Next generation nuclear power is just around the coroner

If the disaster at Fukushima were not enough, it turns out that the perpetually dismal economic profile for nuclear power has gotten even worse.  At the level of sheer business calculation the question about nuclear power plants has always been whether they were even remotely feasible without huge government subsidies as well as the legal regulations (oh, no -- not regulations!) that shifted most of the liability for any nuclear accidents to US taxpayers.  As the nuclear industry and the Obama administration boldly plow ahead with plans for "the next generation" of radiation producing plants and their occasional byproduct --  electricity --,  a significant voice has begun speaking out.  

John Rowe, former CEO of Exelon, the nation's largest producer of nuclear power, has now pulled away the curtain to reveal the industry's wizards frantically twisting the dials on what now seems to be a six decade long failed experiment.  As reported in Forbes, Rowe offered his well-informed, no-nonsense assessment at a University of Chicago conference last week. 

Nuclear power is no longer an economically viable source of new energy in the United States, the freshly-retired CEO of Exelon, ... said in Chicago Thursday.
And it won’t become economically viable, he said, for the forseeable future.
“Let me state unequivocably that I’ve never met a nuclear plant I didn’t like,” said John Rowe, who retired 17 days ago as chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation, which operates 22 nuclear power plants, more than any other utility in the United States.
“Having said that, let me also state unequivocably that new ones don’t make any sense right now.” 
“I’m the nuclear guy,” Rowe said. “And you won’t get better results with nuclear. It just isn’t economic, and it’s not economic within a foreseeable time frame.”

It's always refreshing to hear straight talk from well-placed business peopleToo bad frank confessions of this kind usually arrive a the person is flying skyward on a golden parachute.  (Did I hear the faint echo of the word "suckers!" as the sail vanished over the horizon?)   Why didn't Rowe tell us this before all the excitement about the new nuclear boondoggles in the U.S., like this one in today's news for example?
Scana Corp. has received approval to build two nuclear reactors at its Virgil C. Summer plant in Cayce, S.C., at a cost of US$10.2 billion.
Scana applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2008. The first reactor is scheduled to begin generating electricity in 2017, about a year later than expected because of delays in the NRC's licensing process, the company said in a statement. But the second unit will be commissioned in 2018, a year ahead of schedule.

Don't worry about the national debt or the "austerity" attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, etc.  Just get those big nuke subsidy checks in the mail, Barack. 

For those interested in the mindset of nuclear power and similar obsessions, here's an always reliable handbook.


The "Homeland Security" Boondoggle: $75 billion per year welfare for the rich

                              The boys and their high tech toys at a Homeland Security trade fair

While the poor, disabled, elderly, students, and ordinary working people are being clobbered by budget cuts at the federal, state and local levels, America's two exorbitantly costly gravy trains  --  The Pentagon and its twin brother, Homeland Security -- just roll on and on.

Details about the internal features of these Big Government juggernauts remain largely unreported, sheltered from public debate.  Year after year they float above scrutiny, cherished as the nation's citadels of fear.  It seems that our politicians and much of the citizenry would rather drive the country into bankruptcy than confront the irrational policies and staggering levels of waste these institutions involve. 

On rare occasion some in the press corps bother to ask: "How much are we paying for this stuff and what are we getting for it?"  Thus, an article in the LA Times recently surveyed the $75 billion per year spent on the projects (many of then patently absurd) called "Homeland Security."

"Large sums of Homeland Security money, critics complain, have been propelled by pork barrel politics into the backyards of the congressionally connected. Yet the spending has also acted as a cash-rich economic stimulus program for many states at a time when other industries are foundering.

"Utah is getting a $1.5-billion National Security Agency cyber-security center that will generate up to 10,000 jobs in the state. The Pentagon in July launched bidding for a $500-million U.S. Strategic Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, which likes to point out that former President George W. Bush flew here for shelter after the Sept. 11 attacks."

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Few people in public life want to talk about it -- much of the colossal budget for the Pentagon and Homeland Security amounts to welfare for the rich, e.g., lots of six figure salaries and lots of "research and development" on high tech toys.  When it comes to "addressing America's spiraling debt," welfare programs in this category are never "on the table."

Think of them as "entitlements."