Friday, February 27, 2015

PUCO rejects AEP plan; FirstEnergy next to plate

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on Wednesday rejected a bid by AEP to guarantee revenue for a coal fired plant in Ohio.

PUCO Rejects Deal

Potential Bad News for FirstEnergy?

AEP notes in a press release that the ruling (wherein PUCO adopted AEP's Electric Security Plan) essentially makes legal the creation of a PPA or Power Purchase Agreement -- the sort of instrument it is believed FirstEnergy seeks for both Davis-Besse (a single unit nuclear plant) and for Sammis (a coal fired plant.)  As can be seen in the above links, some pundits are wondering if the adoption of the concept without actually allowing AEP to do it bodes ill for FirstEnergy; some people, including this author, are wondering if the precedent has not been set for a successful PPA application by FirstEnergy for these two plants.

More information:

PUCO Website - PUCO Adopts Electric Security Plan for AEP Ohio

AEP Responds to PUCO Ruling

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

FutureGen shut down - not Ohio, but interesting

Just after having written a piece for ANS on the future of nuclear in Illinois (which by the way is attempting to build a major grid interconnection with Ohio) and having read a bit about Illinois' plans to build next-generation clean coal, the clean coal project as it stood seems to have been dealt a death blow.

The concept was that carbon captured from the coal burning was to be stored in enormous underground geologic formations of sandstone that can hold the carbon for .. well, forever.  Thus, Illinois - which has a large amount of coal in state which many folks in many walks of life would like to use, for many varied reasons - would be able to continue to burn coal AND would have somewhere to put the captured carbon.

In this link we now see that the whole project has been defunded

So I offer this link not about Ohio, but about Illinois to ask you this question:  Since the project was killed only by the cancellation of US Dep't of Energy funding, is the Dep't of Energy essentially saying it's anti-coal?  Should we.... can we read that into this chain of events?

Does this mean anything for the future of potential clean coal plants in Ohio?  Well, if this is any indication, I am beginning to wonder myself.  After all, we expect .. and SHOULD expect .. Federal money to help develop the substitutes for the energy generation we are going to lose if the EPA Clean Power Rule works as (seems to be) planned to eradicate coal.  Coal  - and all that goes with it, including coal miners, railroaders, utility men - would rather not see this all just get suddenly shut off.  (Although I might note that the railroads are still gridlocked, and the removal of coal from their rails would not necessarily bankrupt them.)  So the Federal government can't just "taketh away and taketh away," leaving us with higher power prices, brownouts or blackouts and loss of lots of jobs.

There are people out there who believe that this sort of thing isn't just happening in a vacuum.  There are those who are asserting that the Administration and the EPA have a clear cut policy to rapidly drive out coal, and drive up energy prices.  The latest weapon, as asserted in the previous link?  Highway funding.  If you can believe that.

So now that we see the larger scheme, is it any wonder DOE cut off funding for advanced coal generation research and development?  Lots to think about.

February 4, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Toledo Blade on PUCO hearing

Offered in the link below is this recent Toledo Blade article on the PUCO hearing on Davis-Besse.

Toledo Blade - Hearing Draws Varied Crowd on Rate Plan

The article is pretty well balanced, but I would hasten to note here that there is a fossil fired plant caught up in this as well .. something to make us think about the future, which surely incorporates EPA Clean Power Rule effects somewhere down the line.

January 28, 2015

Friday, January 9, 2015

Economic Impacts of Davis-Besse

• New NEI Report Lays Out Benefits from Davis-Besse

It's quite common these days for folks to band together in an effort to close already-operating nuclear power plants.  When that happens, there's a wide body of evidence to suggest that there are real, tangible and painful negative impacts; people don't consider that these will happen, regardless of purity of intent, every time a nuclear plant is shut down anywhere.  Some are willing to take those risks -- but many who are vocal and active are themselves in a position to weather higher energy prices, don't know (or aren't related to) anyone who will lose their job and home, aren't in the loop on how the communities will weather the loss of income that accompanies the departure of such a large economic force in an area.

We have no problem applying this thinking to an automobile factory.  Ford, or Chevrolet shuts just one plant or even lays off a part of the staff and it makes headlines.  The comparison is valid and it's important to note that shutting nuclear plants does something else -- it takes away large, stable power generating sources in a move that can make electricity more expensive and much more carbon intensive.  There's evidence to show it can be less reliable as well if this happens in a cold area where much of the fuel for electric power is natural gas; there are also problems with the shipment of coal these days on the highly overloaded and gridlocked US railroads which, through decades of mergers, have eliminated parallel (competitive) routes to reduce infrastructure to the point that we now can't get coal or oil to where it needs to be on time.  East coast utilities are buying Russian coal.

This taken together is why a study just released by the Nuclear Energy Institute on the economic impacts of Davis-Besse is so important.  The study lays out in plain terms what the plant means to Ohio and of course in so doing implies what would be lost were it closed.

>You can read a summary of the report at this link.

>The entire 26 page report is available as a .pdf file at this link.

We can take some lessons in this matter from the recently closed Vermont Yankee plant - a situation in which the stated advantages of a nuclear plant as described above are now converted into losses to the communities, to carbon free power generation and to the power grid.

>UMass-Donahue report on impact of Vermont Yankee closure .pdf file.

Why should we pay special attention?

Here's a simple fact you might want to know.  Professional anti-nuclear activists who were active in the Vermont area drumming up support to close Vermont Yankee are now beginning to come to Ohio to campaign to shut Davis-Besse.  They don't live in Vermont, and don't have to suffer the impacts of the closure; they don't live here either, and won't be around if or when Davis-Besse would be closed prematurely.  Would you rather let well paid anti-nuclear campaigners who jet around the country decide that you need more expensive, less reliable energy?  Would you let them lose you hundreds of jobs and remove a billion dollars a year from Ohio's economy?  Read the reports above and decide for yourselves if this is something out-of-staters should be controlling.

January 9, 2015

Monday, October 20, 2014

PUCO rules on in-state sourcing


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has ruled on whether or not renewable energy must come from inside Ohio.  The answer for now is "no," which appears to have set back efforts to build renewable power supply inside Ohio based on the simple requirement alone that it exist.  What this move does do, though, apparently is lower the power prices since Ohio can now get renewable energy (and thus the energy credits) from outside on the lowest bid.

Click here to read a well written and brief article by Tom Knox in Columbus Business First.

October 20, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Clean Energy vs. Coal


October 9, 2014 - Forbes has published a story about energy in Ohio; specifically, the battle between coal energy and clean energy. 

Click here to read "The Battle of Ohio - Clean Energy vs. Coal."

October 19, 2014

Southern Ohio Clean Energy Park

What's a "Clean Energy Park?"

It's a facility that provides carbon free or low carbon energy to surrounding communities.  It literally has the concept of putting more into the communities that surround it - in terms of energy, in terms of jobs, in terms of tax revenue - than it takes away.  And there's one that's been planned off and on for some time right here in Ohio.

There are several such parks under consideration right now around the country, which would merge both renewables (solar and wind) on the same site as nuclear to provide economical 24/7 power, whether the sun was shining or whether the wind was blowing or not.  The lowest cost power would theoretically always be available, whether nuclear base load or solar or wind peaking, from these clean energy parks.  Click here to see some of the locations under consideration.

Read about the Ohio Clean Energy Park at this link.

Progress on this concept has been slow; however, some progress continues to be made, and we can see the direction the project is going at this link.

The nuclear plant under consideration is the AREVA US-EPR, whose licensing process for construction in the United States is still underway.  This is a GENIII+ nuclear plant with enhanced safety features, and which takes account of considerations post-Fukushima through the use of four redundant safety injection trains that can get water into the nuclear steam supply system for emergency cooling.  These nuclear plants are typically rated over 1600 MWe, which is a considerable boost in non-greenhouse-gas-emitting power to Ohio.  The power availability of the renewable installation isn't determined yet.

Below, a graphic (courtesy AREVA USA) showing how the Clean Energy Park concept relates to you (see "consumer" at the top), the community, and the government.  Click to enlarge.

The idea has a great potential for answering the major question we have today -- namely, "How do we get to a reduced carbon, reduced greenhouse gas future without sacrificing our lifestyles, our industry, our transportation and safety?"  This concept could be part of a great and industry-leading initiative if Ohio can proceed with it.  We'll keep our eye on this project, and in fact intend to see if we can get some more specific, and more up-to-date information about it.

(Above, an artists' rendering of what the nuclear plant portion of a clean energy park concept would look like -- this is the AREVA EPR in an exterior view, courtesy AREVA USA.  The actual plant might also include a large cooling tower or two -- or, could use lower, less unsightly forced-air cooling towers which are actually fairly common both at nuclear and coal fired electric plants.)

October 19, 2014