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Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant To Close In 2014

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the watching-the-future-die-before-our-eyes dept.

Power 249

stomv writes "Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is to close in late 2014, about 20 years before its (extended) NRC operating permit expires in 2032. Vermont Yankee is a merchant plant, which means that it sells its energy and capacity on the open New England market. The three reasons cited by Entergy, the owner, for closing are: low natural gas prices, high ongoing capital costs of operating a single unit reactor, and wholesale market flaws which keep energy and capacity prices low and doesn't reward the fuel diversity benefits that nuclear provides."

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GOOD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44695817)

Will help in the battle of Global Warming(scamming)!

It's a shame, but... (4, Insightful)

ggraham412 (1492023) | about a year ago | (#44695819)

... burning hydrocarbons is really cheap.

Re:It's a shame, but... (5, Insightful)

Gareth Iwan Fairclough (2831535) | about a year ago | (#44696031)

... burning hydrocarbons is really cheap.

For now.

Re:It's a shame, but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696203)

No, they will always be cheap, as long as they are available. If you are thinking of making them expensive with taxes, it just means it will be expensive for those who live in that tax jurisdiction. They will still be burned, just somewhere else.

Re:It's a shame, but... (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#44696217)

No, they will always be cheap, as long as they are available.

And availability will decline, ultimately forcing prices up.

Re:It's a shame, but... (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#44696435)

Not for the next 20 years, which is the current life of the reactor.

If we lived in a rational world and nuclear power was the rational answer (I don’t want to get into a debate about current nuclear reactors verse future solar panels right now) the answer would still be to tear down the reactor today and replace it with a more modern one.

Re:It's a shame, but... (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#44696591)

Not for the next 20 years, which is the current life of the reactor.

OK, I'll concede that's likely, though not certain.

If we lived in a rational world and nuclear power was the rational answer (I don’t want to get into a debate about current nuclear reactors verse future solar panels right now) the answer would still be to tear down the reactor today and replace it with a more modern one.

The problem is, we'll shut it down and replace it with coal--well, maybe gas in the best case. As for your proposed debate, yeah I wouldn't want to get into a debate about current nuclear vs future solar panels either ;-)

Re:It's a shame, but... (4, Informative)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#44696891)

Actually, Vermont is building out more and more solar capacity, and also wind (with some resistance), and cow power (methane digesters). A lot of our power comes from Hydro-Quebec. I don't know of any new coal plants being proposed—I expect they would see massive resistance.

The "flaws" in the market that Entergy is complaining about are that nobody wants them here, so nobody is giving them preferential treatment, whereas we are giving solar, methane and wind preferential treatment, generally on a voluntary basis. For instance, my wife and I pay a ~14% premium to get cow power rather than nuclear, and we generate most of our power on-site with solar, but relying on Green Mountain Power to satisfy our nighttime needs rather than using batteries.

Vermont opposed renewing the permit, but the NRC overrode us. We refused to certify the plant for continued use, so the federal government overrode local law, on the basis of conversations legislators had outside of the legislature, which I thought was pretty lame. So unfortunately there is no love lost between Vermonters and Entergy, and that's no doubt part of why it's been expensive for them to continue to do business here.

Re:It's a shame, but... (3, Insightful)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#44697055)

Comparing nuclear power vs. solar power is kind of like comparing apples to oranges. You yourself kind of hit it on the head about nighttime battery power.

Under the current grid you can get 10% to 20% of your power from wind & solar. After that things break down. Economic storage is a nut that is yet to be cracked (and in my mind one of the key factors holding back the industry). That is why you need base power from nuclear, coal or hydro.

I would also question you on why you are paying 14% more for cow power. Is it to reduce greenhouse gasses? The debate is still going if cow power helps or not. For most people adding another 6 inches of insulation in the attic would be cheaper and has a higher impact.

Re:It's a shame, but... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#44697033)

the answer would still be to tear down the reactor today and replace it with a more modern one.

At any particular time with any sort of thing that gets better over time, you can make the argument that its better to ditch what you have and invest in the new tech. Ie, getting a new car for the better milage. But obviously at some point you have to sit on what you have in order for it to be economical-- you cannot save money by buying a new car every year for the lower gas and maintenance costs, because the sunk investment kills you.

Re:It's a shame, but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696357)

"No, they will always be cheap, as long as they are available."

I don't think you understand what "always" means.

Re:It's a shame, but... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#44697087)

Few people do [juliansimon.org] , in spite of repeated counter-inuitive predictions that came true over and over again. He's currently body-slamming the Peak Oil crowd, the latest incarnation of this 1970s nonsense.

As physical constraints tighten, in a free economy, people will produce alternatives, called substitutions, all along the use chain. Net effect is they keep ahead of he shortage curve, and things get cheaper and cheaper -- sans government market interventions like rationing and (market-limited) licensing.

Re:It's a shame, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696271)

"But only for nowwwww" /AvenueQ

Re:It's a shame, but... (4, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44696337)

for centuries, as that's how much supply we have. bet those anti-nuke greenies are very happy. one pound of natural uranium supplies the energy of 16,000 pounds of coal, and our "spent fuel" is actually a gold mine of energy to get six or more times the yield again while at the same time transforming it to short lived wastes. Used in breeder, one pound thorium has the energy of 300 lbs. uranium or 4,800,000 pounds of coal! there's a real solution to driving technology, civilization and quality of life forward. not burning a fire like hominids did a 400,000 years ago.

Too bad the folks in Fukishima can't eat fish..... (2)

duckintheface (710137) | about a year ago | (#44696467)

like their ancestors did 3 years ago.

Re:Too bad the folks in Fukishima can't eat fish.. (2)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#44696731)

They can still eat fish - they just get it from somewhere else.

Re:Too bad the folks in Fukishima can't eat fish.. (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#44696975)

Somewhere far, far away, yes. The offshore contamination in Fukushima prefecture doesn't just affect people who live there, you know. Fish don't pay attention to legal boundaries.

Re:Too bad the folks in Fukishima can't eat fish.. (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#44697009)

How many fish species migrate hundreds or thousands of miles? Genuine query.

Re:It's a shame, but... (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#44696943)

Yes, we're really happy. (I assume by "greenies" you mean citizens of the Green Mountain State.) Of course, decommissioning the reactor will probably release more radioactivity into the environment than operating it did, but in the long run this is good news for the region. The middle of a major agricultural producing state is a really dumb place to put a nuclear reactor. We produce a shitload of solar, and are putting in more, and we produce a lot of power with methane digesters (there is no shortage of manure in Vermont). And Hydro Quebec's prices have been competitive with Vermont Yankee. So yes, this is really good news from a Green Mountain State citizen's perspective.

It would of course be a shame if this resulted in burning more coal, but in practice I don't see that happening. Some power companies do use diesel backup generators; that concerns me more, but given that VY has been having trouble selling power in Vermont, I suspect this isn't a real issue—there is _no way_ that diesel would be cost competitive with nuclear, with all the subsidies nuclear gets.

Re:It's a shame, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696113)

Temporarily. I suppose a company does have to make a profit and can't exactly wait a decade or two for prices to spring back around. But increasing prices for hydrocarbon fuels are inevitable eventually.

Re:It's a shame, but... (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#44696989)

Prices for solar are dropping, though, and Vermont has been aggressively pursuing carbon-neutral sources for power. This is the "market flaws" they cited in their announcement. We green mountain boys aren't so keen on shoring up their broken business model at the cost of our farms.

Re:It's a shame, but... (1)

spectrokid (660550) | about a year ago | (#44696193)

...burning hydrocarbon is the energy source where the biggest part of the cost is payed for by society. Here, fixed that for ya!

Re:It's a shame, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696403)

Cheap? Don't steal athmospheric oxygen for this cheap burning. Find another source. Oh, and keep the carbon dioxide, you're not allowed to dump it into the air. Is the carbon still cheap compared to ugly windmills ?

Re:It's a shame, but... (4, Insightful)

dj245 (732906) | about a year ago | (#44696429)

... burning hydrocarbons is really cheap.

Particularly Natural Gas. For the purposes of argument, let us disregard any environmental concerns for a moment and look at what is happening in the US-

1. Natural gas is cheap in the US. Really really cheap. It is at historical lows. Not only that, but it is much cheaper compared to the rest of the world. The US natural gas price is 1/4 the price that Europe is paying (wholesale, before taxes), and 1/3 the price of even Russian natural gas. Natural Gas is stupidly, unbelievably cheap. Coal power stations are no longer competitive based on fuel costs + labor costs + relative efficiency.

2. The vast majority of new power stations (by Megawatt) in the US are, and have for the last 10 years, been natural gas. There was a "mini coal boom" in 2007-2012 but this only added a couple of gigawatts to the grid, and there are no orders for new coal power stations.

3. Nearly all natural gas used in the US is produced in the US or in Canada/Mexico. Shipping natural gas using methods other than pipelines is prohibitively expensive (for the North American market). It is energy-intensive to store, compared to oil or coal which can just be deposited on a ship. This means that if China found massive quantities of cheap natural gas, North America can not benefit from the low cost.

4. Thanks to deregulation, in most areas of the US power plants are built based on cost/KW in the near term. Subsidies are taken into account which leads to some green technologies being used, but for the most part we don't built coal-burning plants or nuclear power stations "to diversify the generation mix". The cheapest option (now) is taken. Power generating companies might worry about fuel price risk, but they aren't building coal power stations to reduce that risk.

What happens when the cheap American gas runs out, or demand begins to become large enough to influence the price? The US would then be saddled with hundreds of power stations using a fuel which is suddenly 3-4 times more expensive than it used to be. The consequences for the economy will be disastrous.

Re:It's a shame, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696617)

I just fear the decision to go with natural gas for everything is going to hamstring us eventually. It might be cheap for now using fracking methods, but I'd give that 2-5 years at most before speculators move in and keep the price artificially high like how oil is done (the US is at 1996-1997 levels of consumption.) I'm just waiting for an Enron-like company to step in, do really nothing, but add 30-100% to nat gas prices in about a year or two, similar to how copper's price is now permanently higher.

Re:It's a shame, but... (2)

Zalbik (308903) | about a year ago | (#44696833)

What happens when the cheap American gas runs out, or demand begins to become large enough to influence the price? The US would then be saddled with hundreds of power stations using a fuel which is suddenly 3-4 times more expensive than it used to be. The consequences for the economy will be disastrous.

Well it's a good thing hydrocarbons won't "suddenly run out"

Don't get me wrong, I think we should be seriously cutting down on the number of dead prehistoric plants that we burn for fuel, and looking at all other alternatives (nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, etc). My point is more that:

1) We have time to make this transition

2) We should use this time to invest in new technologies. As hydrocarbons become more expensive, governments should be subsidizing the alternatives, so that these alternatives are proven and ready by the time we need them.

3) There is going to be a transition period where were are still primarily using hydrocarbons. This is ok

4) Mistakes will be made with the new technologies (e.g. Fukushima). This doesn't mean we should stop using them....it means we should use them more wisely. We also have made mistakes with the existing technologies (e.g. BP Gulf Oil Spill), but we keep using those.

5) Alarmism doesn't help the cause of getting off of fossil fuels. Absurd statements like "fuel suddenly costing 3-4 times what it used to" just make people disregard the real concerns of incremental inflation due to fuel costs, and climate issues to due burning fossil fuels.

Re:It's a shame, but... (2)

dj245 (732906) | about a year ago | (#44697089)

What happens when the cheap American gas runs out, or demand begins to become large enough to influence the price? The US would then be saddled with hundreds of power stations using a fuel which is suddenly 3-4 times more expensive than it used to be. The consequences for the economy will be disastrous.

Well it's a good thing hydrocarbons won't "suddenly run out"

Don't get me wrong, I think we should be seriously cutting down on the number of dead prehistoric plants that we burn for fuel, and looking at all other alternatives (nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, etc). My point is more that:

1) We have time to make this transition

5) Alarmism doesn't help the cause of getting off of fossil fuels. Absurd statements like "fuel suddenly costing 3-4 times what it used to" just make people disregard the real concerns of incremental inflation due to fuel costs, and climate issues to due burning fossil fuels.

The price of natural gas is incredibly volatile. [eia.gov] Saying that the cost could triple or quadruple is not an absurd proposition. This price for this commodity has frequently doubled and halved in the space of a year. Natural gas in the US currently is overabundant- supply and demand doesn't have much effect on the price. That will change at some point. It is harder to conserve industrial natural gas (compared to automotive gasoline) since the costs trickle down to consumers over a significant period of time. Everything will get more expensive but it may not be immediately clear (to consumers) why.

Furthermore, you can't replace hundreds of power stations in a couple years. There isn't the engineering capability or millwright manpower to run all those projects, and the OEMs can't supply that many machines anyway. There are restrictions all along the supply process, from the forging delivery time/throughput to the large lathes to the large (1000ton) cranes which are required to assemble this kind of machine. None of that capability can be built up quickly, and throwing money at that problem won't provide immediate results.

Re:It's a shame, but... (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44696835)

What happens when the cheap American gas runs out, or demand begins to become large enough to influence the price? The US would then be saddled with hundreds of power stations using a fuel which is suddenly 3-4 times more expensive than it used to be. The consequences for the economy will be disastrous.

You make it sound like someone is going to turn off the spigot one day. When prices become unbearable, we'll go back to the cheaper options; even nuclear if it's viable.

Re:It's a shame, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696961)

On the bright side, natural gas plants spool up and down very fast to meet changing demand. So as a complement to some future solar/wind plants - which suffer from frequent outages when the sun is down or the wind is low - they'll still be useful, running 10-20% of the time.

Re:It's a shame, but... (2)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#44696993)

Not only is it cheap, but the human cost is nice and far away, and many people feel that it is their own fault for living in poor areas.. thus if they just worked harder they could live somewhere like the people in Vermont do.

Re:It's a shame, but... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#44697013)

Im sort of surprised, I had understood nuclear to be cheaper once the initial investment had been sunk.

Anyone know how easy it is to revive a plant like this later if the market changes?

All about the money (4, Interesting)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year ago | (#44695833)

Please don't read too much into this, it's a straight economical decision: "The company noted that the estimated operational earnings contribution from Vermont Yankee was expected to be around breakeven in 2013, and generally declining over the next few years. "

Re: All about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44695875)

Its a bad news as the nuclear power is most eco friendly

Re: All about the money (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44695891)

except for the part where they warm the river waters to the point of killing a lot of the life in there

Re: All about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44695905)

yes, dumping excess heat into river waters is certainly worse than dumping proprietary fracking chemicals into river waters

Re: All about the money (1)

Ice Tiger (10883) | about a year ago | (#44695973)

Germany seem to be on the path to avoiding both.

Re: All about the money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696169)

by buying all their power from France?

Re: All about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696223)

Hey, don't be so sarcastic; they're buying from Russia too!

Re: All about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696237)

Well they were still a net exporter in 2012, so I put it to you that, sir, are an uninformed and indeed lazy fool.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323611604578398420710992106.html

Re: All about the money (1)

Tx (96709) | about a year ago | (#44696381)

No, by burning coal [bbc.co.uk] .

Re: All about the money (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#44697045)

We're pretty strongly and effectively opposed to fracking in Vermont. I used to live on the Connecticut river south of VY, and it kept ice from forming on the river, which really changes the ecosystem, so that's a real concern. If we were switching to natural gas, that would be a problem, but we aren't.

Re: All about the money (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#44697093)

proprietary

Somewhat off topic, but this such a scare-word. Why exactly would a non-proprietary chemical be better? What makes it proprietary, and how do you know its proprietary?

Maybe we should start using FOS fracking chemicals?

Re: All about the money (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44695933)

So don't use natural bodies of water for cooling?

Re: All about the money (1)

rioki (1328185) | about a year ago | (#44696549)

The water is not the problem. The simple trick you employ is to use coiling basins, that cool the water back to normal levels. But then you can use that water straight again...

In addition, this is a problem that every power plant has that basis their power generation on heating water to drive turbines; including solar.

Re: All about the money (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44696601)

Sure, I am not suggesting water is the issue. I am suggesting using a river is the issue. Like you mention using man made cooling reservoirs is the solution. The bean counters however don't like that as it means they can't externalize this cost.

Re: All about the money (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#44697065)

Solar thermal, perhaps, except that solar thermal generally uses a high-temperature fluid for heat transfer, not water. Solar electric doesn't generate excess heat. I don't know of any solar thermal plants in Vermont.

Re: All about the money (4, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about a year ago | (#44696195)

One of the biggest nuclear plants in North America is about 80 miles from where I live, and is not adjacent to any river or other large, natural body of water...

You don't have to dump water into a river or stream if you design your plant to not need that source of water...

Re: All about the money (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44696373)

there are alternative ways of cooling

Re: All about the money (2)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#44696531)

Easy solution there is to co-locate a fish hatchery w/ the nuclear power plant and use the warm water from the plant to keep the hatchlings comfortable.

Re: All about the money (1)

Ice Tiger (10883) | about a year ago | (#44695959)

Its a bad news as the nuclear power is most eco friendly

Really? I thought the waste products were a bit messy and expensive to contain until they decay.

Re: All about the money (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44695983)

It is expensive, not you can do it in an eco friendly manner, well if they would actually start to use yucca it would be better..

Re: All about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696045)

But your energy density is just a tad higher.

http://xkcd.com/1162/

Re: All about the money (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about a year ago | (#44696075)

Reprocessing, low in volume and concentrated so relatively easy to manage.

As compared to gas drilling, which is resulting in widespread distributed environmental damage. It just doesn't attract as much attention because a single gas incident is just a drop in the bucket - the problem is that regulation and enforcement are so lax in the gas drilling industry that all the drops in the bucket amount to a downpour.

Re: All about the money (3, Insightful)

Bugler412 (2610815) | about a year ago | (#44696101)

a couple thousand pounds of radioactive waste over the life of the plant is a hell of a lot easier than the 800 TONS A DAY of flyash you need to dispose of from a similarly sized coal station.

Re: All about the money (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44696353)

not in a smart reactor design, wastes that decay in decades rather than tens of thousands of years can be produced. We have to get off the stupid 1950s reactor designs and onto the proper ones that as a bonus cannot melt down even if power fails to cooling system

Re:All about the money (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696067)

Operational earnings generally declining because the State of Vermont instituted a 100% tax increase on this reactor alone. They completely singled out this business in an effort to shut it down. It is 100% a NIMBY situation driven by environmentalists in a liberal state where taxpayer money and economic sense are no object.

Re:All about the money (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#44697035)

Cite? If true, it is curious that the energy company did not bother to mention the "100% tax increase" in the linked press release from them, in the section "Why was this decision made?" Nor did the linked Forbes article - but then Forbes must be in bed with Greenpeace I suppose?

Re:All about the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696299)

There's also an element of capacity and cost. Nuclear power has a lot of highly expensive fixed costs associated with it, so it's generally much more economical to run at 80-90% capacity or higher, below that it becomes vastly more cost inefficient. So the trick for a merchant reactor is that on any given day they need to sell most of their capacity to make money; if they only sell about 50% of their capacity then they're losing money that day.

Re:All about the money (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#44697015)

I think this interpretation is unlikely to be true. We've been trying really hard in Vermont to get Vermont Yankee shut down, and I think it's been quite expensive for them. We've been working on making our energy infrastructure independent of Vermont Yankee, and we've done a good job. So yeah, you can call it economics, but what it really is is an effective decision on the part of the people of Vermont to stop using nuclear power by voting with our pocketbooks.

Great. (0)

spacefight (577141) | about a year ago | (#44695871)

It's a start. And then, watch how long the dismantling goes and how high the costs will be end the end - and watch very closely who foots the bill...

Re:Great. (2)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about a year ago | (#44696047)

It's a start. And then, watch how long the dismantling goes and how high the costs will be end the end - and watch very closely who foots the bill...

Vermont Yankee has $543.2 million already set aside in a decomissioning fund. Current estimates of the cost to decomission are about $620 million [gazettenet.com] , meaning that the current fund is about 12% short of the projected cost.

Re:Great. (1)

spacefight (577141) | about a year ago | (#44696125)

Thanks for the figures - do you know who will fund the deficit? The taxpayer like in many european countries?

Re:Great. (4, Informative)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about a year ago | (#44696155)

Thanks for the figures - do you know who will fund the deficit? The taxpayer like in many european countries?

Read TFA. The NRC is requiring Entergy Nuclear to provide a letter of credit to cover the shortfall.

Re:Great. (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#44697091)

Practically speaking, OP is probably correct in assuming that in the long run, the state of Vermont or the Feds will be stuck with some substantial costs. If they have to, Entergy will probably declare bankruptcy or get their local legislators to relieve them of the responsibility to pay the full cost through some bit of legislative chicanery.

Re:Great. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696895)

Thanks for the figures - do you know who will fund the deficit? The taxpayer like in many european countries?

Because in all cases, the mere thought of having anyone pay any sort of taxes is scaryscary and doubleplusungood. Right. Fucking modern society. Who needs it? I'll build my own modern society, with blackjack and hookers! In fact, forget society!

Cheap electricity? (1)

charles05663 (675485) | about a year ago | (#44695887)

Living in Vermont I can tell you that electric prices are not cheap. Too bad the electric companies don't pass the saving to the consumer. In my area, Central Vermont Power was purchased by Green Mountain Power and my power bill went up 50% overnight.

Re:Cheap electricity? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44696071)

http://fairewinds.org/media/in-the-news/engineer-says-state-could-face-expensive-clean-up-if-vermont-yankee-closes [fairewinds.org]
"$200 million bill to replace its condenser"
http://fairewinds.org/media/in-the-news/report-says-vermont-yankee-not-generating-enough-cash [fairewinds.org]
"a quarter of billion dollars in repairs" ~ post-Fukishima modifications and condenser..

Free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44695897)

"wholesale market flaws which keep energy and capacity prices low and doesn't reward the fuel diversity benefits that nuclear provide"

Boo hoo, free market isn't fair to me.

Re:Free market (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44696001)

I dont see a boo hoo in there, just a rational for shutting down the plant, however you bring up a good point, should the free market system reward destroying the environment, or should regulators have a say in that?

Re:Free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696221)

"just a rational for shutting down the plant".

The word you are looking for is "rationale".

HTH. HAND.

Re:Free market (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44696529)

No, I just forgot to insert the word reason.. It happens when I am doing 3 things at once.

Re:Free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696945)

No, I just forgot to insert the word reason.. It happens when I am doing 3 things at once.

Then perhaps you should stop trying to do 3 things at once? Maybe? Just a thought, man, don't need to bust my chops over it.

And if your answer is "I can't", perhaps you should, depending on the circumstances, analyze what went wrong with your life that led you to this requirement or get professional mental help?

Re:Free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696509)

The wholesale market flaws being referred to are government intervention and manipulation of the market by unjust taxation.

Re:Free market (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#44697103)

I don't know, I suspect 100% taxation doesn't even begin to cover the externalities that a nuclear power plant imposes on its neighbors. Funny how those externalities never get called "free market manipulation" when they are granted to nuclear power companies by government fiat.

Re: Free market (1)

hsmith (818216) | about a year ago | (#44696971)

Only a complete idiot would say the energy market is "free." Nuclear power is the most regulated industry in America. Derpy Derp.

This just in (1)

koan (80826) | about a year ago | (#44695899)

"low natural gas prices" the price of natural gas just sky rocketed, but we will make it cheaper for a while if you let us frack your water, because... in the end that's all that happens, all your drinking water gets fracked.

I guess that's why Bush bought all that land over one of the World's largest fresh water aquifers.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/oct/23/mainsection.tomphillips [theguardian.com]

http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2010/04/13/the-guarani-aquifer-a-little-known-water-resource-in-south-america-gets-a-voice/ [columbia.edu]

Enough fresh water for 200 years, that's the real Bush legacy.

Re:This just in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696055)

And Obama is letting it happen [mcclatchydc.com] ! That will be his legacy.

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant To Close 2014 means.. (1)

Steve_Ussler (2941703) | about a year ago | (#44695909)

Energy prices will skyrocket shortly afterword’s

Re:Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant To Close 2014 mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44695991)

Umm... they're closing the plant because their production costs are too high to compete on the open market.

Re:Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant To Close 2014 mean (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696097)

I think what's Steve is getting at is that the other energy sources will raise their prices now that they no longer need to undercut the nuclear plant.

Re:Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant To Close 2014 mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696627)

Public utilities are regulated by government forces. If this happens it will be because the government allows it to happen. Too many people around here think that public utilities can just decide how to conduct business and roll with it. Totally incorrect. They have task masters who keep them in check. Just keep that thought in mind the next time your bills start to go up... someone at the top (who probably has their finger in the pie) let this happen to you.

split wood not atoms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44695965)

now thats a hard core enegry policy... http://www.reformer.com/portlet/article/html/imageDisplay.jsp?contentItemRelationshipId=4051933

Re:split wood not atoms (2)

mellon (7048) | about a year ago | (#44697117)

Hardwood certainly burns longer. But it's a crappy substitute for clean energy sources. Those signs would be funny if they weren't so sad.

The funny part: (2)

sabbede (2678435) | about a year ago | (#44695969)

Vermont hippies have been trying to close that plant forever. Now, they're getting their wish, and smacked in the face with burning more fossil fuels. Maybe this will wake some of them up to the environmental realities they have been too short sighted to recognize. It probably won't. But I don't care. Screw those hippies. (I didn't like living in VT)

Re:The funny part: (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#44696389)

one pound uranium == 16,000 tons coals. one pound thorium == 300 pound uranium == 4,800,000

clear to me what the smart way forward is.

Re:The funny part: (1)

thaylin (555395) | about a year ago | (#44696555)

For clarity sakes you did not mention in what way they are ==, is it in damage to the environment, ability to generate power, what, is it cost per kw production..

Re:The funny part: (1)

Ioldanach (88584) | about a year ago | (#44696911)

one pound uranium == 16,000 tons coals. one pound thorium == 300 pound uranium == 4,800,000

For clarity sakes you did not mention in what way they are ==, is it in damage to the environment, ability to generate power, what, is it cost per kw production..

Power plants typically take the heat generated by their fuel, which must then be converted into electrical energy, generally by heating water to steam to turn turbines. With that considered, the kWh below is of the heat output. Conversion to electricity is within the usual turbine efficiencies.

  • 1kg of uranium can generate 24,000,000 kWh
  • 1kg of coal can generate 8 kWh
  • 3,000,000kg of coal can generate 24,000,000 kWh
  • Which is to say, 1kg uranium = 3,000,000 kg coal

Then there's the fly ash problem. Fly ash can be 100 times as radioactive as nuclear waste, per kWh generated, and much of it goes up a flue. Nuclear waste is entirely contained unless there's a spill, and spills are tightly monitored. A coal plant produces about 8% of the input's weight as fly ash. Therefore, that 3,000,000kg of coal produces 240,000kg of fly ash. The coal industry desperately wants you to believe that fly ash is harmless, but it contains numerous toxins and if used near water sources will leach heavy metals into the water supply. Nuclear waste, by contrast, is well contained and small. Nuclear plants produce a bit more waste in output relative to input, because the radiation gets into the surrounding materials which then have to be managed as well as the fuel, but we're talking an input of 1kg of fuel generating perhaps 2-10kg of waste, versus coal's 240,000kg of waste for the same kWh of fuel.

Excellent summary (4, Insightful)

nycsubway (79012) | about a year ago | (#44695981)

I've heard this story on NPR, which tends to be known for accurate reporting and lack of sensationalism. This was an excellent summary on Slashdot. I hope the editors, or what's left of them, continue to pick stories that are factual and not sensational. The comments on Slashdot resulting from those type of stories are often more readable too.

For the story itself, it's interesting to see the business side of nuclear and the real reasons why plants are built and decommissioned. ie, its not always about environmentalism or NIMBY. Nuclear is a decent way to generate power compared to fossil fuels because the nuclear by-products can be contained more assuredly than greenhouse gases, assuming that all of the environmental factors are taken into account. Those environmental factors however are what make it difficult to accept because its very expensive to ensure everything is contained.

Waste-disposal costs (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44696105)

I'd be interested to see a comparison of the costs of nuclear waste storage with those of carbon sequestration. Nuclear energy would perhaps look more competitive then.

Re:Excellent summary (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696443)

NIMBY has something to do with it though. Environmental activists, of which there are many in Vermont (and that's an understatement), have traditionally despised anything that wasn't wind, hydro, or solar. They have protested the plant from its inception. Recently, when the plant was getting ready for its license renewal, the state senate voted to block the board from considering license renewal. That was 7 years ago. The battle has been long and drawn out and in those 7 years there have been incidents of releases of 100 times the federal limit of tritium, detection of cesium-137 nearby (a fissile product), and several shut downs to repair problems. Their license expired with the state last year. Entergy sued and won as recently as 15 days ago, but how much more resistance will the state put up?

I'm sure market conditions were a big factor here, but I'm also sure that the unpredictable legal troubles from the NIMBY's was a factor too.

Re:Excellent summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696751)

It is also the case that nuclear plants are far more heavily regulated than the shale gas they compete against. Hydrofracturing is rather lightly regulated as to extraction processes, well construction, and chemical injections, at least relative to nuclear plants, who need regulatory authorization to change the toilet paper roll.

That isn't to say either nukes or fracking are subject to the "right" level of regulation. But if you have two industries competing, and there is a large regulation disparity, that factor is also going to alter the competitive landscape.

What about the leaks? (4, Informative)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year ago | (#44696175)

Much of the high operating cost is probably related to the Tritium leaks and other maintenance problems. The legislature tried to force the plant to close but failed. Ultimately, this plant needed a lot of maintenance and it is probably a good sign that we are willing to close down leaky plants rather than just keep renewing their licenses and running them into perpetuity. One of the common complaints with nuclear plant politics is that they keep running them long after their usable lifetime, which is a pretty big environmental risk. It's just too bad that we aren't building a new one in its place.

A Perfect Site (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696211)

This will be a perfect site for a new nuclear facillity after they decommission and clean it up.

Who's ready for rolling brownouts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696293)

And higher energy prices? We're all screwed, we just don't know it yet.

I'm super pro-nuclear but ... (4, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | about a year ago | (#44696359)

Vermont Yankee is the oldest running plant. It should be decommissioned in favor of newer designs.

Part of the dysfunction of the current nuclear regulatory regime is that it's so expensive and difficult to open a new plant, that we end up with an older set that has a worse operating-cost and safety record than could be achieved with new technology. It's a bit like setting new-car safety and economy requirement so high that people continue to repair and drive their decades-old models -- sure it looks good on paper, but the reality is a net decrease in safety and economy.

So yeah, Vermont Yankee, please shut it down. And let's build something from the last few decades to replace it (and maybe some of the other 60s-era designs) which will undoubtedly be a huge safety increase.

Vermont Yankee: lying incompetent (2)

Petronius Arbiter (548328) | about a year ago | (#44696451)

Vermont Yankee is also a lying incompetent organization.

  1. They denied that there were tritium leaks although they knew. Then they said that they were unable to locate the leaks' source (and so couldn't fix them). IIRC, they also denied that the tritium was reaching the Connecticut River.
  2. A few years ago, a wooden cooling tower collapsed from lack of maintenance (i.e., wood rots). Do you want to trust an organization that cannot maintain a simple wood structure with running an obsolete nuclear reactor?

Re:Vermont Yankee: lying incompetent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696923)

So--you would hire a carpenter to run a nuke plant?

Vermont gov't opposes nukes (3, Interesting)

nerdbert (71656) | about a year ago | (#44696513)

It's not like Vermont hasn't been doing its best to stop Yankee from operating. They've tried to deny the nuke plant a license (www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20130814/NEWS03/308140006/Vermont-Yankee-focus-shifts-to-Public-Service-Board-after-appeal-court-ruling) and have been battling Entergy for years about operating the plant and has been escalating the costs of operating Vermont Yankee.

The government of Vermont has done its level best to kill the plant and it's succeeded. Good or bad, you decide, but it's a case of representative democracy getting what it wanted.

This is because the customer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696577)

You and me have no excess capacity IE cash. We can only jump on the cheapest thing we can get.
When we switch to bloom boxes our country will be safer from attack also.
But gone will be the grid and its market manipulations.

Doesn't add up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44696615)

Hard to believe their excuse when the 'Northern Pass' project at $1.1Billion, or more by now, is still trying to be pushed through.

Your telling me that an existing power plant can't supply demand and needs closing, but a MASSIVE new project is more economical?

This is bullshit greed, and politics. Infrastructure, demand, and capacity are in place. Someone isn't making enough money, so they're throwing in the towel.

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