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Upton reports: "The world's largest operator of nuclear power plants is dumping its stake in American reactors, turning its focus instead to wind and solar power."

EDF is selling its stake in Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Maryland. (photo: NRC)
EDF is selling its stake in Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Maryland. (photo: NRC)


Big Nuke Company Decides Renewables Are a Better Bet in the US

By John Upton, Grist

03 August 13

 

he world's largest operator of nuclear power plants is dumping its stake in American reactors, turning its focus instead to wind and solar power.

French utility company EDF announced this week that it will sell its stake in Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG), which operates five nuclear reactors in New York and Maryland.

EDF cited cheap power produced by fracked natural gas as the big reason why it's abandoning its American nuclear facilities. But the company said it will now focus its American business strategy not on fossil fuels but on renewable energy. From Reuters:

"Circumstances for the development of nuclear in the U.S. are not favorable at the moment," [EDF Chief Executive Henri] Proglio said.
International Energy Agency analyst Dennis Volk said CENG's eastern U.S. power plants were located in some of the most competitive power markets in the country, with high price competition, growing wind capacity and cheap gas.
"It is simply not easy to invest in nuclear and recover your money there," Volk said.
Proglio said EDF would now focus on renewable energy in the United States. EDF employs 860 people in U.S. solar and wind, and since 2010 its generating capacity has doubled to 2.3 gigawatts. It manages another 7 gigawatts for other companies.

The French utility's pullout comes as nuclear power plants shutter in California, Florida, and Wisconsin. The price of operating nuclear power plants has risen as the plants have grown older. Hopes of nuclear power being "too cheap to meter" were long ago dashed. Mark Cooper, a senior fellow at the Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment, recently published a 40-page obituary [PDF] for the nuclear industry. From an article published a couple of weeks ago in The Plain Dealer:

Cooper, who thinks nuclear energy's cost overruns and frequent shutdowns have always made it more expensive than it appears, recommends that the industry develop an orderly closing plan over the next few years, avoiding the rate chaos that unplanned closings might create.
"In 2013, more (nuclear) capacity retired early than in any year of the U.S. commercial nuclear sector," he said in a press briefing. "In recent months, four reactors have been closed in early retirement, five major up-rates (increases in generating capacity) were cancelled.
"The bottom line is that the tough times the nuclear power industry faces today are only going to get tougher. Over three dozen reactors in almost two dozen states are at risk of early retirement. And a dozen face the greatest risk of being shut down," he said.

Still, we won't be rid of nuclear energy any time soon. About 100 reactors are still operating around the country, and two more are being built at an existing plant is in Georgia.

And even closing down retired nuclear power plants is a long and costly affair. The shutdown and cleanup at the Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin could cost $1 billion and take more than 50 years.


 

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+25 # teachnet 2013-08-03 14:13
"...even closing nuclear power plants is a long and costly affair. The shutdown and cleanup at the Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin could cost $1 billion and take more than 50 years."

And Wisconsin and the rest of us have neither. Let alone, ($1 billion + 50 years)x 100. What happens when we can't close them down? They close themselves. It's called meltdown. And, it lasts for 100,000 years.

But, let's keep on with business as usual. By all means! After all, we're in a recovery.
 
 
+6 # 666 2013-08-04 08:33
call me a skeptic (please!) but the subtext here reads like this:
- we're not making enough $$, so we'll take our toys and go home. you can clean up our mess. Oh, and btw, when we take these plants off line, rates will go up to cover the increasing demand. so you're screwed one way or another.
- don't forget alec is fighting hard to make alternative energy non-profitable.
- anytime someone in govt or business acts like they are playing nice, ask "cui bono?" before your believe them.
 
 
+29 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-03 17:28
Wow! Capitalism can be decent, when indecency is unprofitable.
 
 
+24 # Walter J Smith 2013-08-03 17:31
Well, the investors in Georgia would invest in slavery if they thought the GOP was about to win the White House again.
 
 
+6 # MidwesTom 2013-08-03 21:50
The tax breaks for wind and solar make it a no risk and almost no cost investment. Investing in each has large economic benefits, literally every power company is investing. However, natural gas is the driver slowing bit coal and nuclear. If the Administration allows the export of liquified natural gas, expect prices to rise.
 
 
+6 # Barkingcarpet 2013-08-03 23:18
Hmm. EDF cited cheap power produced by fracked natural gas as the big reason why it's abandoning its American nuclear facilities. whoever buys can make a hefty guaranteed prophet decommissioning nukes, provided they do not blow up first, and even then, it is we, the people who foot the bill.....
 
 
+6 # reiverpacific 2013-08-04 10:50
Ah: a FRENCH company!
Well, I shouldn't have expected the likes of Westinghouse to turn it's decades-long policies along, as they've spent so much buying up Congress and part of the Senate to launch their new generation of "safe" nuclear plants.
This is doubly interesting as France get a really high percentage of it's power from nuclear.
perhaps they are following their neighbor Germany's example re' solar and Scotland in leading the way in wind power.
 

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