Turkey Point > Small Reactors – Going where the fight is
Shouldn’t we do more research? Well, the Navy has for 60 years and can’t get small (non-modular) reactor costs down to anything reasonable in either aircraft carriers or submarines. They do them anyway, because these are cost plus rather than market driven projects, but don’t look for cities or utilities, which have to watch bottom lines, to follow the military in energy investment strategy.
If over half a century of well funded research and significant motivation on the part of the military does not convince you that economical SMRs are not imminent, then let me up the ante. Westinghouse Nuclear, the largest nuclear construction company in the US, has dropped SMRs. This means the second best nuclear marketing team in the world thinks they can’t sell these.
All five reactors under construction in the US currently are Westinghouse designs. Westinghouse’s reason for ditching SMRs, “There are no customers”
First the good news (for fighting TP6&7, not for the citizens of FL or the environment):
These reactors are early in their licensing stage, so there is plenty of time to slow down/bog down the approval process and or kill the proposal outright. Specifically, we have until July 17 to get comments into the NRC.
The reactors use a tremendous amount of water in an area which likely can’t handle it, even if local sewage treatment water is heavily used. The existing reactors are not able to stay cool despite huge quantities of water being used.
The site is located both near parks and at a very low water level that will flood in the event of hurricanes and otherwise rising waters.
All of the 5 reactors under construction in the US are both late and over-budget. As has been every other reactor built in the US of the last 70 reactors in a row. FLP will almost certainly blow its proposed budget for this pair of new reactors.
Now the bad news:
Florida has Construction Work in Process (CWIP) which allow utilities to charge rate payers for expensive project failures. This was central to the new reactor in SC and Georgia being approved, when they can not get similar projects thru in states without CWIP.
The nuclear utility has tremendous political power and are generally able to get both the FL Public Utility Commission and the FL State Legislature to give them everything they want. This said, it is still worth talking with state activists to see if there had ever been a successful campaign to lobby the PUC. Certainly, loud enough campaigning can influence the legislature, though they are screamed at with some regularity and bought off far more often. The nuclear utilities in Florida have made a most fascinating argument against solar power: it helps rich people get richer. Because of the high up front costs of roof top solar PV, only rich people can afford it, so, since we want a grid funded by everyone, the rich should be prohibited from profiting from their capital and everyone should pay for the grid. To be clear, the reason utilities build nuclear power plants is that they have a bunch of money (or credit) now and want to buy this incredibly expensive thing, that only they can buy and then make lots of money off (by not paying for waste, insurance, terrorist risks, etc). So the incredibly rich FL utilities have convinced the sunshine state that solar power is bad here, because it will give the rich more money.
The Solutions Project has 50 plans, one for each state, on how to get to 100% renewable energy in the US by 2050. Not one plan uses nuclear reactors.