups will be marching with them: Californians for Green Nuclear Power and Thorium Energy Alliance.  

The marchers in California are doing this for all of us, for everyone who believes in nuclear energy as the safe, clean energy of the future.  Help them!  You can donate here, and help pay campground fees and so forth for the marchers.

 Commentary

Three excellent articles, worth reading:

Rod Adams at Forbes: NRDC Announces PG&E Has Agreed to Kill Diablo Canyon
James Conca at Forbes: Pro-Nuclear March In San Francisco to Protest Closing of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant
Michael Shellenberger at Environmental Progress: Why Diablo Canyon Will Live--and Why the Corrupt PGE-IBEW-NRDC Proposal Will Fail

And, just for fun, to see some of the stakes in this particular case, from the San Diego Times Tribune yesterday: Heat wave raises worries about power outages. To quote the article:

Rotating outages result when utilities, largely due to gas issues, don't have enough supply to meet demand.
"We would tell the utilities to turn off the power to a substation...until.... we can go back to balancing supply and demand in real time," Greenlee (of California ISO) said.
Outages can last from 30 to 90 minutes.
But Greenlee said as of Monday afternoon, the system was holding up.

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In other words:

Sign!
Donate!



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New England Grid Operator Meeting This Friday

The purpose of the Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) is to be the voice of the electricity consumer in advising the grid operator, ISO-NE.  As the annual report states: The Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) is a forum for sharing information between ISO New England (ISO) and those who ultimately use and pay for electricity in New England.

The next meeting of the Consumer Liaison Group will be the day after tomorrow: Friday June 17 at the Double Tree Hotel in Westborough MA. The topic is grid security from the consumer point of view.  ( I am on the Coordinating Committee for the CLG. )

CLG meetings are free, but you should register in advance if you want lunch.  Here's the information.  However, since the picture is merely a screen shot,  I supply the relevant links below the picture.  I hope to see some of you there.



Double Tree Westborough

CLG web page

Register

Mary Louise "Weezie" Nuara mnuara@iso-ne.com


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Nuclear Blogger Carnival #313: Here at Yes Vermont Yankee

Once again, we are proud to host the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers, right here at Yes Vermont Yankee. The Carnival is a compendium of nuclear blogs that rotates from blog site to blog site, and it is always a pleasure and an honor to host it.

Economics

At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus discusses “Too Cheap to Meter” and the continued speculation about what Lewis Strauss might have meant when he uttered those words 62 years ago. Her post links to the speech itself.  (These words were part of a set of hopes for an abundant future; they were not a price prediction.)   

At the MZConsulting blog  Milt Caplan discusses the need for long-term investment  which is not met by today's "deregulated" markets.  In these markets, natural gas is the price maker, and all other plants are price takers. However, some types of not-natural-gas plants plants are subsidized.  This market system is broken, and the effects on existing and new infrastructure may be severe.

It might seem that this article follows directly from the previous article about prices in the United States.  Instead, this one is about Japan: A report based on a dialogue between Edward Kee and Prof. Takeo Kikkawa during the April 2016 Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) Annual Conference in Tokyo. The JAIF event covered topics related to the way nuclear power will fit into the Japanese electricity industry as deregulation and electricity markets are implemented. 

At Neutron Bytes, Dan Yurman notes that the deal won’t go very far unless some major challenges are overcome.

Clean Energy

At Forbes, James Conca reports on news from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  This year, TVA took significant actions that will move the country forward on what many think is the best energy mix for the future – nuclear and solar. This month alone, TVA started their latest solar power program, submitted the first-ever permit application to the NRC for a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR), and their Watts Bar 2 Nuclear Generating Station became the first new nuclear power plant in the U.S. in this century to reach criticality.

At Yes Vermont Yankee,  I share two videos from the World Nuclear Association. These short, accurate videos share a positive message on the role of nuclear energy. The first one is Nuclear Energy Leaves More Space for Nature, and the second is Nuclear Energy Helps Solve the Climate Puzzle.  Enjoy and share these one-minute videos.

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Positive Message: Pro-Nuclear Videos from World Nuclear Association

Recently, the World Nuclear Association made two pro-nuclear videos which are short, accurate, and charming.  Each one-minute video sends a clear message about the importance of nuclear energy for the future of the world.

These videos support the positive vision of the role of nuclear energy.  In two minutes, these videos show the reasons that most of us prefer nuclear energy to fossil fuels.

World Nuclear Association recently started a website nuclearfootprints.org. The site includes a public declaration in favor of nuclear.  You can sign the declaration here.

Enjoy!

Nuclear Energy Leaves More Space for Nature

 
Nuclear energy has a tiny footprint from World Nuclear Association on Vimeo.



Nuclear Energy Helps Solve the Climate Puzzle

 
Nuclear energy helps solve the climate puzzle from World Nuclear Association on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Pro-Nuclear March in California starts June 24

Worldwide Clean Energy Decline
Clean Energy on the decline

A new organization,  Environmental Progress,  calculates that the percentage of electricity generated by clean energy sources is on the decline world-wide.  Fossil plants are being built all over  the world.  Yes, fossil plants are being built in the United States, too.  Natural gas plants are being built here.  The United States natural gas industry has tried to convince everyone that burning natural gas is good for the environment, but gas plants are still fossil plants.

Meanwhile, due to political (mostly) and economic (some) forces, nuclear plants are closing.  More fossil plants are being built. Therefore, the percentage of electricity generated from clean energy sources--- is declining worldwide.

As nuclear closes down, wind turbines do not and cannot make up the loss.  Fossil plants are doing it.  In the Northeast: closing Vermont Yankee meant more gas was used, and this led to 5% more carbon dioxide emitted from the electricity sector in New England.  That is what happens when a nuclear plant is closed.

The Purpose of the March

In response to the clean energy decline, three organizations are sponsoring a multi-day march in California, starting on June 24.  As their website says:
Because the Stakes Couldn't Be Higher

The three sponsoring organizations are
Mothers for Nuclear
Save Diablo Canyon
Environmental Progress
Two other groups are marching with them:
Californians for Green Nuclear Power.
Thorium Energy Alliance

(It is wonderful to see several groups actively supporting nuclear energy.  I hope this is a trend. They say trends often start in California.)

From Mothers for Nuclear

The March itself

The march seems very well organized.  Scroll down here to see the full official schedule, camping arrangements, etc.

  • The march starts in San Francisco, with a march to Greenpeace and Natural Resource Defense Council headquarters. 
  • Then the march moves to East Bay, with camping near Lake Solano. 
  • Then the bicycle-city of Davis California. 
  • The march finishes at the State Capital,  Sacramento, at a Lands Commission Meeting.  

The State Lands Commission is considering whether to renew Diablo Canyon's permits for ocean intake and outfall pipes. The Land Commission permits expire six years before the NRC license would need to be renewed.

Donate

Not all of us can be in California, but we can all donate to the march. If you can attend, this is the signup sheet.  The organizers are asking marchers to donate $25 a day for camping fees and food.  Not all the marchers will be able to do this.  Click the donate button on this page and perhaps donate enough for one camper for one day (or enough for two campers for two days, or...well, you get the picture).

Support the March!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Distribution Grid: Christine Hallquist on Grid Controversies

Hallquist and the grid

Christine Hallquist, CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative, presented the third class in my course: The Grid: What Your Electricity Bill Won't Tell You.

On May 3, 2016 at my class on grid issues, Hallquist described the grid  from the perspective of a rural electric cooperative in Vermont. She heads Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC). This utility was one of the rural Cooperatives of the Rural Electrification movement: it was founded in 1938 to bring electricity to rural Vermont.  It is now the largest locally-owned electric distribution utility in Vermont.  VEC is dwarfed by Green Mountain Power, a utility with a very Vermont-y name. However, Green Mountain Power is actually a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gaz Metro of Quebec.

In my opinion, Vermont Electric Cooperative is the quintessential Vermont utility. It started in the Rural Electrification movement of the 30s, and and it is a cooperative in which the owners and the consumers are the same people.


The Grid: What Your Electricity Bill Won’t Tell You 3/3 from CATV 10 on Vimeo.

As CEO of VEC, Hallquist is concerned with the cost shifts involved in net metering, since  VEC's service area includes low income areas of Vermont. When your owners are your customers, you pay sincere attention to the economic issues.

Late in the talk, Hallquist also discusses grid stability.  Intermittent power tends to be destabilizing: the grid was set up for rotating electric machinery. Rotating machinery has a healthy inertia which helps keep the grid stable. Starting at about 1:20 (1 hour 20 minutes into the talk), Hallquist shows the jagged effects of wind and solar, and the almost un-analyzable harmonics of the intermittents on the grid.  Few utilities collect this type of data.

I am very grateful to Christine Hallquist for sharing her information and her wisdom with our class.

It happens first in a village

Agatha Christie's Miss Marple is able to solve crimes because she has carefully analyzed many (supposedly) smaller issues in a small village.  

To a large extent, Vermont Electric Cooperative is a "village" for the growth of renewables.  The owner/customers are not rich, and they need to keep electricity costs low.  While places like Germany can boast of their renewables while simultaneously building lignite-fired plants, VEC is actually adding renewables and dealing directly with the costs and stability issues that renewables  present.

For example,  the owner/customers have made decisions, very recently,  on how to keep wind energy from being curtailed on their grid.  They are making decisions, right now, on how much net metering the customers can afford.

VEC is hopeful about advances in energy storage and weather forecasting and so forth. (See Hallquist's last slide on "What are we doing about it.")  But right now, there are very real limits for renewables on a small grid, and VEC is reaching those limits.

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Previous sessions 

The first session was The Grid: Power and Policy Introduction, and Howard Shaffer on the Physical Grid.  The second session was Payments on the Grid: What Every Citizen Should Know.  This post is the third and session.  The fourth session was a field trip to ISO-NE, the grid operator headquarters.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Patty O'Donnell at the Department of Energy Summit on Nuclear Power Plants

A lilac 
Department of Energy Summit on Improving the Economics of Nuclear Power Plants

On May 19, the Department of Energy held a summit on Improving the Economics of America's Nuclear Power Plants.  The four-hour meeting included many distinguished speakers, including Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Senator Cory Booker, and more.  You can watch the entire meeting at this link.

A major purpose of the meeting was to find ways to keep America's nuclear fleet running.  Scientific American reported on the meeting. They quoted Secretary Moniz: "We are supposed to be adding zero carbon sources, not subtracting or simply replacing (them)..." The Scientific American article features a picture of Vermont Yankee. The Bloomberg article on the meeting has the following title -- Moniz: Closing Nuclear Plants Poses 'Huge Problem'.

Vernon's own Patty O'Donnell spoke at this meeting.  O'Donnell described the human impact due to Vermont Yankee closing.  If you move the video slider to the 2:39 mark (2 hours and 39 minutes into the four hour video) you can watch her ten minute talk.  It was an important and moving description of the effects of the plant closing. Her talk showed a part of the human face of "why we need nuclear energy."

Adams blog focuses on O'Donnell's talk

Rod Adams' Atomic Insights blog post about the meeting focused on O'Donnell's talk. His post is Real people are harmed when other people decide to close nuclear plants.  I encourage you to read it, and also to read the comments. Adams blog gets interesting and knowledgable comments.

Adams also made a YouTube of O'Donnell's talk.  He has it posted on his blog post, and I am sharing it here.  Big THANK YOU to Rod Adams!  A ten-minute video is so much more appealing than a four hour video. I share his video below.





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Two little notes:

I used a picture of a lilac on this blog post because a lilac is blooming outside my window now, and because I imagine myself handing a bouquet of flowers to Patty O'Donnell.

My own major blog post on this subject is Circles of Pain around Vermont Yankee Closing.