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Submission + - Lawsuit Seeks to Halt New York Subsidies for Upstate Nuclear Plants (nytimes.com)

mdsolar writes: A collection of energy companies and trade associations have filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse a decision by the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to subsidize several struggling upstate nuclear plants, arguing that the state overstepped federal authority to regulate energy prices.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, comes a little more than two months after Mr. Cuomo announced a deal to provide hundreds of millions of dollars per year in subsidies to buttress the bottom lines of four upstate plants. The subsidies were included in an order from the Public Service Commission, whose chairwoman, Audrey Zibelman, is named as the lead defendant.

But the suit argues that such action oversteps the federal government’s policy of allowing market forces to set wholesale energy prices, and benefits a single company: Exelon, based in Chicago, which owns all four plants. The plan also effectively makes New York residents pay billions through higher electrical rates to prop up the plants, several of which would have failed without the governor’s plan, the suit claims.

“Unless enjoined or eliminated, these credits will result in New York’s captive ratepayers paying the owners an estimated $7.6 billion over 12 years,” the suit reads.

Submission + - Nuclear Power Plant and Nuclear Lab Hacked (securitytaco.com)

zootsewt1 writes: In two separate incidents, a nuclear power plant and a nuclear lab were targeted for cyber attacks. Director Yukiya Amano from the IAEA disclosed that a nuclear power generation facility came under cyber attack within the last few years. He declined to state which specific nuclear facility was involved. Mr. Amano advised that "This issue of cyber attacks on nuclear-related facilities or activities should be taken very seriously. We never know if we know everything or if it's the tip of the iceberg."

In a separate incident, a nuclear lab in the University of Toyama in Japan conducting research on tritium (used in nuclear power plants), also came under cyber attack earlier this year. The attacker appears to have been able to exfiltrate large large amounts of data, some of which was related to the Fukushima clean-up. It is unclear who is responsible for this attack.

Submission + - Nuclear Fusion World Record: MIT's Alcator C-Mod Tokamak Breaks Its Own Plasma P (ibtimes.com)

mdsolar writes: On Friday, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center announced that they had achieved a key milestone — one that brings us closer than ever before to viable fusion reactors. The MIT team at the Alcator C-Mod tokamak nuclear fusion reactor set a new world record for plasma pressure at 2.05 atmospheres — 15 percent higher than the previous C-Mod record of 1.77 atmospheres set in 2005.

“This is a remarkable achievement that highlights the highly successful Alcator C-Mod program at MIT,” Dale Meade, former deputy director at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, who was not directly involved in the experiments, said in a statement. “The record plasma pressure validates the high-magnetic-field approach as an attractive path to practical fusion energy.”

Submission + - Britain's Nuclear Cover-Up (nytimes.com)

mdsolar writes: If the Hinkley plan seems outrageous, that’s because it only makes sense if one considers its connection to Britain’s military projects — especially Trident, a roving fleet of armed nuclear submarines, which is outdated and needs upgrading. Hawks and conservatives, in particular, see the Trident program as vital to preserving Britain’s international clout.

A painstaking study of obscure British military policy documents, released last month by the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, demonstrates that the government and some of its partners in the defense industry, like Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, think a robust civilian nuclear industry is essential to revamping Britain’s nuclear submarine program.

For proponents of Trident, civilian nuclear projects are a way of “masking” the high costs of developing a new fleet of nuclear submarines, according to the report. Merging programs like research and development or skills training across civilian and military sectors helps cut back on military spending. It also helps maintain the talent pool for nuclear specialists. And given the long lead times and life spans of most nuclear projects, connections between civilian and military programs give companies more incentives to make the major investments required.

One might say that with the Hinkley Point project, the British government is using billions of Chinese money to build stealth submarines designed to deter China.

Submission + - Green, conservative groups align against Cuomo nuclear subsidy (pressrepublican.com)

mdsolar writes: A coalition of environmental and consumer activists say New York electricity customers will be jolted by a "huge tax" stemming from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to subsidize aging nuclear power plants.

Customers of National Grid, New York State Electric & Gas and other state-regulated utilities will see bills climb by more than $2 per month beginning next year — and even more in subsequent years — if the plan stays on track, the critics said.

The proposal is part of Cuomo's plan to ensure New York gets at least 50 percent of its power from renewable sources, including solar and wind, by 2030. He contends it makes New York a national leader in the push to curb climate change linked to greenhouse gases.

But representatives of more than 70 groups — consumer, environmental and conservative — announced this week that they are working in unison to derail the "bailout" of reactors near Rochester and Syracuse.

The subsidy's cost is expected to top $7 billion, according to a projection by the Public Utility Law Project, which is fighting the plan. Household customers would shoulder about $2.3 billion of that, it said, with the rest passed to industry, institutions and school systems.

"This is one of the biggest transfers of wealth in New York state history," said Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Submission + - SPAM: Nuclear Power Rapidly Losing Race With Renewable Energy

mdsolar writes: Two new reports from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirm that nuclear power is rapidly losing the race with renewable energy sources.

EIA's latest "Monthly Energy Review" notes that during the first six months of this year, renewable sources—i.e., biofuels, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind—accounted for 5.242 quadrillion Btus (quads) of domestic energy production. This includes thermal, liquid and electrical forms of energy. By comparison, nuclear power provided only 4.188 quads. That is, renewables outpaced nuclear by more than 25 percent.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - France's Nuclear Power Stations 'At Risk of Catastrophic Failure' (globalresearch.ca)

mdsolar writes: A new review of the safety of France’s nuclear power stations has found that at least 18 of EDF’s units are are ”operating at risk of major accident due to carbon anomalies.”

The review was carried out at the request of Greenpeace France following the discovery of serious metallurgical flaws by French regulators in a reactor vessel at Flamanville, where an EPR plant is under construction.
The problem is that parts of the vessel and its cap contain high levels of carbon, making the metal brittle and potentially subject to catastrophic failure. These key components were provided by French nuclear engineering firm Areva, and forged at its Le Creusot.
“The nature of the flaw in the steel, an excess of carbon, reduces steel toughness and renders the components vulnerable to fast fracture and catastrophic failure putting the NPP at risk of a major radioactive release to the environment”, says nuclear safety expert John Large, whose consultancy Large Associates (LA) carried out the Review.
His report examines how the defects in the Flamanville EPR reactor pressure vessel came about during the manufacturing process, and escaped detection for years after forging. It then goes on to investigate what other safety-critical nuclear components might be suffering from the same defects.

Comment Re: Mature technology (Score 1) 259

It is hard to see how nuclear subsidies help with climate. By the time plants are built, electricity will be too cheap for them to opperate even with subsidies. Solar and wind subsidies are responsible for lowering the cost of electricity by encouraging scale, so why waste money on nuclear subsidies at all?

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