HB 440: NUCLEAR POWER GENERATION AND DISTRIBUTION

A bill that has been introduced in the Utah House would place reasonable restraints on the Public Service Commission in allowing the licensing of nuclear power plants in Utah.  Whether you are for or against nuclear power, it is still prudent to consider the items which this bill addresses.

Here is the full text of the bill. http://le.utah.gov/~2009/bills/hbillint/hb0440.htm

Note particularly section 6 which states:
100          (6) Subject to the provisions of this section, the commission may not certify a nuclear
101      power corporation unless the commission finds that:
102          (a) there is a federally licensed facility in the United States with adequate capacity to
103      dispose of high-level nuclear waste, as defined in Section 19-3-102 , from the nuclear power
104      plant; and
105          (b) the proposed nuclear power plant is economically advantageous to ratepayers based
106      upon:
107          (i) a comparison to other feasible power alternatives;
108          (ii) the existence of a reliable and adequate nuclear fuel supply;
109          (iii) the costs for construction, operation, and decommissioning of the nuclear power
110      plant and nuclear waste disposal; and
111          (iv) facts relevant to the economic viability of the nuclear power plant.

Here are some uncertainties that this bill would address:

  • We cannot be assured of a reasonably priced supply. We currently get most of our uranium from Canada and by downblending highly enriched uranium from Russia. The price of uranium ore has also fluctuated from under $50 per ton to  over $150 in the past 2 years.
  • Costs for specialized concrete work and for specialized machined parts (available from a single foundry in Japan) are skyrocketing.
  • Plants currently being constructed in France and Finland, using designs favored by the US nuclear industry are years overdue and hugely overbudget.
  • There is no national repository for spent nuclear fuel.
  • Even with massive subsidies, loan guarantees and liability caps provided by the federal government, the default rate is still 50%.  Private investors will not invest in nuclear without these guarantees.
  • States building nuclear power plants have been allowing law changes to allow utility companies to pass on the costs of building plants to ratepayers prior to the plants being operational, and even if the power will be sold out of the state.

Please write to your Representative and Senators and ask them to support this bill.  You can find their email addresses here: http://le.utah.gov/maps/amap.html I have included sample text below.

Rep. Hendrickson,

I would like to ask you to support HB 440 Nuclear Power  Generation and Distribution, introduced by Rep. Seegmiller.  This is an important step in preventing the reckless adoption of nuclear power without consideration of the costs and risks. There is no National Repository for spent nuclear fuel, and there is not likely to be one any time soon.  Nuclear Power has considerable visible and invisible costs, particularly in the uncertainty of uranium availability and price, regulatory requirements, construction, fuel disposal, decommissioning, and cleanup from accidents both minor and severe. The length of time it takes to bring a nuclear plant online, and at such high cost, does nothing in the near to mid term in addressing energy needs or transitioning from coal.  Our money is better spent on  quickly bringing on line solar and wind generating capability in small and mid-size installations that can immediately start the transition from coal, and provide jobs in the manufacture and installation of components.

I look forward to hearing from you on this issue.

<your name and address>

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