Nuclear? I don’t think so…

November 6th, 2010


A little birdie sent this about “our Stevie,” former Minnesota Asst. A.G. Steve Corneli, now a Senior V.P. at NRG, is in the news.

Corneli said nuclear is established and the existing fleet of nuclear reactors provide the lowest cost power currently on the grid, but there hasn’t been a new plant built in roughly 30 years.
“We actually think that nuclear power has the potential to be the real foundation of clean energy technology,” he said.


Steve Corneli — he was the one who “clarified” that nuclear stranded costs (BIG BIG $$$$ which Northern States Power was claiming were due in the event of deregulation which they were fighting for) was really stranded ASSETS!  Yes, dear readers, you’ve heard this before, but if you haven’t read this report, from the dark ages of 1997, please do, because incorporating this shift in perspective on stranded costs can free your soul!

Corneli on Stranded Assets

And you may remember that dreadful idea on his watch that NRG should put an IGCC (coal gasification) plant in Delaware at its Indian River site with THIS, below, as a site plan, I kid you not:


Oh, my, that instills confidence, doesn’t it!

And so what’s he up to now?  He’s pushing nuclear power, and next to him, there’s the Obama administration pushing nuclear power… and they wonder why we’re “disappointed?”


The fate of nuclear power after midterm elections

Posted on 11/03/2010

by Brian Wheeler, Associate Editor, Power-Gen Worldwide

In the largest shift of power since 1948, Republicans took over the U.S. House on midterm election night. And the nuclear industry could benefit from the Republican takeover as part of the clean energy legislation.

In a statement released the morning of Election Day, Don Gillispie, CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., said that if Republicans won, the other big winner would be nuclear power. Well, we do know that Republicans have won the House and have made up ground in the Senate as well, even though Democrats still hold the majority.

Historically there has been more support from Republicans for nuclear power. But Steve Corneli, senior vice president of market and climate policy for NRG Energy, said there is an increasing awareness from Democrats that nuclear power can be an important part of energy independence and a zero-carbon emission future.

Michigan representative Fred Upton, like many Republicans, is a supporter of nuclear power in the U.S. Upton is also a strong contender to head the House Energy and Commerce Committee; the committee that sees over the national energy policy.

“Through a greater commitment to nuclear, we have a unique opportunity to cut greenhouse gases, provide stability to our electrical supply and create jobs,” Upton told Reuters.

John Boehner (R-OH) is expected to take over as the new Speaker of the House and is also a strong proponent of nuclear power.

“The new Congress will be more pro-nuclear than any Congress we’ve seen in decades,” said Gillispie.

And President Obama continues to promote nuclear power, too.

“There’s been discussion about how we can restart our nuclear industry as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases,” Obama said during a speech the day after the midterm elections. “Is that an area where we can move forward?”

As of now, that seems to be possible. The White House has requested an additional $36 billion in federal loan guarantees for new nuclear plants and it seems that Republicans are likely to support the measure, even with a big focus during the campaign on reducing government spending.

But Corneli said the interesting part is that the important policy measures that are needed to help jump start the nuclear renaissance are the ones with the lowest cost to federal treasury, and those are the federal loan guarantees, “which really don’t cost the treasury anything.”

“Essentially it is self-financing,” he said. “It seems like the stars could be lining up right now for a boost in nuclear power development.”

Corneli said nuclear is established and the existing fleet of nuclear reactors provide the lowest cost power currently on the grid, but there hasn’t been a new plant built in roughly 30 years.
“We actually think that nuclear power has the potential to be the real foundation of clean energy technology,” he said.

Gillispie seems to agree.

“When the history of nuclear power is written, Nov. 2, 2010 will be a major turning point for the industry,” said Gillispie. “It will mark the beginning of a dramatic resurgence for nuclear power.”


Horse’s Ass Award to DNREC’s John Hughes and (not-soon-enough) outgoing Gov. Minner (can’t have Delmarva Power’s Todd Goodman thinking he’s the only one!):


Let’s think a bit here… why this settlement?  What would make it worth their while?


NRG has been belching pollution forever, violating federal rules, violating the Clean Air Act.  For years this has been an issue, Green Delaware at the head of the charge.  There’s been building attention and recently, Citizens for Clean Power filed Notice of Intent to Sue (below).  And now, at the last minute of the Minner administration, DNREC does a deal with NRG that is so slimy, rolling over in a way that is less than a slap on the wrist to NRG and which could be just barely enough to prevent a suit by Citizens for Clean Power.  And what if this had been filed at the END of November to put Markell on notice that he was expected to act, taking away that power to do an end run from Minner’s administration?

Here’s the 60 day notice filed on behalf of Citizens for Clean Power:

IRGS 60 day Letter November 6 2008

Here are some Green Delaware Alerts about NRG’s Indian River Power Plant:

Alert 631 – Delaware needs to stop burning coal

And from the Archives:

Green Delaware Alert 238 – Minner administration proposes reduced reporting of SO2 releases

Green Delaware Alert 302 – Where does Delaware’s mercury come from?

Green Delaware Alert 499 – What problems are fundamental?  Will our legislators tackle them?

Green Delaware Alert 506 – A decision time for power plant pollution in Delaware

For more from Green Delaware on NRG, go to and search for NRG

From the News Journal yesterday and today:

DNREC settles with NRG over Millsboro plant

Millsboro pollution settlement stirs anger

This came over the wire today from Pat Gearity, Citizens for Clean Power, who have been leaning hard on NRG, that’s their mission:

Dear supporters of clean air:

Two months ago, CCP filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue NRG’s Indian River Power Plant for over 5,000 violations of federal law from 2004-2008, including exceedances of nitrous oxide emissions and the opacity standard (a measure of particulate density discharged from the stacks).  By law, DNREC and Governor Minner were also notified.  Yesterday, DNREC announced its own lawsuit against NRG for the very violations CCP has alleged and that the agency has done nothing about since 2004.  Why did DNREC take this action exactly 60 days before CCP could file its lawsuit?  BY ENTERING INTO A TOKEN SETTLEMENT WITH NRG, DNREC AND JOHN HUGHES ALSO ATTEMPT TO BAR THE FILING OF CCP’S LAWSUIT.

On what basis did NRG Indian River solicit DNREC’s legal action to stop CCP’s impending citizen suit?  Under the Clean Air Act, “diligent prosecution” in a court by a state agency precludes a private citizen suit if the agency files before the citizen suit can be filed.

On his way out the door, John Hughes took care of NRG again.  Under a citizen lawsuit, IRPP could have been fined as much as $32,500 per violation and could have been ordered to pay additional funds to mitigate the environmental damage.  Instead, the Secretary and the Agency stepped in to try to stop us for $1.00 per violation and a few token changes, with no environmental mitigation penalties.

NRG’s profits from IRPP make it a mega-million $ “cash cow” for the company.  DNREC’s attempted interference with citizen’s rights is disgraceful.  Change is desperately needed at DNREC.  Please write Governor-elect Jack Markell at:  Jack Markell <> or call him at 302 672-6700. Ask him to appoint a Secretary who will put public health, safety and corporate accountability above industry profit.

Please forward this email to interested persons.  CCP’s 60-day Notice Letter to NRG is attached FYI.

Pat Gearity, Citizens for Clean Power


LEWES, DELAWARE, January 7, 2009 – Citizens for Clean Power charged today that the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is attempting to bar the filing of a private citizen lawsuit against the NRG-owned Indian River Generating Station (IRGS) for over 5,000 violations of the federal Clean Air Act since 2004, by filing its own lawsuit and pursuing only nominal penalties from the company.

On November 6, 2008, the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center, representing Citizens for Clean Power (CCP), provided notice of intent to sue NRG affiliate Indian River Power, LLC, the operator of the power plant (IRGS) in Millsboro, Delaware. On January 5, 2009, one week before CCP could file its case by law, DNREC filed its own lawsuit against Indian River Power. DNREC’s suit mirrors the charges made by CCP.  CCP’s notice letter charged that IRGS has violated provisions of the Clean Air Act, its Title V Operating Permit, and the emission limitations in various federal and state rules
and permits. The letter identified violations of state and federal opacity standards and nitrogen oxide standards from all four operating units at the plant. In its notice, CCP alleged that IRGS committed more than 4400 opacity violations and 771 violations of nitrogen oxide standards dating to 2004, and indicated the suit would seek financial penalties and injunctive relief to ensure future compliance.

“We have complained to DNREC about the pollution from this plant for years, but until our lawsuit approached, DNREC consistently declined to enforce the law,” William Zak, co-founder of Citizens for Clean Power, said. “Despite Indian River Power Plant being the biggest polluter in the state, DNREC has now essentially acted on the plant’s behalf to halt the meaningful deterrence and compliance-inducing injunctive relief we would seek through our suit,” Zak continued.

Each time that Indian River violated its permit and the underlying regulations a separate violation of the Clean Air Act occurred. Under a private citizen lawsuit, each violation can result in maximum civil penalties of up to $32,500.  Proceeding under state law, DNREC’s suit indicates it is authorized to seek financial penalties against the plant between $1,000 and $10,000 per violation. But the reality is
far, far lower. The filed Consent Order from DNREC, agreed to by Indian River Power, features a $5,000 penalty, along with other minor requirements.

“The pattern of opacity non-compliance at Indian River is so extensive that only significant penalties designed to deter future violations and an upgrade in particulate matter pollution controls will resolve the situation,” said Michael Fiorentino of Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center, Counsel to CCP. “At less than a dollar per incident, violating the Clean Air Act has never been this cheap.”

Zak was outraged by word of DNREC’s settlement. “It’s a major slap in the face to the public and particularly to the citizens of eastern Sussex County, who have been breathing toxic pollution from the Indian River plant for more than fifty years, with little or no advocacy by the one state agency charged with protecting them,” Zak said.



As Pat Gearity reports, they’re not done with this yet… stay tuned for the rest of the story!