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Russell Lowes
Research Director for www.SafeEnergyAnalyst.org
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It is shameful that the Arizona Daily Star endorsed this mine in their editorial today. They tout 400 good-paying jobs, taking the word of the company. Augusta/Rosemont claimed 300 jobs before they arbitrarily went up to 400. Then when they scaled back a major component of their proposed mining practice, they never adjusted the jobs down. Robotics will probably cause the real number to be closer to 100. Then, on top of that, they don't highlight the number of jobs lost in the tourism sector. Many more jobs would be lost than gained with this mine, in the tourism sector (see the Power report at SSSR's website). Rosemont = net job loss. Tourism in 2010 brought in $10 billion in AZ, with mining at $5B. Mining is on the decline and tourism is on the rise.
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APS is doing what is good, in the short term, for their investors. It is also bad, in the long term, for their investors. It is good in the short term in that they are now breaking the old two-profit center mold, converting to a three-profit center mold. It would now be that there is profit based on 1) kilowatt-hours sold; 2) capital investment; and 3) the newbie, substantial profits from meter fees. In the long run, this will 1) Keep their portfolio more stuck on fossil and nuclear energy; 2) Cause a sort of mission creep, where customers figure out ways to get off the grid; and 3) Create other forms of customer backlashes, like municipalization, creating laws allowing new forms of distributed generation solar competition (with constitutional amendment), and causing a hostility that will cause people to reduce energy use (overall, a good thing). Increased fees are good for the utility short term, but very bad for the customer. When the price of natural gas goes up, this will become much worse for the customer, as solar reduces peak gas use, dramatically.
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Thanks for the article. The utilities will continue fighting the decentralized types of solar tooth and nail until the ACC restructures the way they get the utilities' profits. Currently, they make money in two main ways, from kilowatt-hour sales and capital investment. A third minor way is through the basic monthly fee, which Arizona Public Service (sic.) is trying to get the ACC to increase. It could then become a third major source. The higher the fee, the less it makes sense to do solar. The lower fees promote alternatives to the current coal/gas/nuclear dominance. Solar energy investments actually save money for even non-solar homes and businesses by decreasing the amount of power-plants to be built and by reducing the peak energy production from gas generation. Solar energy production patterns have a fairly good match with peak energy patterns. Without solar our bills would go higher per kilowatt-hour than with them. Of course, under the current profit structure, APS will lose with decentralized solar; their loss is the customers' gain. Let's decouple their profit from product and re-couple it with service. For example, they would get more profit if the average household reduces their consumption by 100 kilowatt-hours. Another example and approach would be for the ACC to increase APS profit if the per capita service area energy use per GDP (gross domestic product) goes down.
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This will be great for the environment over the ages, as less nuclear waste is generated. It will also be great for the economy as Southern California (and really the West's grid, as we are all connected) will now tend to replace this uneconomical power with economical energy efficiency and solar energy. Sure, some of the power will be replaced with natural gas. However, that is only for now, as natural gas prices are slowly moving toward an inevitable surge in price.
Toggle Commented Jun 9, 2013 on California nuke plant closing at Blog For Arizona
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Thanks for the great article. What we need to do is spread the word on how many net jobs are lost when we continue to operate nukes and coal plants. To continue running these plants, as you obviously understand, results in fewer jobs than if we shut them down and do energy efficiency and solar instead. To keep a nuke or coal plant running is to run our economy down.
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Russell Lowes is now following mbryanaz
Mar 30, 2013
I guess they've never heard of conduit or proper panel construction. There are so many idiotic things you hear about with nukes. From major reactor components being installed backwards (with the 'north' sign pointing south!) to operators ignoring visible corrosion on reactor heads, the industry is just one error away from disaster. The wrong error will ruin your day. And the region around you. A small collection of such errors is at the subsidiary blog of this one, at: http://www.blogforarizona.com/safeenergyanalyst/2008/05/nuclear-safety.html
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Thanks for the perspective. It is true without de-coupling the profits from kilowatt-hour sales and capital investment, and re-coupling profits instead with true service, like helping customers reduce their bills through solar and efficiency, the utilities almost have to oppose the new paradigm. Prices for utility-provided electricity will go up with and solar efficiency, PER KILOWATT-HOUR, but the total bill will go down for the average family or business. That is what has happened in states that have the best policies. This is what will be happening across the globe. In contrast to this, if we don't re-couple the profits of utilities toward service, energy use would increase and the utilities would soon have to build more power plants (like the planned 1-gigawatt+ Bowie natural gas plant in SE AZ) and the price per kilowatt-hour would REALLY increase, along with the total paid per household. Remember, if you can, the increases of the 1980s with just one large power plant, Palo Verde? Arizona Public Service bills went up dozens of percentage points. This could happen again, or we could promote solar and efficiency with re-coupling the profits. Solar and efficiency might increase the cost per kWhe by 10 or 20%, but building more power plants would increase the kWhe costs and total residential and business' costs much much more.
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Thanks for the good article! Relentless attacks on our public schools and promotion of absurd energy options like nuclear power are Melvin's main career paths.
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. . .Nuclear bailouts have cost hundreds of billions of dollars. The Shoreham nuclear plant, of Long Island, alone cost over $10 billion to bail out, in 1980s dollars!
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Vermont Yankee is on the short list, also, as will Indian Point soon be, by my estimation. Nukes have been in favor ever since Presidnet Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace program. A great study by Union of Concerned Scientists is available at http://earthtrack.net/files/uploaded_files/nuclear%20subsidies_summary.pdf which shows nukes have in the past cost 6 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity and still cost 6 cents/kWhe and will in the foreseeable future cost 6 cents/kWhe. This is double the subsidy per kWhe that solar gets, or coal, or natural gas. Nukes need it continually, as they cannot stand on their own, after 60 years at the pork barrel.
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Thanks for writing this article. It is amazing how this state has become, and is even becoming more of, a slave state for the benefit of others. We export the majority of our power and we hardly tax the companies that benefit. We export copper like crazy with hardly any benefit. We are being asked to stomach Rosemont and other criminally negligent copper projects. And we are now being asked to become a transmission throughput, with the SunZia (aka Sunzilla) line cutting through our second biggest roadless area (second behind the Grand Canyon). We have cheap labor because we don't educate our students as well as other states. This trend will reverse if we can get the state to go non-extemist-Republican. With the Hispanic population and the young population increasing, we will see improvements, as we just did in the last election, except for at the Corporation Commission. By 2016 or so, if we work hard at it, we'll turn around a lot of this nonsense.
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That's an amazing chart you refer to in "record-low amount" being protected by Obama. Wow.
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Monsanto should really top the list. Followed by Goldman Sachs.
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Hi Will, What an eloquent video. I hope David Roberts is being too alarmist -- but I fear he is being very accurate. I'd like the answer to that, that is, where are we right now on the continuum of climate change and what are the positive and negative variables and their power? What are the variables' net effect?
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2012 on A Must-Watch Climate Video at Blog For Arizona
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Russell Lowes is now following Will B. Greene
Dec 22, 2012
Having read about many of the bills the Congress would like to pass, I am thinking it's a good thing they haven't passed so many bills this last year or so! With such a whacked out House (and Senate) the inactivity has spared us some really bad bills.
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SunZia: The Making of a Slave State, First Power then Transmission Why does Arizona tolerate it? Why do its citizens tolerate it? Who benefits by creating a slave-state status for Arizona? This unnecessary transmission line has been touted as a renewable energy line, while every map option for this line connects with the Bowie Natural Gas facility, owned by the same owners of SunZia. Energy Efficiency is the best way to spend dollars to meet energy needs in Arizona, followed by a mix of efficiency and solar and wind energy. Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2012 at Blog For Arizona
The term "recycling" is greenwash. You start the nuclear cycle by mining and milling what is called "yellowcake." This yellowcake is enriched into three isotopes of U-238, U-235 and an incredibly small portion of another uranium isotope. Basically new nuclear fuel is about 96% U-238 and 4% U-235. When that is run through the reactor, you get spent fuel. This consists of over 150 isotopes of elements like uranium, cesium, strontium, plutonium, etc. The spent fuel will never be recycled, as aluminum is recycled. Aluminum cans, once recycled, have the same product in them before and after: aluminum. Spent fuel cannot ever be converted to the same product, as it is so polluted with so many isotopes. Spent fuel is re-processed into a whole new product of mixed oxides, a fuel called for short, "MOX." They essentially put the spent fuel in a chemical stew and migrate certain isotope groupings out of the stew to make this MOX. Atomic Al likes to manipulate words and facts to get to where he wants to go. He has greenwashed the term reprocessing into recycling. The right wing likes to manipulate the words we use to make their projects attractive and to help pass the costs of their boondoggles onto other people.
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Uranium mining, like copper mining, is going more and more into robotics, reducing the jobs here that used to be provided. The robotics are being produced in counties with cheap labor, and peculiarly, Australia. However, if you know Australia's mining history, it is not so peculiar. It has been a powerhouse of mining for the earth for decades. While they have been largely anti-nuclear, Australians have produced a fairly large percent of the world's uranium, as well as other metals. Most of the mining companies with claims in the Grand Canyon area are foreign. The ore would be milled and then sent mostly overseas where they have better more efficient centrifuge enrichment technology. Here in the U.S. we have outdated government-run gaseous diffusion enrichment, technology from the 1950s. Yet, there is really no need to replace it though, as the world can provide cheaper labor anyway, and because nukes are so economically risky and impractical anyway. The thing that is driving the nuclear technology is a sort of religious conviction. Nuclear energy: -- is not economical; -- uses the most water; -- encourages black market sales of fissile materials for bombs, increasing terrorist potential for harm; -- sets up conditions to infringe upon our civil liberties because of that; -- reduces our national security because of black market sales of bomb materials; -- creates waste streams that will have to be in check for over a million years; -- increases global warming directly with 18 of 20 steps of the fuel cycle producing CO2; -- exposes the public to routine emissions from the fuel cycle steps; -- creates more and more mining destruction as uranium is running out; -- I could go on.
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The improvement in energy efficiency since 1973 has saved more energy than all the additional energy expansion since that year. This will continue on into the future, and negate the need for additional power plants and oil consumption for transportation and more. Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2011 at Blog For Arizona
Thanks for the alert on this. The answer with what we should do with our nuclear waste will definitely, "be with us a long, long time," as you say in your closing. Regarding nuclear waste storage from reactors, the courts have ruled that instead of the Environmental Protection Agency having to design waste disposal for 10,000 years, as it had previously ruled, the EPA will instead require that waste disposal be designed for 1,000,000 years. However, nuclear waste from reactors is only one waste step. There is waste from mining, which is primarily in the form of U-238 (half-life of 4.5 billion years), from milling, also primarily U-238. There is waste from the conversion, enrichment and reconversion processes, also primarily U-238. Although the wastes of these steps are primarily in the form of U-238, there are also other many other isotopes to be concerned with, each with their own half-lives and associated problems. On top of all that scheming for dumping on Arizona with the nation's nuclear waste (and as Al said, the world's), there is no real way to compensate the state government with $5 billion per year. That claim is sheer boosterism. The state has no mechanism for such collection of fees or taxes. And any such law designed to raise that much money would be a good candidate for a law suit under the Interstate Commerce Clause.
Toggle Commented Jun 20, 2010 on LD-26 Senate race goes nuclear at Blog For Arizona
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Hi Tomm, It is not my intent to tear the prior commenter apart. It is my intent to present an accurate analysis of energy in America and the world. I want to help steer us away from a frivolous energy course like nuclear and coal energy for electricity, while burning up money that could be used to guide us toward an economically and environmentally sustainable energy future. The person who goes by "Can't. . ." is perhaps misguided by the industry dis-information campaign. Or they are perhaps paid by the nuclear industry to do just that, "tear" people apart. Dis-information is disseminated by many nuclear companies, trade groups and governmental agencies. Areva, for example, is the world's largest nuclear company. The mostly French-owned nuclear giant has more public dis-information than perhaps any other. By itself, and through the trade organizations like Nuclear Engineering International, World Nuclear Association, and its governmental organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency, Areva is able to impose its self-serving perspectives, fabricated and not. Areva has spent $663 million -- enough to fund a successful U.S. presidential campaign -- in known money on lobbying and campaign contributions in the last 10 years promoting nuclear energy in many sorts of ways. (See: http://investigativereportingworkshop.org/investigations/nuclear-energy-lobbying-push/story/nuclear-energy-working-hard-win-support/). Thanks for the comment.
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Renz was not only a Commissioner of the AZ Corporation Commission, he was the Chair for a number of years. He has a good record on solar and energy efficiency, and on being a watchdog for the public. He seems like a great candidate.
Toggle Commented Mar 24, 2010 on SWAG Update at Blog For Arizona
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Hi Ken, Good anthology. Thanks for the tip. Indeed, the whole system of support and subsidy is well in place for nuclear energy -- more than for any other energy source. There is a great report at http://www.earthtrack.net/files/legacy_library/FiscalFission.pdf By the way, Earthtrack is a website dedicated to tracking subsidies of energy industries. They are open-source oriented, and invite contributors to help build up the site. Very cool.
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