Saturday, March 6, 2010

Future of spent nuclear fuel

A blue ribbon commission will hold its first meeting March 25-26 in Washington, DC

blue_ribbonA panel of nuclear energy experts appointed by the federal government will take up the issue of what to do with 60,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel. Appointed by Department of Energy Sec. Steven Chu, the 15 members of a Blue Ribbon Commission will look at a broad range of options for managing the material and related nuclear waste from the nation’s nuclear reactors.

The one choice they won’t have is to use Yucca Mountain in Nevada. That option is off the table. [White House – Presidential Memorandum]

The panel was appointed Jan 29 with the objective of coming up with solutions to dealing with spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. The “Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future” will conduct a comprehensive review for managing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Within 18 months it will produce a draft report on alternatives for storage, reprocessing, and disposal of civilian and defense spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste. A final report is due in January 2012.

Read the full details of their agenda and some of the technology options at CoolHandNuke, a nuclear energy jobs portal and a whole lot more.

coolhandnuke

# # #

Friday, March 5, 2010

Nuclear loan guarantees ~ next stop grassroots support

Obama lanhamNow that he actively supports the nuclear renaissance, the President needs all the help he can get to convince Congress to add $36 billion to the program

The Obama administration served up a welcome surprise Feb 16 with a well-honed speech supporting federal loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants. At the same time, the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded $8.3 billion, out of existing authority of $18.5 billion, to Southern’s Vogtle plant. The project plans to build two Westinghouse 1,150 MW AP1000 reactors at a site in Georgia. Another three reactor projects have been short-listed by DOE under the current program.

In the 2011 federal budget request to Congress, the President requested the authority to issue an additional $36 billion in federal loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants. (see video below)

Depending on who’s counting and how, there 12-18 new reactors with license applications in motion at the NRC. At an average price of $6 billion each, the President’s request would cover another six-to-eight new reactor projects.

Democrats had a mixed set of responses to the initial announcement and the budget request. The green wing of the party squawked loudly especially in the House. However, in the Senate, where climate change legislation is pending, some Republicans welcomed the proposal as an olive branch to gain bipartisan support for the bill.

How to get Obama grassroots support for loan guarantees

There are repeatable models in the world of Washington politics to gain support in Congress for bill money items. Even though the loan guarantees don’t involve actual spending, opponents will portray them that way.

Building grass roots support in as many congressional districts as possible is an effective counter measure to inside-the-beltway below the belt attacks by the anti-nuclear factions.

rocket scienceHere’s how one of them works. When a major defense corporation is pushing funding for a new weapons system, like a missile or fighter jet, it rounds up the suppliers for the system identifying them and the jobs in as many congressional districts as possible.

Then the defense contractors present their case on benefits in each congressional district, or state, with specific focus on members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t – depending on how much pork is involved relative to tactical readiness and capabilities.

This model could be applied to the loan guarantees. Unlike the defense case, there is no rocket science here. Just match the NRC license applications to the states and congressional districts where the plants will be built. Then fire up the building trade unions, steelworkers, the supply chain through the National Association of Manufacturers and similar trade associations. A list of NQA-1 qualified vendors would be another resource.

Thinking ahead to the 2010 mid-term elections

Hopefully, the nuclear industry is way ahead thinking through this strategy. The President is going to need a broad-based grass roots coalition of people who see the economic benefits of new reactors in the form of jobs and supplying components to the reactors.

By the time Congress gets around to voting on the new $36 billion in loan guarantees, the 2010 mid-term elections will be fast approaching. This is a big enough item that grass roots groups have an opportunity to ask candidates for office where they stand on the measure.

What are your thoughts on building grass roots supports for the new loan guarantees?

Video – NEI on loan guarantees via Clean Skies

# # #

Areva posts 2009 financial results

Net income is down 6% on higher costs from the Finland reactor project

Olkiluoto_3_dome_(TVO)Areva, the French state-owned nuclear giant, posted better than expected financial results for 2009. Net income for the year was EUR552 million compared to EUR589 million in 2008. Earnings per share declined from EUR16.62 in 2008 to EUR15.59 in 2009.

The company provided guidance to stock analysts that it expects a substantial rise in revenue, an increase in the backlog of contract work, higher operating income, and a “strong increase in net profit.”

The company projects revenue in 2010 of EUR12 billion which is affected by the fact the company sold off its transmission and distribution unit in 2009.

Areva took a charge of EUR550 million for delays at the OL3 reactor project in Finland. The company said in its financial statement that the total provisions for delays and cost overruns for the OL3 project are EUR2.3 billion.

The firm cited progress at the project including the installation of the reactor dome. However, new delays occurred in 2009 centered in piping inspections as well as testing and startup of instrumentation and control systems.

Capital requirements and spending

George_Besse_(Areva)Capital spending in 2009 increased to EUR1.8 billion from EUR1.4 billion in 2008 primarily in uranium mining and enrichment. Work proceeded on the George Besse II uranium enrichment plant in France.

Construction won’t start on the Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility, a $3 billion project, until late 2011. A license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected in the first half of 2011. At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing March 4, Energy Sec. Chu said his agency is close to awarding Areva a $2 billion loan guarantee for the plant which will be built in Idaho.

To raise cash to meet new capital requirements Areva sold its transmission and distribution unit for EUR4 billion to two French companies – Alstom and Schneider Electric.

Stock analysts estimate Areva needs EUR11 billion over the next three years to fund construction of a new EPR reactor in Flamanville, France, and for its worldwide operations that span the entire nuclear fuel cycle. Areva is also working on two new EPR reactors in China.

Reuters reported that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and sovereign wealth funds from Qatar and Kuwait are possible sources of investment capital. According to Reuters, Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon said at a press conference on Mar 4 that the talks with potential partners are underway and could result in additional capital by mid-2010.

Previously, Lauvergeon has said Areva could offer as much as a 15% stake in the firm. With a market cap of EUR12.24 billion, that would raise EUR1.84 billion.

"They are speaking with our major shareholder to negotiate the conditions of their entry, both on financial terms and on governance," she said. "The capital increase will be done on the basis of the 2009 results."

Areva’s shares closed March 4 at EUR345 against a 52-week range of EUR343-to-EUR475.

As of Dec. 30, 2009, Areva's order book in its nuclear and renewable activities reached EUR43 billion up about 2% from 2008.

Loss of UAE deal a major setback

In December 2009 Areva’s global expansion in the nuclear energy field was dealt a substantial setback when it was underbid by a South Korean consortium for a $20 billion contract with the United Arab Emirates for multiple nuclear reactors.

Anne LauvergeonAreva Chief Executive Anne Lauvergeon (right) said at the time that the firm had sharpened its pencil as much as practical. She defending the firm’s bid against political criticism.

The French government has repeatedly denied rumors she will be replaced. However, French President Nicholas Sarkozy announced this week closer supervision of all state-owned corporations due to rising unemployment and declining exports.

Andre Gauron, economist at the Cour des Comptes, France’s top economic watchdog, told Reuters March 5 the contraction of the country’s industrial base resulted from “a priority given to investment abroad,” as well as “the idea that we are now a post-industrial economy.”

This view is at odds with the world-beating salesmanship President Sarkozy has shown personally closing Areva’s deal in China for two new nuclear reactors and signing an agreement with India to build two reactors there as well along with multi-decade deals for nuclear fuel.

Despite some European preferences for other priorities, it is unlikely France will impose the “post-industrial” paradigm on Areva.

# # #

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Chu: DOE close to award of $2B loan guarantee to Areva

The $2 billion measure would aid financing of the Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility in Idaho

Dow Jones reports Mar 5 U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that his department is "closing in" on a final decision for a loan guarantee for Areva's nuclear project in Idaho.

In testimony before a Senate appropriations committee Mar 5, Chu was asked why the nuclear loan guarantee is taking so long to award and said: "We're closing in on that."

Reuters reports that Chu complained to the committee that the loan guarantees are a very big deal. He said there is a lot of money is involved and the process that is involved in making a decision is very complicated.

Sen. Bob Bennett (R., Utah) said due diligence on the Eagle Rock uranium enrichment project was completed in October.

Prior coverage on this blog

# # #

Why I voted for Jacques Besnainou for ANS President elect

Jacques Besnainou 3The CEO of Areva North America has knowledge and experience managing the entire nuclear fuel cycle and large organizations.

Plus, he’s easy to talk to and has a great sense of humor.

Over the past few months Jacques Besnainou (right) made the rounds of several chapters of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) (bio) to talk with them about his views on the nuclear industry.

As I reported on this blog last December about his visit to Idaho Falls, he is a compelling speaker with a global view of the future of the nuclear energy industry. BTW: The Idaho Section is the largest of the local chapters and there was a good turnout to hear what he had to say. Note: he was at Richland, WA, this week. Read Kendall Miller's report about his talk there,

Breadth of knowledge and experience

course correction Besnainou will bring to the task knowledge and experience working the entire nuclear fuel cycle. He has vision and knows how to lead large organizations. Like the captain of a seafaring ship, he knows how to navigate over long distances.

Besnainou, who is an American citizen, is fond of quoting John Adams, the U.S. 2nd president, as part of a message emphasizing the facts about nuclear energy. Adams said,

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

He is a stalwart advocate about the stubborn facts of nuclear energy. Here’s what he said last July about critical issues facing the industry.

Proliferation: It can be managed. Countries representing the biggest threats of nuclear proliferation, North Korea and Iran, have never produced one megawatt of power from nuclear energy.

Energy security: Uranium fuel is well distributed in the world, including in stable countries, such as Canada and Australia. Plus, nuclear power will contribute to the electric car’s growth, thereby playing a key role in the transportation sector while helping to wean countries off foreign oil.

Cost: When everything is factored in, including recycling nuclear waste, and a price on carbon from traditional plants, and you add in the costs of handling coal waste, nuclear power is entirely competitive with other energy sources.

Recycling: It is beneficial when managed as part of a cradle-to-cradle energy solution, where 96% of used nuclear fuel is recyclable. Recycled nuclear waste also is reduced to one-fifth its original volume and one-tenth its toxicity.

power towersAs demonstrated by these comments, he will be a terrific advocate for nuclear energy in any public forum. He has vision and a practical grasp of the issues facing the nuclear industry.

Besnainou is an a businessman, a parent, and a community leader. He is an experienced executive who can be effective on day one. These qualities will serve him well to advance the American Nuclear Society’s mission and goals in the coming year.

That’s why I voted for him.

Update 03/05/10

Areva released this video on YouTube



# # #

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another blogger for nuclear energy

Nuclear Fissionary is on the air

nuclear fissionJack Gamble and his colleagues have launched NUCLEAR FISSIONARY, a new blog with substantive discussions of key nuclear energy issues in a graphically appealing package. 

With a multi-talented team, the blog has the potential to mature into a major voice on the Internet about nuclear energy.

Here’s what they have to say about themselves and the blog.

Nuclear Energy suffers from a poor public image. We’re here to change all that.

For decades the nuclear energy industry has been under attack by antinuclear activists both organized and unorganized. Fear and panic have been their call signs and with little regard for science or the impact on civilization, they have remained unchecked for years.

Nuclear Fissionary is committed to providing the facts about nuclear energy. Here the science and technology of the past, present, and future of nuclear energy will be discussed in detail.

As global distaste for fossil fuels grows and climate change becomes a household phrase, nuclear energy will continue to play the role of the solution that has been staring us in the face all this time. With the reliable nature and seemingly limitless supply, nuclear energy is a solution to the energy and climate crisis that is available immediately.

You will find that the technological answers to those political arguments raised against nuclear energy were solved decades ago. With a small geographic footprint, a lack of greenhouse gas emissions, and the economic boon enjoyed by communities hosting nuclear power plants the pros are many, cons few, and future bright for nuclear energy.

Stop by and check them out.

# # #

Update on nuclear energy in New Jersey

The future is getting brighter for reactors in the garden state

new_jersey mapNew Jersey is one of the most urbanized states in the union on its northern half, but in the southern tier the pine barrens offer open spaces and shoreline sites for 3,984 MW of nuclear reactor power spread across four reactors. Three of them, near the Delaware Bay, are owned by PSEG and one by Exelon (NYSE:EXC), is on the eastern ocean shore at Barnegat Bay.

Nuclear reactors generate 51% of the electricity used in the state. Natural gas accounts for 30% and coal 16%.

While the Oyster Creek plant, which is the smallest at 619 MW, has generated the most controversy, that situation may be turning around.

Also, there are new developments for the reactors owned by PSEG. This week the utility announced plans to submit a proposal to the NRC to produce cobalt-60 at the Hope Creek site. The utility also said it plans to submit an early site permit for a new reactor at the Hope Creek site in May 2010.

Oyster Creek update

On Jan 7 the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a draft water discharge permit for the Oyster Creek nuclear plant. The draft requires the plant to replace its once-through cooling system with cooling towers. The price tag is said by Exelon, the owner of the plant, to be ruinously expensive. The utility has said it will shut down the BWR reactor rather than build the towers.

PermitEnvironmental groups are behind the drive for cooling towers. They claim the intake system traps large fish on the intake screens and sends smaller organisms through the cooling pipes. These claims are more political rhetoric than science fact.

First, the number of organisms impacted by the cooling system is quite small compared to the overall population.

Second, studies by Rutgers University Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences have found that fish mortality is increasing in Barnegat Bay due to high nutrient levels that diminish oxygen supplies. The nutrients come from lawn fertilizer and organic runoff, including point sources from secondary treatment plants and the lack of it, along the bay.

Third, the cooling towers will double the water through the intake pipes increasing fish kills.

In public hearings held in late February, Exelon cited the studies on nutrient loading as a critical factor in the health of the bay’s ecosystems. Environmental groups called the utility’s claim it will close the plant “a scare tactic.”

The draft permit was issued in the closing days of the administration of Gov. Jon Corzine. New NJ Gov Chris Chistie criticized the action calling it a “last minute” political ploy. However, he is letting stakeholders have their say in the hearings.

Bob Martin, the new commissioner for the NJ Department of Environmental Protection said in a media interview Feb 6 he’s not committed to the cooling towers. For the time being, he said, he wants to see what the public thinks and get up to speed on a broad range of issues facing his agency. This response suggests the cooling tower issue could cool its heels as a back burner issue for the agency.

Bottom line the cooling towers won’t save fish, will kill the plant, and environmental groups will not count the cost of fossil electricity purchased to replace the carbon emission free power from Oyster Creek.

Hope Creek seeks cobalt production role

Cobalt-60_The Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG, which owns and operates the Hope Creek nuclear reactor, a 1,061 MW BWR which came online in December 1986, has submitted a proposal to the NRC to produce cobalt-60 at the plant.

Nonradioactive cobalt occurs naturally in various minerals and has long been used as a blue coloring agent for ceramic and glass. Radioactive Co-60 is produced commercially through linear acceleration for use in medicine and industry. Co-60 also is a byproduct of nuclear reactor operations, when metal structures, such as steel rods, are exposed to neutron radiation.

According to the NRC press release of March 2, PSEG seeks permission to alter the reactor’s core by inserting up to 12 modified fuel assemblies with rods containing Cobalt-59 pellets, which would absorb neutrons during reactor operation and become Cobalt-60.

PSEG’s pilot program would gather data to verify that the modified fuel assemblies perform satisfactorily in service prior to use on a production basis. PSEG has informed the NRC that if the amendment is granted, the company plans to insert the modified assemblies during Hope Creek’s planned fall 2010 refueling outage.

According to World Nuclear News, most of the world's cobalt-60 supply, 80% or more, has been produced at Canada's National Research Universal (NRU) reactor at Chalk River. However, this 50 year old reactor has been offline for essential repairs for many months and will not return until April 2010 or later.

Cobalt-60 is used to treat cancer and sterilize medical and consumer products. It is the basis for food irradiation technology which vastly extends the shelf life of otherwise perishable products.

In January 2010 the NRC approved a license amendment for Exelon’s Clinton Nuclear Power station in Illinois to produce Cobalt-60. GE-Hitachi has deals with both PSEG and Exelon to market the isotopes to end-users.

PSEG to submit ESP for new reactor at Hope Creek

hope creek in NJThe Atlantic City Press reported March 2 PSEG will submit an early site permit to the NRC in May 2010. The application does not obligate the company to build a plant. A spokesman for PSEG told the newspaper:

"It does not designate what kind of reactor technology it will use. We don't know if it will be one unit or two or what its megawatt output will be."

The NRC review can take up to two years. If PSEG decided to take the next step, it would submit a license application to the NRC. It could take a year or two to prepare the paperwork. Once the NRC dockets the application, a 42-month clock starts ticking for the review. Additional approvals would be needed from state and local governments.

The spokesman also told the Atlantic City Press the the company plans to choose from a standardized plant design. By the time the utility submits a license application, it could have as many as five to choose from including designs from Westinghouse, Areva, GE-Hitachi (2 reactor designs), and Mitsubishi.

PSEG’s spokesman said:

"The way plants were built years ago, no two plants are alike. The NRC is looking at certified designs - four or five designs you can build - to try to get some uniformity across the industry. This will lead to better pricing and also the compatibility of components so one piece of equipment works in a dozen plants around the country. You don't have to do retrofits on components."

Anti-nuclear activist Norm Cohen of the group Unplug Salem, told the newspaper his group thinks the current reactor site is unstable and cannot support another unit. The group’s unequivocal aim is to close all nuclear power plants in NJ and prevent any new reactors from being built.

In fact, the reactor is one of three at the site which is not seismically active. It is located about 50 miles southwest of Camden, NJ. (map)

In April 2007 when the proposal for a new reactor for the site was first aired by PSEG, company spokesman Paul Rosengren told the Delaware News Journal:

"Clearly, the location in South Jersey was originally envisioned for four units. It has three. It makes sense to look at that site, which has some infrastructure advantages.

If you are going to get serious about carbon emissions, you need to take a serious look at the potential expansion of nuclear power."

# # #

Monday, March 1, 2010

More blog performance tweaking

Fewer widgets mean faster load time

bloggingAt the expense of some aspects of the social media revolution, I’ve made two more changes to the blog. These changes will speed up load time and reduce even further the possibility of JavaScript errors.

Slow social widgets

The Google FriendConnect widget has been removed completely from sidebar. It was a source of Javascript errors.  The good news is not many people used it.  So far just 16 people signed on. By comparison, almost 400 people use the RSS feed.

I’d rather you got the full RSS feed than worry about showing your smiling face or your avatar on the blog in a widget.

Put another way, a 30-day snapshot from Google Analytics taken this afternoon shows 7,000 visits and 9,100 page views.  I’d rather make those people happy and hope the 16 folks who used the widget won’t mind.

FriendFeed is also gone as a widget, but you can find it as a passive link in the “badges” section.  Like FriendConnect, it relied on JavaScript and loading data from its servers.  Slow downs at FriendFeed meant slow load of the blog pages here. Unacceptable.

Click on the badge (below) to go to the FriendFeed web site if you want to get the content from the blog and the Twitter feed in the same place.

Subscribe to me on FriendFeed

 Why I’m here

feedback My primary purpose is to communicate information and analysis about the global nuclear energy industry. 

Social media widgets are fun, and help build community, but if they get in the way of the main reason this blog exists, sorry but they are gone.

I’m always interested your feedback to learn what you want as a reader from visiting this blog. 

Drop me a line djysrv [at] gmail [dot] com  

Thanks.

# # #

NRC dockets Int’l Isotopes license application

Fluorine.svgCompany plans to build a $55 million uranium de-conversion plant in Hobbs, NM

International Isotopes Inc. (OTC:INIS) announced March 1 the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has formally accepted for review the company's license application for its depleted uranium de-conversion and fluorine extraction processing facility. The paperwork was submitted to the agency last December.

The plant would convert depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6) into depleted uranium oxide, a form which is more chemically stable. The fluoride compounds extracted in the process would be sold commercially. The depleted uranium hexafluoride is expected to come from commercial enrichment facilities.

The NRC is expected to take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete the license review. Based upon NRC's projection of the administrative and technical review schedules, the agency anticipates completing the license review and issuing the license Safety Evaluation Report and Environmental Impact Statement documents by January 2012.

NRC also notes, however, that this date could change depending on budget and resource constraints, the findings of their technical review, or other factors.

laflin_photo(2)Steve T. Laflin, President and CEO, (right) stated, "The de-conversion facility is a first of its kind commercial nuclear installation and the licensing requirements for such a facility were not clearly defined.

“The company had to communicate frequently with the NRC to define these regulatory requirements to prepare an application that would meet present, as well as future anticipated, regulatory requirements for combined fuel cycle and uranium processing facilities.”

Status of the deconversion facility plans

In March 2009, the company announced the selection of a 640-acre building site for the facility just west of Hobbs, New Mexico. In June the company announced completion of the Conceptual Design Report (CDR) for the project. The final cost of the plant could be in the range of $55 million according to previous estimates announced by the firm.

The company plans to select a design and build contractor in 2011 and may initiate some pre-license construction activities at the Hobbs site in 2010, subject to NRC approval.

The INIS facility is planned for a location about 15 miles west of Hobbs, NM, and will consist of both depleted uranium de-conversion and fluorine gas extraction processes.

Fluorine extraction equipmentINIS holds patents that give it exclusive rights to the Fluorine Extraction Process (FEP), which produces high value, high purity gases in conjunction with uranium de-conversion, and thus, provides a key commercial advantage to the de-conversion plant.

INIS expects to hire about 150 construction workers for the project and anticipates that it will eventually have a full time staff of approximately 130 to 150 employees for plant operations. Construction of the $55 million facility is anticipated to begin in the third quarter in 2011 or first quarter 2012, after Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing is complete, and to begin operations in late 2012.

Consistent with an agreement with the State of New Mexico, no waste from the plant will be disposed of in that state. A low-level waste facility is located just over the New Mexico border in Andrews, TX.

Prior coverage on this blog

# # #

Sunday, February 28, 2010

States grapple with nuclear energy

Experience varies widely

State quartersWhat’s a state legislature to do? The President earlier this month went to Maryland, which already had two nuclear reactors and is planning a third, to announce he’s granting an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to two more new nuclear reactors in Georgia. That’s two states down, 48 to go.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for states that don’t already have nuclear reactors to sign up for them. However, states that do have reactors are still not falling all over themselves to follow in the President’s footsteps.

West Virginia’s coal legacy lives to fend off nuclear another day

Lawmakers in West Virginia, a coal state if ever there is one, saw to it that a bill to lift the ban on new nuclear reactors in that state never got out of committee in the state senate. Sen. Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, saw his initiative buried in “no” votes by the Senate Judiciary Committee Feb 17.

In the end it was the coal industry that cast the decisive vote in the committee meeting even though a representative of the West Virginia Environmental Council, which also opposed the measure, got considerable face time with the committee. Sen. Richard Browning, D-Wyoming, said:

“We’re a coal state. We develop our technologies to burn coal, burn it cleaner, so we can produce power, produce it here.”

Garvin’s clincher was a NIMBY tactic. He asked committee members, “Who among you wants to go home and tell your constituents you are bringing a nuclear reactor to your district?”

Colorado will not go nuclear for now

Despite some cheerleading by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo), Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) said last week it has no plans to build or invest in a nuclear reactor in Colorado. With a market capitalization of less than $10 billion, such a “bet the company” decision is simply not in the picture. With the company’s stock trading just less than $1 off its 52-week high, executives there with stock compensation looking them in the eye have no intention of spooking investors.

Environmental groups in Colorado have been mounting concerted attacks on uranium mining in the state. While Udall is generally seen as a “green” politician, his qualified endorsement of nuclear energy startled some green groups. They also raised objections about water use by nuclear plants in a state where population growth is already impacting water rights for farming.

Tri-state Generation continues to flirt with the idea of a nuclear power plant in far southeast Colorado to serve its customers in Kansas. That state rejected the utility’s plans for coal-fired plants. Spokesman Robert McLennan said Feb 17, “We are preserving the option to build a nuclear facility in the future.” He added that the company was encouraged by the President’s announcement on loan guarantees and plans to expand the program.

Next door in Wyoming the state legislature is establishing a task force to study development of nuclear energy. The state is a major uranium mining center so legislators are more familiar than their counterparts in other states with the nuclear fuel cycle.

The Wyoming House approved HB 79 Feb 26. A seven person panel will take up the issue covering issues such as incentives, regulatory issues, and boosting training and education for jobs in the nuclear field.

Iowa sees nuclear as opportunity to reduce carbon emissions

A bipartisan group of legislators have reached agreement on a bill that would encourage development of nuclear energy in Iowa. Utilities would be able to add a surcharge to electric bills to pay for location and feasibility studies over the next three years.

Rep. Chuck Soderberg, R-LeMars, said increasing coal and natural gas use will limit the ability of the state to meet carbon emission reduction goals. He added that with regard to the rate increase, the state’ PUC ‘Consumer Advocate’ had signed off on the legislation.

Environmental groups were muted in their opposition partially because another portion of the bill provides incentives for coal-fired plants to swap out coal for biomass fuels.

# # #