In the post at ANS Nuclear Café today, there's an accurate analysis of the San Onofre shutdown: Environmental Impact Evaluation--Seeing the Bigger (Nuclear vs. Fossil) Picture. In this post, Jim Hopf discusses various issues, including San Onofre. Among other things, he notes that old fossil-burning plants at Huntington Beach have been brought out of retirement to make up for San Onofre's power. As Hopf says: the shutdown will result in ~2000 MW of additional fossil fueled generation for several decades.
For a mixed analysis, let's go to NEI Nuclear Notes, with an blog post that quotes many California newspapers on the closing: Reactions to San Onofre Closing: It "ought to jolt the governor." The Sacramento Bee admits: The plant cannot be replaced solely with sun and wind, at least not with current technology. The Bee notes that Senator Boxer hails the shut-down. The article also notes that the possibility of rolling blackouts: ought to jolt the governor [Jerry Brown], the official who will be held most responsible if California faces rolling blackouts this summer and beyond, as happened during [former Gov.] Gray Davis' truncated tenure.
Ah yes, I remember it well. I lived in California during the earlier set of rolling blackouts.
However, according to a recent article in the San Luis Obispo paper, the California System Operator does not expect rolling blackouts due to the plant shutdown. They expect to make up the loss of power with gas systems, renewables, and transmission lines. Earlier articles on the shut-down focused on how tight electrical resources are likely to be: this article is more reassuring. Meanwhile, Jim Hopf's statement at ANS Nuclear Café remains true: closing San Onofre means more fossil generation.
The Mixed and the Ugly: The debate at Huffington Post Live
Yesterday, the Huffington Post Live (webstreaming) sponsored a discussion about San Onofre. This was an excellent idea. Instead of reading short quotes, you can hear several people discuss the closing. The four people were:
- S. David Freeman, a former nuclear regulator (against nuclear energy)
- Steve Kerekes, spokesperson, Nuclear Energy Institute
- Jim Riccio, Greenpeace, antinuclear activist
- Ben Bergman, Reporter, KPCC
So why do I call this debate "mixed" and "ugly"? The idea was good, the moderator was good, and so forth. What more do I want?
My main problem was that Mr. Freeman made the most outrageous assertions and was seldom challenged.
- Early in the debate, Freeman claims that renewable power is a better choice nowadays because now we have storage options for electricity. Huh? We do?
- Later, he speaks of cogeneration without mentioning that cogeneration generally depends on a fossil fuel source being burned within an industrial facility.
- Similarly, Freeman talks about getting heat and cooling directly from the earth, without bothering to mention heat pumps. Heat pumps are run by electricity.
There is no free lunch, Mr. Freeman. Sorry.
Face Time and Faces
I congratulate Steve Kerekes of NEI for his excellent job at answering some of Freeman's statements. For example, Freeman claimed that large plants decrease the reliability of the grid. Kerekes answered that was a funny thing to say when you had the kind of grid reliability we have had in this country.
However, in order to answer the endless assertions of Freeman and Riccio, Kerekes would have had to take all the time of the discussion. This was clearly impossible.
Another thing: Riccio, Bergman and Kerekes had webcams aimed at them, and you can see them speaking. Webcams are easily available, but Freeman didn't use one. Instead of facing a camera, Freeman chose to show a picture of himself in a cowboy hat. Therefore, you can't read his face as he spoke. Did Freeman know he was saying some things that weren't true? I wish I could have seen his face on-camera.
More discussions please!
Enjoy the debate discussion below, and go to the web site if you want to see the viewer comments. We need more of these multi-person events. I am glad that Huffington Post Live arranged this one.