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Central New York Nuclear Plants Struggle To Avoid Financial Meltdown

samzenpus posted 1 year,2 days | from the keeping-the-lights-on dept.

The Almighty Buck 270

mdsolar writes "As recently as four years ago, nuclear power companies were planning to spend billions of dollars to build a new reactor in Oswego County, alongside three existing nuclear plants. Then the bottom fell out. Natural gas-burning power plants that benefit from a glut of cheap gas produced by hydrofracking cut wholesale electricity prices in half. Now the outlook for nuclear power plants is so bleak that Wall Street analysts say one or more Upstate nuclear plants could go out of business if conditions don't change. Two Upstate nukes in particular — the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County and the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in nearby Wayne County — are high on the watch list of plants that industry experts say are at risk of closing for economic reasons."

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So... (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,2 days | (#44990979)

I see 'Wall Street analysts' and 'meltdown' in the same sentence. I should probably just bend over and subsidize somebody, to get it over with, right?

Who's it going to be this time?

Re:So... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991169)

Just ObamaCare you idiot, whats with this site and its anti-anything? Stupid liberals.

Hey lets just do away with electricity unless its Solar? Right? Can't we mommie? My 2nd grade teacher told me electricity in any form is evil but I can't stop using it.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991227)

Who's it going to be this time?

Gas. You're already subsidizing gas in that the government is providing a free license to trash the place with fracking and will eventually (i.e. you eventually) have to pay for the cleanup. They get to keep the profit.

The invisible hand: grabbing you by the balls since 1764.

Re:So... (2, Insightful)

jbmartin6 (1232050) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991713)

government is providing a free license to trash the place with fracking

Smith's 'invisible hand' has no relation to government shielding favored businesses from the costs of their process. If you are going to blame some for grabbing you by the balls, please take a look down and see whose hand it is.

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991787)

mith's 'invisible hand' has no relation to government shielding favored businesses from the costs of their process.

Depends on how you define "cost". It doesn't cost you anything to dump whatever crap you want into the air and water unless government regulation imposes a cost on you. Your results may cause others to incur costs. The thing is the invisible hand of the free market doesn't actually work well in this situation because it's a situation where people can save money by making others incur costs indirectly.

Re:So... (1, Insightful)

mspohr (589790) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991841)

The "invisible hand" includes all of the factors which influence decisions. This includes both private profit motives as well as government regulations.
So in the case of fracking, the fact that the government has created a favorable legal environment (loose regulations, shielding from liability, tax incentives, etc.) all factor into the decision by the private sector to invest in this profitable activity. The fact that the government is doing a poor job of regulation (exemption from clean water laws, for example) helps push the decision to drill and frack.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

green is the enemy (3021751) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991865)

Letting a short-term downturn in natural gas prices ruin other established energy producers just strikes me as unwise. Reliable energy infrastructure, like nuclear power, takes decades to build up. Natural gas prices are volatile. It may be cheap now, and may easily double or quadruple again in the near future for unforeseen reasons. Nuclear power is not volatile like this.

Re:So... (0)

Cryacin (657549) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991237)

Well, at least this time if it's subsidizing the guy who's making sure that the large pool of what were once uranium fuel rods exuding Cerenkov Radiation don't happen to spill out particles into your drinking water, rather than bailing out the guy that spirited away your mother's pension fund.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991507)

Because fracking fluid and methane in your drinking water is so much healthier?

Yay for gas power! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44990983)

cheap gas produced by hydrofracking cut wholesale electricity prices in half

If this trend holds up, soon we'll have energy too cheap to meter!

Re:Yay for gas power! (5, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991127)

My reaction was, really? I haven't seen my electric bill go down by half...

Re:Yay for gas power! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991241)

And you probably won't...the utility companies will come up with some justification for not passing the savings along to consumers.

Re:Yay for gas power! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991309)

Hey as long as Republicans can rant on about welfare to the poor, we're all good ignoring the humongous sums spent on welfare for the rich, right?

Re:Yay for gas power! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991693)

But rich people deserve money, because they've shown their virtues by becoming rich, which enables them to buy the best government they can afford.

It's not welfare, it's entitlement!

Re:Yay for gas power! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991259)

nuclear power was sometimes promoted as soon 'too cheap to meter' a few decades ago.

Re:Yay for gas power! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991299)

no shit. ours goes up every year, and is three times more than what it was just 10 years ago.. and that's after getting new, more energy-efficient appliances and lighting.

Re:Yay for gas power! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991863)

So is that your bill, your rate, or your power usage?

My electric company can give me a spreadsheet with how many kwh I've used in a month for a several year basis, but doesn't give me the rate or the other charges.

That popping sound (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44990985)

is the minds of the Slashdot nuke fanbois blowing a gasket.

Re:That popping sound (0)

cpicon92 (1157705) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991087)

What, exactly, is a nuke fanboi?

Exactly as it says on the tin. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991125)

A fanboi for nukes.

Get a coffee: your brain isn't awake yet.

Re:That popping sound (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991205)

It's someone who disagrees with the parent poster, and therefore needs to be called names.

Re:That popping sound (2)

Chrisq (894406) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991251)

What, exactly, is a nuke fanboi?

Oppenheimer

Re:That popping sound (4, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991779)

You misspelled "Teller".

Re:That popping sound (1)

AkkarAnadyr (164341) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991791)

Edward Teller

Re:That popping sound (5, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991301)

is the minds of the Slashdot nuke fanbois blowing a gasket.

Not at all. Of course you can produce energy cheaper by burning fossil fuels than with nuclear, because fossil fuel plants are allowed to externalize most of the costs of energy production, such as pollution. Once these externalities - such as turning every coastal city into a New Orleans - is taken into account, nuclear power is cheapest and safest.

Re:That popping sound (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991375)

I think we may have found the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field.

Re:That popping sound (4, Insightful)

beamin (23709) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991379)

Until, of course, you have a situation like Fukushima.

Decentralized renewables are cheapest and safest, when all risks and external costs are factored in.

Re:That popping sound (2, Informative)

serviscope_minor (664417) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991431)

Until, of course, you have a situation like Fukushima.

Decentralized renewables are cheapest and safest, when all risks and external costs are factored in.

You are entitled to your opinions but not your own facts. Do you know how I know you're making up facts completely? Because the fact you've made up is not true.

It's very easy to check: google "deaths per kWh".

Nuclear comes up as the safest even when including Chernobyl and Fukushima. Even safer than decentralized renewables.

The thing with decentralised renewables is that they require construction on a vast scale because renewables are quite diffuse. Construction is inherently dangerous and that leads to more deaths.

Re:That popping sound (1)

zztong (36596) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991735)

Deaths per kWh is very interesting and informative, though I would point out the person you replied to seems to have had a larger scope of cleanup costs in mind. I wonder how the facts stack up on that. I tried to google some of those, but didn't have much luck finding something that summarized it. There are plenty of sources discussing the costs of individual clean ups.

Re:That popping sound (1)

bobbied (2522392) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991727)

Decentralized renewables are cheapest and safest, when all risks and external costs are factored in.

Huh? Problem with renewables is that they are hugely expensive to field on industrial scale. Not to mention that their environmental impacts are usually way under estimated. Somebody declares some system "Green" and presto, it's somehow devoid of environmental impact? Nothing is further from the truth. Not to mention that renewables are usually not reliable. We don't know when the sun will shine or how fast the wind will blow, at least not with enough certainty to know how much power we can count on getting from that wind farm or solar array. Electricity is extremely difficult to store efficiently so we have to generate it the instant we use it. What happens when the wind stops or a cloud drifts over at the wrong time? (Can you say blackouts..) So you have to *overbuild* renewables by 1 or 2 times capacity, which adds to it's already too high costs and environmental impacts but you won't here proponents of "Green" technology talking about that little problem...

Green technologies still have environmental impact and significant costs over the long term. Most folks thinking they are "going green" don't get this and the folks taking your money don't offer the information. However, for most of these "green" power sources, when you include the costs of producing and maintaining the equipment and the environmental impact of all this activity, there are few renewable sources which are cost effective. Further it's not even close to being a positive ROI on just the money you spend. Further, many technologies are as destructive (or more so) to the environment they are supposed to protect.

One such example is the hybrid car. Over the long haul, if you consider the added costs of including the batteries and the environmental impact of producing and dealing with them as waste there is a negative benefit. Sure, you may burn less gasoline while you own it, but building and disposing of the thing creates a huge environmental mess over the non hybrid version of the same car. If it makes you feel better to spend more money over the life of the car, I guess that's up to you, but don't fool yourself into thinking you are being "green" by doing so. Don't count on the salesman to tell you all this, he just wants you to spend the extra $15-20K on the car.

Now if you want to go all electric, walk, bike or take public transportation, THEN you can pat yourself on the back for being Green, but how many *actually* would take a car only capable of going 50 miles between 6 hour charges or want to get on a buss?

Re:That popping sound (4, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991505)

Yup. I live in upstate New York.

I'd rather have a nuke plant a mile away than gas drilling operations commencing anywhere upstream on the Susquehanna, even if I pay more, because with gas I know I'll be paying longterm for the contamination. Nuclear's track record per unit of energy produced is stellar compared to the track record of constant failure and environmental contamination the gas drillers have established so far.

Re:That popping sound (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991717)

I used to live a half hour from the Oswego county plant and now I live a half hour from the Wayne county plant. I've heard people bitch and moan about fracking, wind farms and even hydro in the area but never once have I heard a complaint about nuclear like you hear elsewhere.

Re:That popping sound (1)

mspohr (589790) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991889)

Nuclear power has had a magnificent run of externalizing most of its costs (federal liability insurance, all of their basic research costs, uranium mining and refining costs and financial subsidies for construction).
In spite of all of these subsidies and benefits, it still is not "economic". The nuclear power has a negative learning curve when the cost of plants has been rising for years... unlike most industries such as solar and wind where the costs have been dropping dramatically.

Economic Reasons (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44990987)

Isn't that what the Free Markets are about? The most economically efficient survive and the least economically efficient do not?

And when the gas boom ends - end it will end eventually - then possibly energy prices will be high enough that not only will nuclear become feasible again, but the modern and much safer reactors can be built.

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991019)

Two words: lead time.

Re:Economic Reasons (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991057)

You mean lead boots?

Re:Economic Reasons (4, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991101)

Isn't that what the Free Markets are about? The most economically efficient survive and the least economically efficient do not?

Slap quite clean but unpopular energy with MASSIVE regulations, force them to clean up every single bit of pollution, etc. On the other hand, let the dirty variant pollute all they want, literally dumping everything into the air. Because, you see, campaign donations are not bribes but wisely taking part in the political process, right?

Re:Economic Reasons (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991149)

quite clean(*)

* Clean in terms of other emissions/waste, but not so clean when it comes to the waste it actually produces.

Re:Economic Reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991211)

except that spent fuel isn't waste unless the fucking politicians prohibit reprocessing, ensuring that it is inded waste. Thank you, Jimmy Carter. Right now, burning old russian cores is affecting the price of fuel, but when that's done in a few years, reprocessing used fuel rods would be a very "good idea" i it were allowed.

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991513)

To be fair, a lot of the radioactive waste that a nuclear power plant kicks out is not fuel. Most of it is low level stuff, but some of the items like exposed steel will be radioactive for quite some time.

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991585)

Fair enough, though I'm more talking about the fuel waste. Every power plant is going to have decommissioning costs (and as you say nuclear adds to this because of radiation).

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991617)

Thank you, Jimmy Carter.

Which Reagan repealed in 1981. Makes you wonder why the commercial industry hasn't gone back to making weapons grade plutonium again...

Re:Economic Reasons (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991177)

Clean is washing powder, not nuclear. That stupid propaganda has failed and nuclear would probably have a better reputation if it had never been tried since the person on the street is very much aware that nuclear has cleanup costs too.
The US nuclear industry committed suicide anyway by lobbying against development of smaller reactors and thorium. At this point nobody is going to put up the capital for the huge 1970s dinosaurs that are their preferred option.

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991605)

Yep. Thorium LFTR is the nuclear reactor of the future. Small, affordable, and by design will never have a runaway meltdown. Ever. Period. Fukushima and Three Mile Island would have never happened if they had been based on Thorium LFTR designs.

It's just not sexy for the NRC and the military because it doesn't breed weapons-grade plutonium, and the nuclear waste it miniscule in comparison to the Uranium cycle reactors used throughout the industry today, on the order of 10 times less. Additionally, the radioactive end-product has a half-life of a couple centuries, and not 10,000 years.

Re:Economic Reasons (2)

dcollins (135727) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991859)

"Yep. Thorium LFTR is the nuclear reactor of the future. Small, affordable, and by design will never have a runaway meltdown."

Reminder: Thorium reactors cannot be built for at least another 40 years at the most optimistic. (India's about halfway there since starting work in the 1950's.)

"According to replies given in Q&A in the Indian Parliament on two separate occasions, 19 August 2010 and 21 March 2012, large scale thorium deployment is only to be expected “3 – 4 decades after the commercial operation of fast breeder reactors with short doubling time”.[66][31] Full exploitation of India’s domestic thorium reserves will likely not occur until after the year 2050.[67]"

Link. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991927)

LFTR is the nuclear reactor of the future.

Maybe. There have been may clever reactor designs, such as pebble bed and energy amplifier, that sounded great but didn't work out that well. Don't misunderstand me, of the proposed newer reactor designs LFTR sounds like one of the best. I'm also aware that an LFR (not thorium, but very similar) was built in the 60's and worked well. It was killed by Nixon. Damn shame we've lost 40 years when we could have tried to develop it. I'm all for full-bore research on LFTR and other promising reactor designs, but you can't call LFTR the "nuclear reactor of the future" until a lot more work is done.

Re:Economic Reasons (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991819)

force them to clean up every single bit of pollution, etc

To this date, the nuclear industry have not actually "cleaned up" a single gram of any of the spent nuclear fuel ever produced.

They've just neatly stacked it, waiting for someone else to deal with it.

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991945)

The coal burning power plants have not even done that.

What exactly do you suggest they do?

Re:Economic Reasons (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | 1 year,2 days | (#44992095)

What exactly do you suggest they do?

Stop billing themselves as "clean" until they figure out what to do with their hoarded mess.

Assumed Economic Reasons (5, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991145)

Isn't that what the Free Markets are about? The most economically efficient survive and the least economically efficient do not?

No.

Corporations are pictures of inefficiency. Ask any employee of one.

You see financial success and assume (for no reason) that that success must be due to a superior product or value.

In America, gaming the system and cheating is now considered S.O.P. for a business....that's **NOT** 'just the free market working'....it's immoral and criminal and we let them get away with it b/c of people like you who look only at the superficial appearance and just assume from there.

Stop labeling all financial gain as 'just the free market' and start looking at what is really happening.

The 'free market' is a concept independent of any ONE economic theory...it's a fundamental aspect of human behavior in **all contexts**...even in Soviet Russia they had a booming black market.

Re:Assumed Economic Reasons (3, Funny)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991267)

Viewed superficially, muggers might appear to be extremely efficient.

Re:Assumed Economic Reasons (1)

Delusion_ (56114) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991311)

They were very efficient in Kentucky Fried Movie.

false equivalence (1)

globaljustin (574257) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991349)

Viewed superficially, you might appear to have made a contribution to the discussion.

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991229)

Unfortunately we'll have released another few bazillion tons of CO2 by then.

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

bobbied (2522392) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991793)

Unfortunately we'll have released another few bazillion tons of CO2 by then.

And the problem is? Oh all that global warming theory stuff eh? That theory that has a serious "problem" because it's predictions of huge increases in temperature have been materially incorrect over the last 15 years.

How about we just go back to the 1800's? Everybody turn off their electricity, start driving horses and all that? We can turn back the clock on 2 centuries of public health improvements, do without refrigeration and cell phones right? Right... After all, environmentalists where protesting nuclear power, coal, gas, and all other forms of electric generation up until now.

How about we *think* about the implications of all this before we run off and condemn millions of folks to death...

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991815)

When has global warming predicted huge temperature increases? That's like saying evolution has predicted that a species will evolve into a new species every generation.

Global warming says an average of one or two degrees change over the course of decades. On the short term scale, not much a difference... local weather patterns are still dominant and can cause a harsh winter one year and no snow the following year. Like evolution, global warming is a very slow change over a fairly large (by human standards) time scale.

Re:Economic Reasons (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991993)

Which is what he was doing you idiot. Global Warming is real, you can argue about the cause if you really want. The last 15 years thing is horseshit and you know it.

Nuclear power allows us to live like it is the 2000s and not release trillions of more tons of CO2.

Re:Economic Reasons (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991239)

The energy markets not a mean type of market; there are huge and wildly varying external costs associated with them. Which means either heavy regulations (which characterize the nuke industry), subsidized costs, and/or those burdening the populous/environment directly. It's the name of the game. And big blunders hurt us all in the long run. There's a lot, a lot, a fuggion lot of sunk costs in nuclear plants. And if those costs don't pay themselves back, future financial backers will be more hesitant to lend at similar or lower interest rates. Which means higher energy prices for future plants.

Re:Economic Reasons (2)

saider (177166) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991391)

New designs come from improvements on old designs and from the experiences of the engineers and workers who work on them. If the reactors are shut down and the best of the workers find gainful employment in another industry, we will not have a good starting point for the improvement process. There will be a few old coots who hung around and a bunch of new kids with book smarts and no practical experience.

Hardly a recipe for success.

Re:Economic Reasons (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991929)

So then for a decade or so prices will simply be very high? That is how long it takes to build a nuclear power plant.

Gas is artificially cheap, from the driller who does not have to abide by the clean water act to the power plant burning it that does not have to deal with their pollution. Nuclear could be cheap too if you let them dump their used fuel into the air.

and when the oil runs out? (-1)

globaljustin (574257) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991043)

or gets more expensive?

This move is stupid and shortsighted. Power plants are a 100+ year undertaking...yet they look at profit margins on a matter of months.

Here's a fact no one acknowledges in the energy debate: GAS COMPANIES CAN RAISE PRICES AS MUCH AS THEY WANT

There's no rule saying gas can't be $6.00/gal or more....IF THEY WANT IT THAT MUCH

Obama has nothing to do with gas prices...it is entirely in the hands of the corporations. When we lower their taxes, the prices & profits both go up. Its a swindle pure and simple.

Re:and when the oil runs out? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991143)

Umm, this article is about 'gas' as in 'natural gas', not as in 'gasoline'.

And, as it happens, one of the things that utilities like about combined cycle gas turbine units is that (by power plant standards) you can knock 'em together extremely quickly and cheaply, and once constructed, you can ramp them up and down very quickly indeed.

It's kind of nuts that natural gas is cheap enough that these things would be competing with base-load units; but natural gas plants have been the peaking-load choice for years.

can still raise prices at will (0)

globaljustin (574257) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991231)

Gas companies can still raise prices as high as they want.

Plus, you presented no evidence for your 'quick changeover' claim...for all we know it could be the exact opposite...and there's no logical reason to assume switiching from gas to nuclear would be 'easy' like you describe.

You're finding linguistic faults in my argument b/c that's all you have.....GAS COMPANIES RAISE PRICES AT WILL....nothing you can say is a valid counterpoint to this...

We basically are giving these Gas companies a government subsidy.

Re:can still raise prices at will (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991795)

It's not a linguistic fault, it's the difference between milk and cheese. Both are dairy, but I don't tend to pour milk on my pizza nor do I dunk my Oreos in a glass of cheese. Gasoline and natural gas aren't transported in the same manner, used in the same applications or even measured in the same units.

Re:can still raise prices at will (2)

bobbied (2522392) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991837)

Gas companies can still raise prices as high as they want.

No they can't. Free markets make it impossible for companies to just adjust prices at a whim. As long as you preserve the free market and healthy competition you will generally keep prices as low as possible because no one entity has the final say about what price will be charged.

Now if you are claiming that the government will somehow step in and raise prices... That's possible... But that's not the fault of the evil rich gas production companies..

Re:and when the oil runs out? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991783)

You're right about Obama not having any direct influence... but you'd be incorrect in saying that gas prices are 100% controlled by the gas companies. Get gas in Binghamton, NY and then jump the border to Pennsylvania for gas, just a few miles away, and you'll find the price is roughly $0.20/gal cheaper. The difference has almost nothing to do with gas companies and everything to do with state taxes. A lot of times, if gas prices make a sudden jump up or down, it's because of a change in the state tax rather than a gas company decision.

So sure, gas companies can change prices at will, but if they raise it too much, people will stop buying as much and look to alternatives. We've seen it every time there's been a spike in the price of crude. Likewise, gas companies are not the only thing affecting what the consumer pays for gas... around 10 to 20 percent of it goes to the state.

Also, you're kind of reaching here just to rant about something that's off-topic. Gasoline isn't really used in power plants.

Wholesale rates have bottomed out? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991045)

Am I alone in wondering why the cost to the consumer remains the same?

Re:Wholesale rates have bottomed out? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991115)

What the market (the top 20% anyway)* will bear...

*They're the bastards who set prices for the rest of us

Re:Wholesale rates have bottomed out? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991447)

Consumer costs will be going up when the nukes are spun off as their own 'companies', go bankrupt, and the tax payers are saddled with paying for the security for the remnants of the reactor for the next 50,000 years.

Regulated monopolies (4, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991543)

Am I alone in wondering why the cost to the consumer remains the same?

Power utilities are regulated and the prices they charge to consumers are typically regulated as well. Since in most areas they are a monopoly you should expect them to charge the highest amount permitted by the local regulating body and not a penny less. Not like you can go anywhere else. Where I live I have precisely one option for electricity and one option for natural gas. The power company knows this and behaves accordingly. Even in areas where there is more than one option they basically are an oligopoly which isn't much different from a pricing standpoint. They all know there is little incentive to compete.

Re:Regulated monopolies (1)

captbob2002 (411323) | 1 year,2 days | (#44992063)

The location I live in has "choice" for natural gas and electricity - want to guess on how much we consumers are saving because we have that "choice"?

On the other hand we do reap the benefits have having far less reliable electric service that takes far longer to recover from an outage

I love those feel-good bullshit stories about line crews from other areas going into a storm hit location to help repair the outages....the electric companies have to do this because they have laid-off so many line crews that they can't keep up with maintenance (for companies that still bother with preventative maintenance) let alone storm damage repair.

"Nuclear" and "Meltdown" in the same sentence (1)

techprophet (1281752) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991079)

Next up: "Rather Mundane Story Attempts to Get Attention via Sensational Headline"

Scary (5, Insightful)

gwstuff (2067112) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991085)

So what happens when a nuclear plant runs into financial difficulty? You cut your reactor monitoring staff? Drop to the cheap disaster management plan? Postpone the upgrade of the creaky boilers?

Re:Scary (2)

polar red (215081) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991293)

So what happens when a nuclear plant runs into financial difficulty? You cut your reactor monitoring staff? Drop to the cheap disaster management plan? Postpone the upgrade of the creaky boilers?

when they run into financial difficulty? or when they want to increase their profits?

Decommissioning (1)

sjbe (173966) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991453)

So what happens when a nuclear plant runs into financial difficulty?

It gets decommissioned. Still expensive but less expensive than operating at a significant loss over time. Nuke plants aren't like gas or coal plants where they can be mothballed and then restarted later easily. (I'm sure it's technically possible but apparently very problematic)

Re:Decommissioning (1)

afidel (530433) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991811)

Mothballing a nuclear plant shouldn't be an issue at all, many plants have stayed offline for a year or more due to regulatory problems, if they can be kept offline for one year I can't see why they can't be kept offline for 5 and be brought online in the same manner. It's not like the startup procedure cares how long its been since the last criticality event.

Re:Scary (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991665)

At Vermont Yankee, they tried all three, cutting staff, getting out of requirements to install sirens and deferred maintenance that led to a cooling tower collapse and radioactive materials leaks.

Let's thow some tax money in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991093)

It worked so well last time we did, didn't it?

Re:Let's thow some tax money in! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991315)

the massive subsidies the nuclear sector received, and even still is receiving, dwarfs any subsidies for renewables.

Re:Let's thow some tax money in! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991351)

the massive subsidies the nuclear sector received, and even still is receiving, dwarfs any subsidies for renewables

Yeah, that was my point: it worked so well!

Ahhh, god ol' pork barrel. My preciousss...

I can't lose my job! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991111)

I work in Sector 7G! I'll never get paid better anywhere else!

Two worlds collide (4, Informative)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991215)

Two worlds collide :

In order to plan an energy strategy, you need to look 20-30 years ahead.
In order to avoid financial meltdown, you need to make Wall Street happy before next quarter.

long term view missed, as mentioned (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991249)

If you're concern is global warming and carbon dioxide emissions then the glut of cheap gas due to fracking is actually the more expensive choice in the long run.

Natural Gas Price Volatility (4, Insightful)

jdev (227251) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991343)

The long run problem here is that natural gas prices are highly volatile. Prices are super cheap right now because of a big increase in supply while demand doesn't change much and storage costs are big. Prices may stay low for a few years, but nobody knows what will happen later. If we ramp up electricity production through natural gas though, that will increase demand driving up prices again. When natural gas prices go back up, that could be rough on consumers.

Here's a graph highlighting gas prices over the past 40 years [ourfiniteworld.com] .

Re:Natural Gas Price Volatility (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991775)

That is likely going to come to an end. Synthesis of methane using ultra-cheap renewable energy such as stranded wind will likely stabilize gas prices at a low level going forward.

The key point in this story: (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991347)

"Natural gas-burning power plants that benefit from a glut of cheap gas produced by hydrofracking cut wholesale electricity prices in half." ... while retail electricity rates continued to rise...

Now that my heart has started beating again (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991399)

I would thank you to never use the terms "nuclear plants" and "meltdown" in the same sentence unless you're talking about a LITERAL MELTDOWN.

its not fracking or the market, its superfund. (4, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991423)

nuclear and other power plants should not be allowed construction without adequate consideration of cleanup cost. as it stands, superfund is a joke considering an insolvent or nonexistant subsidiary deprecated after the working lifespan of a reactor just lets the government foot the cleanup bill under the guise that its insolvent or nonexistent.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superfund [wikipedia.org]
in TFA the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant is arguably at the end of its useable lifespan (30-40 years.) Coincidentally so is the Ginna plant. for those keeping track of the joke that is Nuclear Regulation in america, both have been given a 30 year extension despite having gone from megawatt to gigawatt in their installed versus actual capacity. the reactor cleanup cost would likely go to Entergy...who would either declare bankruptcy or drag the government and mohawk energy (a prior owner) into court over potentially responsible party definition as that would determine who has to clean things up. if Mohawk were to declare themselves insolvent, or the PRP could not be identified in court, the entire site would become an orphan share. that means no one has to clean it up but the taxpayer out of the congressional general fund. its lemon socialism.

Entergy likely understands the cost to litigate its way out of a superfund cleanup is way cheaper than actually cleaning a nuclear site and once its absolved of cleanup, it can focus on investing in the gas fracturing movement, which is likely vastly more lucrative than maintaining 40 year old nuclear sites.

Re: its not fracking or the market, its superfund. (1, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991643)

There is an old joke: The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money.

Re: its not fracking or the market, its superfund. (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991703)

A new one applies for capitalism:

The problem with Capitalism is that the plebs eventually run out of money to take.

Re: its not fracking or the market, its superfund. (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991761)

"A democracy fails once plebes figure out they can vote themselves bread and circises" has been sround for 2000 years.

Re: its not fracking or the market, its superfund. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991897)

We can vote ourselves circumcisions with surround-sound? Is that what you were trying to say?

Re:its not fracking or the market, its superfund. (1)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991817)

you forget the hidden costs of coal and oil (in dollars and human life) is astronomical in comparison to nuclear.

So, you're saying... (3, Insightful)

Jawnn (445279) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991483)

...that all the "clean, safe, and cheap" promises were just so much bullshit? And that the hustle still continues now that it's time to pay for cleaning up the mess they made? I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

Fracking isn't legal in NYS (1)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991509)

So where is all the gas coming from?

Re:Fracking isn't legal in NYS (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991633)

Politicians?

Re:Fracking isn't legal in NYS (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991943)

Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Headlines (2)

ssam (2723487) | 1 year,2 days | (#44991721)

If every nuclear story needs 'meltdown' in the title, I propose every natural gas story gets 'explode'. This will help remind us of the thousands of people blown up in oil and gas accidents.

Natural gas, the explosive financial opportunity.

Re:Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#44991873)

Its mdsolar, what do you expect?

this might be good (2)

tatman (1076111) | 1 year,2 days | (#44992115)

I think that this could be good for energy industry because it could open the door to other means for producing energy. Nuclear reactor operators have opposed technologies that improve our energy grid because of the costs associated with running nuclear reactors. But they may have lost the battle anyways.

I think our energy policy that demands big massive producers are they only source of energy is wrong. And its strategically dangerous as well.

For the record, I'm not opposed to nuclear energy. I just don't believe an energy policy solely relying on big business is in the consumers nor countries best interest.

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