The local paper is running my letter to the editor￼. It is a reply to an article they ran last week about the Ohio bill to keep Davis Besse and Perry nuclear power plants open and operating￼ with a small fee tacked on to rate payers bills ($0.85 funded by reducing the Ohio renewable energy surcharge). Questions of plant safety and waste issues were brought up in the article.
Here you go, enjoy!
Dear Editor Oberlin Review,
I am writing in response to last weeks article “House Bill -6 poses serious environmental, health risks”.
I was involved in the several year campaign to keep the Lake Erie based nuclear electric generators open and operating. The Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUC) reports that 15% of Ohio’s total electrical generation volume comes from these facilities. This electricity is provided to customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week regardless of the weather. The electricity is generated by the fission of uranium in the nuclear reactors, a process that is highly monitored, maintained, regulated and inspected.
The Ohio PUC reports that 11,000,000 tons of CO2, 18,000 tons of sulfur dioxides and 12,000 tons of Nitrous oxides emissions from coal oil and gas burning have been avoided since the plants began operation in the late 70s and the mid-1980s because they displaced fossil fueled electrical generation. Davis Besse has been re-license to operate up to the year 2037 and Perry could be re-licensed after 2025 for another 20 years (up to 2045). Both facilities account for all of the partially fissioned urainium fuel rods they use. All of the spent fuel rods are placed in steel and concrete storage casks. This partially used fuel is owned by the federal government and is stored at the facilities by Federal regulation. That material is not really waste, it still has over 90% of its uranium un-fissioned (That however is another story for another letter to the editor).
Nowadays the current fleet of nuclear reactors (99 machines) produce 20% of the United States total electrical generation. Most of the fleet was originally constructed 3 to 4 decades ago. However, the original builders would recognize very little of operation and sub systems. These facilities are constantly updated as new technology and systems evolve as did cars, computers and airplanes. Because of the improvements, the fleet on average provides electricity 92% of the year between fueling and maintenance outages. They are also some of the most injury free industrial work places for the engineers and union trades people employed there.
Both facilities (east and west of Cleveland) are the cornerstones of their local county economy. Davis Besse NPP Occupies 947 acres (most of it being a nature preserve) and 1,100 acres at Perry NPP (Most of which is also nature preserve).
First Energy corporation bought the plants a few years ago and they currently operate them. It has been said that First Energy Corp. really doesn’t care where they get the electricity they to sell to customers. If the plants are closed, F.E.Corp could tap the decommissioning funds that electric rate payers have been paying into when we send in our checks to pay the electric bills each month.
If the plants were closed, they would be decommissioned. First Energy corporation would be eligible to extract administrative fees from the Federally mandated decommissioning funds. So if the plants operate or if they don’t, it will not hurt the corporation’s profitability. Plant closure, post decommissioning, would hurt both county, state and regional economies. This scenario has played out multiple times as first generation nuclear power plants have been closed around the country.
House Bill -6 passed the legislature with bipartisan support. Some legislators voted for it because they saw that there would be a dramatic negative economic impact to the regions surrounding the reactor facilities. Others were concerned about the increase in CO2 and other pollutants. The fact is, by a very large percentage, fossil fuel burning replaces closed nuclear power plants. This has been observed in the United States and other countries like Germany and Japan and Italy.
Environmental organizations like Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Council have campaigned for years to close nuclear power plants and they were back at it in Columbus campaigning against H.B.-6. They argued that wind and solar electricity production could cover the missing megawatts if the plants closed. There have been state mandates to grow wind turbine and solar electric production for years however, a drive through western Ohio will reveal that many rural areas in these windblown regions oppose wind turbine tower “farms”. There have also been proposals to put wind turbine towers out in Lake Erie. These efforts have been opposed by wildlife groups concerned that bird and bat populations would be impacted (literally) by the massive deployment of industrial wind turbines and solar to replace the closed nuclear plants.
When one looks at Ohio Public Utility Commission data, the big picture of renewable electricity generation becomes evident. After years of mandates and tax credits and the relaxation of Migratory bird and endangered species regulations, Wind, solar, hydro and bio fuels only make up 3% of electricity production statewide. Hydro dams make up 1% and are pretty reliable (Outside of drought periods). Solar only works when the sun is out and wind only works when it’s blowing enough to spin turbines. What makes up the nighttime generation and the windless periods? Fossil fuel burning, mostly from fast starting fracked gas burner plants. We all want our electrical generation to be as pollution free as possible. However, building brand new renewable power that will still depend on fossil fuel back up to replace two closed reactors make no sense to me. What is Sierra Club thinking?
Those two good working order nuclear power generators that have been essentially paid for by citizen’s electricity bill past payments. House Bill-6 keeps them operating. We all benefit by cleaner electricity. The renewable energy mandate should be modified into a clean energy mandate. Maybe the state legislature can take a look at the old Zero Emission Credit proposal.
Mark Twain once said “It ain’t what you don’t know that get you into trouble, it’s what you know for certain that just ain’t so that does”.
Many good hearted environmentalists think they understand energy and electricity production. I encourage folks to really study the issue. A good starting point is this website: www.ElectricityMap.org. Look at it daily for a month. The electrical generation mix changes through out the day and over the course of weeks. Another good website is: www.GridWatch.ca. It goes into detail on the Ontario Canada grid often the most carbon reduced electricity grid on the planet. If you commit to looking at these sites daily for a month I promise you’ll know more about real world electricity generation than 98% of the people on the planet and that knowledge is real power.