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