What could Government Welfare to the Nuclear Industry Buy Us?


My commentary on an article published in CommonDreams on the Nuclear “Welfare” Handout.

Here’s a little music to get you into the mood of what follows and it is key to understanding the reality of what is being sold you by the Nuclear Power Industry & Lobbyists. Thanks to youtube and especially Royksopp as I love this song!

Published on Thursday, May 29, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
Half-Trillion Dollars for Nukes!
by Karl Grossman

“With Wall Street unwilling to finance new nuclear plants, U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and John Warner of Virginia have cooked up a scheme to provide $544 billion –­ yes, with a “b” — in subsidies for new nuclear power plant development.

Their move will be debated on the floor of the Senate Tuesday, June 3.

A Lieberman aide describes the plan as “the most historic incentive for nuclear in the history of the United States.”

The Lieberman-Warner scheme is cloaked in a climate change bill — the claim being that nuclear power plants don’t emit greenhouse gases and thus don’t contribute to global warming. However, the overall “nuclear cycle” ­– which includes mining, milling, fuel enrichment and fabrication, and reprocessing — has significant greenhouse gas emissions that do contribute to global warming.

Moreover, nuclear power is enormously dangerous. Accidents like the Chernobyl explosion of 1986 stand to kill and leave many people with cancer. Nuclear plants routinely emit life-threatening radioactivity. Safeguarding nuclear waste for millions of years is an insoluble problem.

Nevertheless, there have long been powerful forces in government and the nuclear industry promoting atomic energy.

Wall Street is uneasy — rightfully regarding nuclear power as terribly risky. Six of the nation’s largest investment banks including CitiGroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley last year told the U.S. Department of Energy that the risks “make lenders unwilling…to extend long-term credit.””

read the rest at Common Dreams.org

Imagine if $544,000,000,000 were spent on solar or wind, what it would get us?

OK, I’m gonna do some simple numbers on what this could buy…

This basic solar power package cost $8,670 and produces 1050 watts of power.

I found an estimate of the number of “homes” in the USA at 102 million based on census data.

The half trillion dollars could provide for 57,670,000 systems or roughly 0.565 systems for every house in America.

So with this money, 57.67 million homes could be equipped with a solar power system that could be fed into the already existing electric distribution system.

Now lets look for a slightly more efficient system that increases power output disproportionately to the increase of cost. aka, spend a little more, get a lot more output. This would be the system that doubles the output to 2100 watts but only increases the price by ~57% to $14,956.

This gives us 36.37 million systems that could be installed for the same money Lieberman, et.al. propose spending on nuclear power.

I’ll put some information into our calculations from this site, SolarBuzz.com, which states “A 1 kilowatt peak Solar System will generate around 1,600 kilowatt hours per year in a sunny climate and about 750 kilowatt hours per year in a cloudy climate.”

We have a 2.1 kilowatt peak solar system, and we will average the two different system outputs to reflect putting systems evenly throughout the US. (1600 + 750) / 2 = 1225 for an average, now multiplied by the system over double the size we arrive at 2572.5 kilowatts per system per year.

Taking this per system output and multiplying it by the number of systems that can be built by the $544 billion dollars, we arrive at 93,570,473 MegaWatts of power per year, where a Mega Watt is equal to 1,000 kiloWatts.

Pulling the Department of Energy numbers, the average household’s monthly consumption of electricity is 866 kiloWatts or 10,392 kiloWatts per year.

And if we look at this as a unified undertaking, given the simple fact that money given from the federal government, in theory at least, is from a communal source, the US taxpayers, we come to the conclusion that this $544 billion dollars spent on a massive solar power project, would supply 9,004,087 households with power. Power that does not cost anything, given the “government” subsidized the investment of the power source as they so propose to do with this subsidy to the nuclear power industry. This would supply 8.83% of the residential electric consumption of the entire country, this is no small amount that can be tossed aside.

Now, there is something important to consider. This government investment in the US electric power production would not directly cost the users anything over time for the 20 year life expectancy of the solar system. However, if the government gives this $544 billion dollars to subsidize the nuclear power industry and their construction of more nuclear plants, will the electricity generated be free to all consumers of the nation? Why do I already know the answer to this question without asking.

So in essence, Senators Joe Lieberman & John Warner, are proposing providing “welfare” to the nuclear industry to build nuclear plants, then after building them, they will charge the rate payers most likely at the prevailing rate for electricity. How does this logic make any sense, if the government could invest in a program that once paid for costs nothing to produce 8.83% of our residential electric consumption why are they giving corporate welfare to the nuclear industry who will turn around and charge users for the power consumption?

This is not even looking at it from a “wacky environmentalist” perspective of; nuclear power not being safe, we have no realistic manner to safely dispose of the waste product, we do not take into account the green house gases released by both building a nuclear plant and supplying it with uranium fuel, and the impacts taking cool water out of our rivers & lakes, and then returning it at a higher temperature.

I’ve been seeing the Nuclear crowd picking up speed lately, and here on the blogosphere, over and over again those who want to ensure our energy independence point towards Nuclear power as the “solution” to the problem while at the same time fighting against electric cars. Are they advocating “back to the future” type cars that each has a mini-nuclear reactor under the hood?

I took a break in the middle of putting this together, and low and behold, there was a nice new friendly happy Nuclear industry promotion on the TV with a nice friendly & benign name us.Areva.com. And if you hadn’t noticed given I worked out all the numbers here, I am very logically left brained, so I find their commercial very catchy.

It reminds me way too much of the “can’t get it out of my head addiction” of the Geico commercials, and the reason why is only 2 degrees of separation away. When you recall the “retro 70s tennis player meets Polo caveman” on the airport people mover, what is the song that comes to your head?

Well you shouldn’t have had to think about it too long, as you were listening to it as you read prior to watching the Avera advertisement.

Hmm, happy songs and catchy commercials are America’s solution to the growing energy crisis. I noticed in the us.Avera.com advertisement, it lays out a “happy” simple manner in which something in the ground is taken out, has “something” done to it, then “magically” you are able to dance in The Sim’s Nightclub. Yet there is no mention of where the “something” that “magically” brings us “happy times” goes to once it is done doing all these special things. Nor does it show how much it costs all of us collectively either.

So, as I like this sentence, I repeat it again so that every time you see another Gieco commercial you can give this some serious thought and consider what is being sold to you.

Happy songs and catchy commercials are America’s solution to the growing energy crisis.

8 thoughts on “What could Government Welfare to the Nuclear Industry Buy Us?

  1. I have a hard time with subsidies to the nuke industry, if the industry cannot fund itself then I say screw ’em.

    The only thing a strong nuke energy will produce is more waste that we cannot store properly.

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  2. Nice analysis regarding cost analysis, if Nuclear Power becomes an option, citizens should demand lower prices. We should start agitating for lower prices now as well as start actively evaluating what type of plants they plan on building and the waste management procedures they plan on using. [edited for clarity]

    BHC,
    that would never happen, us getting a reduced rate. I love that 1st we pay in taxes (debt) to subsidize them for building the plants, then we have pay a second time for “cost of generation” to get it into our houses. And if it is not in this article, I heard it on the radio, the nuclear industry is not responsible for any “accidents”. It falls back on the taxpayers if there is a meltdown, etc. Lovely!

    Oregon & the Columbia River are home to some of the most productive hydro power plants in the country (I’d say the smallest dwarfs Hoover in overall average MWatts) but a couple years ago, Bush not only changed the “rules” that required them to sell the power locally at a slightly reduced rate, to “market rate” so they could ship it off to California (Enron Style) and also at the same time increase the output by letting more water spill, well the salmon died in huge numbers with lower water & increased temperatures, and now a spawning cycle later, there is basically a moratorium on Salmon fishing as they are counting the numbers of returning fish on “a single hand”!
    ~Hans

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  3. What would happen??? Haven’t you heard that the same environmentalist that demanded wind and solar energy are now complaining about the mechanisms that produce wind and solar energy? Please people, this isn’t hard to keep up with.Especially if you are intellectually honest. The primary purpose for the environmental movement is the destruction of Capitalism. Pure and Simple!

    These groups are all headed by Marxist socialists who have admitted as much. These are the people now complaining that wind mills and solar panels take up to much land mass. That the propellers are killing birds. Ted Kennedy wants to impose these wind farms on you, but don’t dare put one where he can see it from where he lives….what, you didn’t hear that story?

    I hate Marxist Socialist and all the pretenders who aren’t honest about who they are and what they want. Socialism and Communism never did anything but create death and misery! Am I wrong about this….NO! The current movement just thinks that the wrong people tried it…now they want their turn, because they think THEY can create the utopia Carl Marx promised so many years ago!

    Battling all this ignorance is sooo exhausting!

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  4. BTW…for all you mind numbed robots who believe Obama is the Messiah. Can you give me one accomplishment of this guy, who says NOTHING better than just about anyone ever has.

    What does he mean by “change?” He has proven he is nothing more than the same old tired left wing politician who lies through his teeth. Do I need to mention Jerry Wright..? Obama claimed he didn’t know this was who the man was….after 20 years of choosing to belong to his church, marrying he and his America hating wife, baptizing his two daughters. Oh yes, and serving as an adviser on his campaign. No…He didn’t know this was who the man was…But George Bush lied about WMDs that the UN thought was there, that Bill Clinton said was there, that all the intelligence agencies were there…but Obama didn’t lie.

    OH..and Pfleger…no…Obama didn’t know who this guy was…or who William Ayers was…no…all these radical, America hating Marxists…Obama knew nothing about…after years of affiliation.

    You who claim to buy that sicken me. You are liars just like he is…either you have a total double standard and are willing to ignore the truth you know, or you agree with all the America hating Marxists that want to destroy this country. Either way…you sicken me!!!

    Go ahead..I know what is going to happen now. You will not have any credible come back to the facts I just cited, so you will resort to name calling and more lies. That’s fine. The facts I cite are there for anyone intellectually honest enough to care about finding the truth. Your names and innuendos will be nothing more than that, names and innuendos. Nowhere to go for legitimate, relatively unbiased research into the facts. Oh well….Such are Marxists!

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  5. Yawn….
    you apparently have modified traditional Republican mantra of hate and lies and converted over to liberal discussion. welcome, glad you could join in although you might want to put in some fact instead of just claiming your opinion to be fact.
    anyways not much else to say here, as you just cut and pasted “liberal” arguments minus the facts and claimed them to be higher road arguments.
    btw I need not slander and insult you as it is not worth it

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  6. Funny, having been away for awhile, I reread my post and well come to this conclusion…

    Al, did you even bother reading the post or just spew stupidity for the sake of spewing stupidity?

    Last I checked what is corporate welfare, read: subsidies again? … Socialism! So the few points you tried to make are well… hypocritical!

    I think last I heard over the next 30 years the global green technology revolution will be upwards of $50 trillion dollars. What part of this is “destroying capitalism” again?

    So why don’t you try to read and well you might find some “legitimate, relatively unbiased research into the facts.”

    “Oh well, Such are” Idiots!

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  8. A typical rooftop system to supply 100% of a family’s electric needs cost about $45,000 and only a fraction of the rooftops in the U.S. are properly oriented and otherwise suitable. Also, of those 110 million households, many are renters, many are city dwellers or live in condos. Rooftop solar isn’t economically viable in most cases, but I agree with you in that if the government spent the money on renewable energy we’d be way better off. My disagreement is with which renewable projects. To get the most bang for the buck, we need large-scale projects properly sited. If you visit my web site there are some sample projects (under the projects button) that you can compare to one another. With rooftop solar you are talking about Net Metering, so choose one of the net metering options and the PS-10 project in Spain and maybe a wind project to see the comparison. It’s pretty interesting. These comparisons use the PRE-Plan as the funding basis, except for the Net Metering examples since Net Metering is a different means of funding than the PRE-Plan. (my site is ProfitableRenewableEnergy.com)

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