If I had a chance to toss back a few beers with the CEO of Xcel or Exelon or Entergy… here’s what I’d say.
So y’all are making some pretty extraordinary profits lately. Even so…
You’ve been required to pay into a money pit for 2 decades. You’re allowed to pass this on to ratepayers, but it’s still impacting your bottom line.
You know and I know Yucca Mountain is never going to open. You are wisely moving forward with on-site storage, and I see good faith efforts being made to work with local communities. You are, of course limited by the NRC regulations which generally don’t see local communities as having a voice in approving or rejecting on-site storage. The growing recognition of the necessity of these facilities is going to be a factor in getting any future plants built, as communities focus on this an environmental risk and terrorist threat. It’s also costing a pretty penny to build the facilities, and of course, you’re still paying into the Waste Fund.
You make regular contributions to senators and congress people, to see that your interests are looked after, and I think you’d have to agree that this money has been well spent. Let’s think about your interests for a moment… In many of the states where you do business, Renewable Portfolio Standards have been passed, which require you to produce a percentage of your power output from renewables. You are meeting this challenge, and already have sizable investments in wind and solar installations. How are these investments looking next to your nuclear holdings? Even with subsidies, and a cap on liability through the Price-Anderson Act, your capital expenses, decommissioning costs, and the volatility of the uranium market must be keeping you up at night. What does it cost to decommission a wind turbine? You can sell the steel for scrap, and actually recover some of your initial outlay.
Let’s stop the bleeding. It’s at best disingenuous, and at worst, theft to keep charging you for Yucca Mountain. It isn’t going to happen. It’s a political stalemate. It’s also a budget drain, since it’s been a long time since the Waste Fund actually covered Yucca Mountain as a line item.
Let’s start lobbying your Senators and representatives to change the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to abolish the Waste Fund. Further, let’s assess what you have paid thus far.
Second, let’s acknowledge the reality that on-site storage is already happening, and has industry approval, and change the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to reflect this.
Third, let’s determine a fair payment back to you for your outlay towards a project the federal government will never be able to deliver.
Fourth, let’s formally shut down Yucca Mountain. Budget for expenses to close down and remediate the site, but take remaining budget amounts and put them towards paying back Waste Fund expenditures.
Fifth, since eliminating the budget line item for Yucca Mountain is probably not going to be enough to pay back the nuclear power companies, we need to figure out another source for these funds. Here’s the catch: we recognize that you need to be made financially whole for your outlay, but some of this funding will have to come from budget lines currently dedicated to subsidies for nuclear power.
Sixth, we both lobby for extending renewable energy credits instead of sunsetting then every couple of years. This will protect your renewable investments, and encourage healthy competition and research and development. Your Return on Investment is much higher from renewables, anyway. The cutting edge is currently held by Denmark, Spain and Japan. As a nation (and a business sector), are we content to surrender the technological upper hand in these growing industries? With more federal investment, The Xcels, Exelons and Entergy’s would be able to compete with the Vestas, Gamesas and Kyoceras in wind and solar.
We’ll need to get on the phone to our congress people and committee contacts. I’ll work on the constituent political cover, you work on letting them know it’s in your business interests, and their political interests to move on this.
Chew on this a bit, while I buy the next round.