ArjunMakhijani

After listening to his testimony today before Minnesota’s Senate Environment and Energy Committee…

Video (weird write up, omitted the most important witness!!!), see 10:06:

*Lifting Moratorium on New Nuclear Power Plants

Arjun Makhijani – Minnesota Senate E and E Committee 03-03-2015

… we got another dose when Dr. Makhijani graced us with his presence at Fiesta Mexicana, with tales of Nuclear Waste Confidence that lit up every burn-up and zircaloy cladding wonk around the tables!  It’s really depressing stuff, so it was better to discuss this dreadful and so unbelievable nuclear situation in a dedicated misery-loves-company group.

In his testimony, he’d brought up the dangers of moving forward with nuclear plans where there is “Construction Work in Progress” for utilities to recoup funds spent on construction long before it is in-service, if ever, as is happening with the Vogtle plant.  So I took a stroll through our statutes, long familiar with our 2005 Construction Work in Progress give-away to Xcel on transmission, and found that, sure enough, it is an option for Minnesota utilities:

Minn. Stat. 216B.16, Subd. 6a. Construction work in progress.

To the extent that construction work in progress is included in the rate base, the commission shall determine in its discretion whether and to what extent the income used in determining the actual return on the public utility property shall include an allowance for funds used during construction, considering the following factors:

(1) the magnitude of the construction work in progress as a percentage of the net investment rate base;

(2) the impact on cash flow and the utility’s capital costs;

(3) the effect on consumer rates;

(4) whether it confers a present benefit upon an identifiable class or classes of customers; and

(5) whether it is of a short-term nature or will be imminently useful in the provision of utility service.

Xcel did finally come out and admitted their support for removal of the nuclear moratorium.  When considered in light of their e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report_2014, there’s a trajectory that I see, and wish I didn’t: Xcel could build a new nuclear plant on the ratepayers dime and sell it on the market using their new transmission that we’re paying for, making Minnesota an electricity exporter!

Tonight, we discussed the Nuclear Waste Confidence decision, which is a “No-Confidence” decision, the word “confidence” has been removed from NRC lexicon.  Well, there is that other meaning of “confidence” to consider…

So on that happy note, I’ll have mango margaroodie dreams about the Pt. Beach cask explosion and the current task of changing the seals on those 20 year old TN-40 casks!

PtBeach_FS122-Figure-3-pb-cask-02

Prairie Island nuclear plant

That’s “our” reactor, the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, here in Red Wing, it’s within the city limits (which were expanded to include the plant).  I represented Florence Township from 1995, when Xcel, f/k/a NSP, applied to put nuclear waste in Florence Township under the “alternate site mandate,” and that went on, and on, and on, until they finally withdrew their application at the NRC in … what, 1999?  2000?  That’s one I thought would never end.  But that’s the thing about nuclear, it’s never over.

QUICK — CONTACT THE LEGISLATORS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS MISSIVE.

There are two bills before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee TOMORROW:

  • SF306 is simply worded, deleting the Minn. Stat. 216.243, Subd. 3b prohibition of new construction of a nuclear plant and changes it to “Additional storage of spent nuclear fuel” and over the previous language that states: “Any certificate of need for additional storage of spent nuclear fuel for a facility seeking a license extension shall address the impacts of continued operations over the period for which approval is sought.”  It’s authored by Kiffmeyer, coauthored by Dahms and Anderson.

SF536So we have a blanket repeal of the nuclear construction prohibition, and a specific opening for a Certificate of Need for a nuclear generator at the Monticello site.

Authors contact info is linked above, and emails for Senate Energy committee members and the authors are also listed below.

Whether it’s targeted as a replacement for the Fukushima Daiichi style GE plant, or whether it’s to add and operate a second reactor, WHY?

First, there’s no need.  There is a glut of electricity, as our friend, Xcel’s Ben Fowkes said, when they could no longer keep up the GROW GROW GROW fiction.  Here’s the Seeking Alpha transcript of the XEL Earnings Call, January 31, 2013. 

So I think the economies are in decent shape across all our jurisdictions. Doesn’t necessarily mean it translates to high sales growth. And that’s consistent with our forecast. I mean, we’re not anticipating that we’re going to see a tremendous rebound in sales, even as the economies start to improve. I mean, I think, that’s our new normal, frankly.

For last year:

Finally, NSP-Minnesota sales increased six-tenths of a percent driven by growth in the number of residential and small C&I customers and usage increases in the small C&I class.

From Xcel’s IRP (Docket 15-21), p. 45 of 102:

Historic&ForecastPeakDemand_IRPp45And here’s what they had to say about that (note they do NOT go back further than 2011, so we don’t get to see the 2000-2010 numbers):

We forecast a period of relatively flat growth such that our median base peak will increase only 0.4 percent in each year of the planning period…

That chart is NOT consistent with the 2014 SEC 10K filing, which shows a 2014 peak demand of 8,848 MW (info below is linked, see p. 9 at 10-K link):

Capacity and Demand
 
Uninterrupted system peak demand for the NSP System’s electric utility for each of the last three years and the forecast for 2015, assuming normal weather, is listed below.
 
                       

That lower number is consistent with the downward trend of the 2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment, now showing growth rates at lowest levels on record (note that it has NEVER been close to the CapX 2020 “forecast” of 2.49% annually):

2014 NERC-Wide Demand

And here’s the picture for MISO from the 2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment:

MISO Peak Demand Reserve Margins

2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment, p. 38 (or p. 46 of 115 pdf).

Also from the 2014 SEC 10-K link:

Demand2

So we don’t “need” it, there’s no talk of a new nuclear plant in their recently filed IRP.  So why???

And the “WHY?” may be clearer when taken into context with last week’s hearing at House Energy, where the intent, in part, behind legislation there was to make Minnesota an exporter of energy.  Again, WHY?  Why make the state an exporter of energy?  And if we do what would that do for our rates here?  How does that fit with Xcel’s well funded plan to institute its e21 Initiative, and how does that fit with Xcel’s desire to use ratepayer money to find other market options?  The House bill would let natural gas plants be built without a Certificate of Need, whether by an IPP or regulated utility, with the key being that they are selling into the MISO grid, and not for Minnesota native load.

But nuclear is SO expensive!  First, there’s an immediate example of nuclear construction cost overruns right here in Minnesota, at the Monticello nuclear plant, where they went way beyond what was approved in the Certificate of Need:

Xcel management blamed for cost overruns at Monticello

So what was that about?  Costs more than doubled, increased by a factor of 2.33!!!  From the article:

The project to extend the plant’s life and increase power output ballooned from an estimated $320 million in 2008 to $665 million when it was completed last year. However, the final price tag likely will rise to $748 million, including construction-in-progress financial costs.

And let’s look at new construction, the first new nuclear plant in the US in 30 years:

C&U disputes Southern Co. claim for $247 million in penalties for cost overruns at Plant Vogtle

The cost punchline on the Vogtle plant?  Southern, Westinghouse and CB&I are already in court over previous cost overruns on the project, which is currently expected to cost $14.5 billion.

Here’s that other project:

Shaw Power Group, Westinghouse, face cost issues at S.C. project.

The cost punch line here?  The NRC is expected to act soon on the Summer license. Summer is projected to cost about $9 billion.

Building new plants?  Well, NEI has some info, BUT it’s outdated, nuclear has not caught up, and this is the most current I can find on the site (HERE’S THE WHOLE REPORT):

CapitalCosts2013So please explain — why would anyone want to build a new nuclear plant?

  • There is no need.
  • They cost so much that it’s unreasonable to even consider, and is the definition of imprudent!

Why are Reps. Kiffmeyer and Anderson trying to make this a possibility?  Is this for real?  Is it a diversion from some other issue?

CONTACT INFO FOR LEGISLATORS:

To contact the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, go to COMMITTEE LINK, because many MN Senators have form access, not direct emails.  Boo-hiss…  Here are the emails listed, but go to link to see the buttons for the Senators with form access only:

sen.john.hoffman@senate.mn; sen.david.osmek@senate.mn; sen.michelle.benson@senate.mn; sen.david.brown@senate.mn; sen.lyle.koenen@senate.mn; sen.julie.rosen@senate.mn; sen.bev.scalze@senate.mn; sen.matt.schmit@senate.mn; sen.bill.weber@senate.mn

Senate authors: sen.mary.kiffmeyer@senate.mn; sen.gary.dahms@senate.mn; sen.bruce.anderson@senate.mn

SF306 is authored by Kiffmeyer, coauthored by Dahms and Anderson, click names for links!

SF0536 is authored by Anderson only.

HF338 is sponsored by O’Neill ; Newberger ; Garofalo ; Howe ; Baker ; McDonald ; Nornes, click names for links!

Xcel demand down, down, down

September 28th, 2014

arrowdown

I’ve been saying this for so many years, that electric demand is down, down, down, and instead, Xcel Energy (and all the others) have been saying it’s going UP, UP, UP (even though Mikey Bull said years ago that they wouldn’t need power for a while), and they’re applying for and getting Certificates of Need for all these permits for utility infrastructure that are obviously designed to market and sell the surplus, and the Public Utilities pretends to be oblivious (I say “pretends” because I cannot believe they’re that unaware and uninformed.).

This is a must read:

Xcel Compliance Filing_CN-13-606_20149-103251-02

Here’s the short version from Xcel:

XcelPeak

2024 is expected to be about what it was back in 2007, the industry peak year.  DOH!  But note this — there’s a “small capacity surplus in 2016.”  DOH!

And given the surplus which we’ve known has been present and looming larger, that’s why they then ask for withdrawal of the Certificate of Need for the Prairie Island uprate because it isn’t needed (and really, that was just what, 80 MW or so?  Or 80 MW x 2 reactors, 160 MW?).  If they don’t need that small uprate, why on earth would they need so much more?

DOH!

But what do I know…

Hollydale Transmission Line was clearly not needed, and they withdrew that application…

CapX 2020 transmission was based on a 2.49% annual increase in demand, and for Hampton-La Crosse in part supposedly based on Rochester and La Crosse demand numbers, yeah right, we know better, but that was their party line.  Again, DOH, it didn’t add up to needing a big honkin’ 345 kV transmission line stretching from the coal plants in the Dakotas to Madison and further east, but who cares, let’s just build it…

ITC MN/IA 345 kV line — the state said the 161 kV should be sufficient to address transmission deficiencies in the area, but noooooo, DOH, that wouldn’t address the “need” for bulk power transfer (the real desire for the line).

Here’s a bigger picture of the bottom line (I’m accepting this as a more accurate depiction, not necessarily the TRUTH, but close enough for electricity), keeping in mind that these are PROJECTIONS, and that they’re adding a “Coincident Peak adjustment” which should be included in the “peak” calculations):

Xcel Resource Need Assessment 2014

Notice the only slight reduction in coal capacity, just 19 MW, nuclear stays the same, a 320 MW decrease in gas, a 128 MW reduction in Wind, Hydro, Biomass, which I hope includes garbage burners and the Benson turkey shit plant , slight increase in solar of 18 MW, and Load Management also a slight increase of only 80 MW.  This is Xcel Energy with its business as usual plan, which has to go.  We can do it different, and now is the time.

Will someone explain why we paid so much to uprate Monticello, and paid to rebuild Sherco 3?

DOH!

From the archives:

500+ give LS Power a piece of their mind

October 20th, 2009

2012 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment

May 7th, 2013

PJM Demand is DOWN!

November 15th, 2012

Prairie Island nuclear plant

While cruising the MISO queue for wind projects in Illinois, this popped up, new MISO Queue numbers J371 and J372, 3,664 MW filed near the end of June.  Oh my…

NewNuclear

But I don’t think it’s what it looks like.  I think they’re planning to shut them down.  There’s been a lot of buzz about it, they auctioned off the power… but didn’t, big FAIL, hence the buzz.  ???  They’re due for a report out in August, will keep an eye on the queue.

 

New nuclear plant in Utah???

March 16th, 2014

BlueCastleNuclearPowerPlantLayout

Whoa! Looks like I’ve been paying attention to transmission in the Midwest.

Blue Castle Holdings: Nuclear power proposal along the Green River in Utah

This caught my attention as part of a transmission deal, see Salt Lake Tribune article below — this nuclear power plant was proposed quite a while ago, but my take is that it isn’t exactly going anywhere. 

My concern is that it just might sneak through anyway.  Why?  Because they’re making allowances for connection to the grid, and the state is caving in this “compromise” that’s not in the public interest:

Transmission line fight ends in compromise

TransWest had said it planned to build one near Delta at some point, but that assurance wasn’t enough for Utah power companies like Blue Castle Holdings, which is laying the groundwork for the state’s first commercial nuclear plant near Green River, and some solar companies.

What’s this nuclear power plant?  It’s the Blue Castle Project, planning a

“Clean energy resources…” — how dare they say this, given nuclear history in Utah. And yet, last November, they won a challenge and can take water out of the Green River, a major tributary to the Colorado River:

Here’s the judge’s decision — the opinion shows his misunderstandings about nuclear power and electric economics:

Decision regarding water access and use by nuclear power plant

Read this Blue Castle press release about an MOU where it’s claimed:

Page Electric Utility (PEU) provides electricity services as a municipal electric utility in Page, Arizona and the surrounding area.  By 2019-2020 PEU projects that it cold need as much as an additional 30 MW of base load electric resources.

30 MW as a justification for a NUCLEAR PLANT?  Yup, they’re nuts, this proves it!