What price progress?

J. Siry

Nuclear energy for electricity generating purposes has long been considered too expensive Fissionby financial markets because of its costs, the length of time it takes to build a plant, the storage of spent fuels, and the need to take the facility apart forty years after it is built in order to hide radioactive parts somewhere safe.

Another deception involves nuclear fuel since it is refined from uranium ore. Mining, transportation, and refinement all require coal or oil to generate the electricity and ship the finished products to market. While all those costs are subsidized by existing federal and state regulations, the reason some utilities want to move in an atomic direction is that we taxpayers and rate payers will guarantee those private and public utilities a return on such exorbitant costs. In addition utilities do not want to lose customers to solar electrical systems that reduce electricity demand instead of adding to the kilowatts consumed.

To be clear, nuclear power is not clean energy, but geothermal is cleaner and more reliable. An MIT study some years ago revealed the availability of and the potential for geothermal power to meet the base-load requirements of the entire nation, given better transmission lines from west to east.

Progress Energy and OUC should take the lead from Gainesville (GRU) where the municipal utility there is building a plant run from forestry waste products. Such plants employ more people than do nuclear plants and can add to the base-load demands that all utilities foresee.

Further, we need a means of allowing utilities to count conservation (kilowatts not consumed) as part of the assets on their books instead of penalizing both the consumer and the advocates of the solar thermal and solar electricity industry. Sunbelt based small businesses would be far more profitable with a solar roof and the installation specialists would see a growth in their business.

booksTime is not on the side of coal or nuclear energy, but it is on the side of geothermal, green roof designs to cut most building’s needs for cool air in summer or warm air in winter, and solar. If we call for a level playing field among all forms of fuels for electrical power, then where the investors put their money? Today look at where investment is. Those dollars are invested in wind and natural gas. Why? Most likely is the speed of return on the dollar invested.

Build a nuclear plant and you will be saddled with costs that the taxpayer will have to payoff for generations after the facility is out of operation. So do call nuclear what it is – a tax on dirty fuels because it is so expensive and employs very few people when compared to other fuels for electrical power.

459 words.

learn Thursday, March 12, 2009.