FRENCH SOLD 2 EPR REACTORS TO FINNS AT EUR 3 BILLIONS AND IS SELLING TO CORRUPT INDIAN GOVERNMENT AT EUR 7 BILLIONS
AMERICANS ARE NOT INTERESTED IN NUCLEAR POWER
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission or NRC received applications for a total of 26 reactors till the end of 2008. In 2009, only one application for a new nuclear facility, with two reactors, was received. In 2010 US Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not receive any applications for any new reactors. This lack of interest in new projects are due to rising costs, adverse regulatory decisions, difficulties in negotiations for new reactors, and last minute reactor design changes, low prices of natural gas, etc.
Out of the 17 applications for new reactors received by the NRC from 2007-2010, only one company has received a loan guarantee for a two reactor project from the Department of Energy. US nuclear industry faces controversies, economic realities like high cost, waste disposal uncertainties etc. Exelon Corp, the largest nuclear operator in the U.S., abandoned plans to build a reactor at the Victoria site in Texas.
Energy firms feel that natural gas and wind are better options than nuclear power. Experts feel that construction of new nuclear power plants will not be taken up in USA for another two decades. In October 2010, Constellation Energy pulled out of its partnership with EDF to develop a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs after receiving an offer for a federal loan guarantee of $7.6 billion. Constellation Energy found the cost of the guarantee of $880 million too onerous. Additionally, the energy company reported that the drop in power prices and lack of a carbon price make justification of the construction costs difficult. While it is tempting to look to other countries for successful templates for new nuclear construction, there are problems there too. Two notable projects, in Finland and France, are both experiencing delays and cost-overruns. The Olkiluoto project in Finland, the first French reactor built in some time, was originally scheduled to be complete in April 2009, but is now projected to be complete in the second half of 2013, which is four years behind schedule. This project is also over budget. Originally projected to cost 3 billion euros, by May 2009 the estimate had reached 6 billion euros, all with no guarantees on when it will actually begin producing electricity. Contributing to the magnitude of this example is the fact that the project is heavily subsidized: a reported low interest rate of only 2.6 percent which is about equal to inflation in Europe. French taxpayers are bearing almost all the cost overruns, since AREVA, the company building the plant gave the Finns a turnkey fixed-price contract and AREVA is about 85 percent owned by the French government. In the United States, the costs of one year delay of a two reactor project were estimated by Florida Power & Light to be $800 million to $1.2 billion. AREVA was able to trap the corrupt Indian government for two untested, never operating anywhere in the world EPR reactors at EUR 7 billion which is more than double the cost at which the French sold two reactors to Finns.
In Levy County, Florida, the Progress Energy has proposed a two reactor project. Originally projected to be online by 2016, the project has been delayed by at least 20 months to March of 2018, and could be online as late as 2021. In addition, the project is now expected to cost over $22 billion dollars which is a $5 billion increase over the original $17 billion price tag. These costs are already being borne by ratepayers, via payments through their bills that is called Construction Work in Progress or CWIP and it prompted lawsuits against the company. Starting in January of 2011, Florida Power & Light (FPL) will begin collecting $31 million from its ratepayers to finance the expansion of its Turkey Point facility.
In France, the EDF reactor at Flamanville is three years behind schedule. In addition, the cost was estimated in 2008 to be 4 billion euro, is now at least 1 billion euro over budget. A similar story is unfolding in Georgia where Georgia Power has proposed a two reactor expansion at the current Vogtle facility. Southern Company, the parent of Georgia Power received a $8.3 billion loan guarantee in February of 2010 for this project. In addition, Georgia Power ratepayers are paying $3.73/month in advance for this facility, which is expected to come online in 2016 and 2017 even though the reactor design has not yet been approved by the NRC. Ratepayers in South Carolina are also being forced to pay in advance for a proposed two reactor project that is projected to cost almost $10 billion. In Texas, CPS Energy in San Antonio reduced its stake in the South Texas Project from 50 percent to 7.625 percent, citing rising costs. The facility was originally projected to cost $ 5.4 billion, then it was $10 billion excluding financing costs, then $14 billion, causing CPS Energy to re-evaluate its position. The total cost of the project, including financing costs is now projected to be over $18 billion. Project partners with CPS says that they cannot build the reactors without receiving a federal loan guarantee, which they have not yet received.