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Nuclear Power Economics Requires Believing In ‘Impossible Things’ via the Energy Collective

It is increasingly clear that the economics of nuclear power don’t add up. Just in the past two and a half years, for example, seven plants at six sites have been shut down due to uneconomic performance or massive equipment repair costs—and other plants are on the chopping block. Similarly, the two ballyhooed active construction projects, in Georgia and South Carolina, are seriously behind schedule and way over budget. Nonetheless, utility executives and regulators in a number of states still have not gotten the message, notably in Florida and Virginia where executives at Juno Beach-based Florida Power & Light and Richmond-based Dominion soldier on, pushing new reactor proposals whose economics, simply put, just don’t add up and could leave ratepayers holding the bag for billions of dollars in nuclear construction costs.

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A third issue that doesn’t even make it into the annual FPL feasibility filing is the little issue of decommissioning. Cleaning up a closed nuclear site, regardless of whether it operates for 40 or 60 years, takes a lot of money. How much, you ask? Try an estimated $517 million PER reactor, according to FPL’s latest license application documents on file with NRC. These funds will be collected from ratepayers once the proposed reactors enter commercial operation—but for reasons unknown they aren’t even considered in the annual feasibility fleecing in Florida. “Curiouser and curiouser,” said Alice.

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