South Carolina Greens to address energy issues

At the recent Green Party national convention the delegates decided that energy would be part of our focus over the next year. This has been an important decision for Greens in South Carolina.

The state’s electric suppliers have proposed building four new nuclear power plants. Two are proposed near Jenkinsville, and two near Gaffney.

In addition, utilities have proposed a coal burning power plant near Florence. Recently Santee Cooper, the utility, decided to cancel their plans to build this coal burner.

Duke Energy has filed a rate increase request with the South Carolina Public Service Commission to pay for new nuclear power plants, the Cliffside Coal power plant in Rutherford County, NC, and to provide higher returns to their stockholders, according to their statements to the press.

The South Carolina Green Party state convention authorized the steering committee to file an intervention with the Public Service Commission against the Duke proposal. The deadline to file as an interveenor is in September, and the groundwork to do so is being lain right now. A press release and the official filing will likely follow closely on the heals of the September 13th steering committee meeting in Columbia. Green Party members as well as the general public are invited to attend this meeting, from noon to 2 PM at The Meeting Place, located at 2523 Read Street, close to Two Notch Road.

In our intervention we will likely argue that Duke Energy must be denied their rate increase at least until they develop and implement programs to reduce demand for electricity, thereby limiting demand for new generation.

  1. Rod Adams says:

    Compared to the coal plants that the utilities could have decided to build, nuclear fission power generators are far cleaner and less environmentally damaging.

    Fighting against new nuclear energy is fighting FOR existing coal fired power generation. South Carolina is blessed with getting more than 50% of its current electrical power needs from nuclear and another 20% or so from hydro, but the rest comes from burning dirty fossil fuels.

    Conservation is great, but wouldn’t it be nice to allow the nuclear plants to be built and operated so that existing fossil fuel plants can be retired? Then the state could be completely emission free!

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights
    (former resident of Charleston, SC)

  2. Rod Adams says:

    Oops. I got to thinking about the numbers I posted and decided I needed to check them. According to the Energy Information Agency, here are the totals for 2006 in South Carolina, the last complete year available:

    Nuclear – 51.2%
    Coal – 39.8%
    Natural Gas – 6%
    Hydroelectric – 1.8%
    Other renewables – 1.9% (mostly wood products)
    Petroleum – 0.3%

    In other words, there is a lot of dirty power there to displace by new nuclear plants and conservation. Fighting those nuclear plants will make them become far more expensive than they should be and it might even stop the plans altogether. There might be some in the Green Party that would claim that as a victory, but the only winners are the fossil fuel suppliers, not the consumers or the people who breathe the atmosphere.

  3. Sierra Barnes says:

    Actually nuclear power is incredibly dangerous and destructive, not to mention they require vast quantities of water at a time when many states are already fighting over water, see Union of Concerned Scientists report:

    Furthermore, South Carolina has the capacity to generate up to 53% of future electricity needs through clean, safe, and renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and biomass, thereby eliminating the need to build anymore nuclear or coal power plants. See: http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_energy/plugging_in_renewable_energy.pdf

  4. Dave Schwab says:

    That entire argument is based on a false dichotomy between nuclear and fossil fuels. There are other options – does the sun not shine on South Carolina? Does the wind not blow there?

    Even the idea that we need to generate more power should be questioned. America is generating way more power than we are using – the first step should be making more efficient use of what we already have. Would you pour water into a bucket that’s full of holes, or fix the holes first?

  5. Rod Adams says:

    @Sierra Barnes:

    That study makes the rather incredible assumption that South Carolina can obtain 32% of its 2001 electricity sales from solar panels. NO state in the US obtains even 1% of its electricity supply from solar energy, so the UCS is making the assumption that something dramatic is going to change to enable at least a 3200% improvement.

    Also, South Carolina’s population increase and increase in economic activity since 2001 has already resulted in a total generation increase from 89 million megawatt-hours to 103 million megawatt-hours in 2007, so the UCS numbers are already optimistic based on current needs.

    @Dave Schwab – actually, the wind does not blow very much in SC. Even the optimistic UCS report states that the wind potential in SC is quite negligible and would only result in a 5% contribution to the 2001 level of energy generation.

    I challenge you to list some of what you consider to be “holes” in electricity use. I am pretty sure that many of your neighbors would disagree of your characterization of their personal use choices as “waste”. This is, for many good reasons, still a free country where people are allowed to use the electricity that they purchase.

  6. Gregg Jocoy says:

    The bottom line Rod seems to be that you seem nukes as viable and we don’t. We see fossil fuels as unsustainable, and you believe we all should suck down air pollution so our “free” neighbors can run the AC at full strength as long as they can afford it. We see the world in very different ways. that is part of why we are Greens and you are not.

    I don’t piss and moan at your site. Why are you doing so here?

  7. Dave Schwab says:

    Nothing wrong with debate, as long as it’s civil.

    “That study makes the rather incredible assumption that South Carolina can obtain 32% of its 2001 electricity sales from solar panels. NO state in the US obtains even 1% of its electricity supply from solar energy, so the UCS is making the assumption that something dramatic is going to change to enable at least a 3200% improvement.”

    Just because we aren’t taking advantage of solar energy’s potential doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. It’s just a question of whether our representatives will push for clean, safe energy, or try to line the pockets of their buddies in the nuclear industry.

    So in a free country, taxpayers should be forced to pay the insurance on for-profit nuclear power plants that pose a mortal danger to them and their loved ones? That’s what advocates of nuclear fission are proposing – no private insurer will take the risk of covering a nuke plant.

    http://www.greenchange.org/article.php?id=4811

    Have you seen the Interior Department’s finding that offshore wind could meet the nation’s energy demand?

    http://www.greenchange.org/article.php?id=4220

    Do you know that wind power is already cheaper than nuclear power – and renewable technology is surging forward, while nuclear technology remains stagnant and dangerous?

    http://www.greenchange.org/article.php?id=3352

  8. Rod Adams says:

    @Greg – I apologize for intruding, but can you tell me exactly where I have given any indication that I favor power sources that produce air pollution? I accept that fossil fuel is better than no power at all, but I strongly believe that nuclear energy, which was clean enough to seal inside the submarine I used to live on for months at a time, is a far better solution that burning fossil fuel for power production.

    For Dave – you seem to imply that solar is just a matter of political will, but you neglect to mention that it costs about 3 times as much as the average electricity price today AND it is only available at the whim of the sun. It is not there at night and not there when there are clouds. It is not even there on my shady roof.

    The claims that wind is cheaper than nuclear is based on a stacked deck – it only includes wind at the most favorable locations close to grids and infrastructure and it only includes projected costs for new nuclear plants, not the current costs of existing nuclear plants or even the projected costs from new nuclear projects with lower risk factors and smaller sizes. It most certainly does not include the costs of off shore wind, which the Europeans have found is about 2 times as much as the cost of on shore wind due to the extra costs of transmission, servicing, and installation.

    http://tdworld.com/substations/frost-sullivan-europe-offshore-wind-0509/

    One more comment for Gregg – I welcome you to come and comment on Atomic Insights. I enjoy discussing energy with people who are serious about finding solutions and who do not mind doing a little math and engaging their critical thinking skills.

    If being a “Green” means blindly accepting some kind of anti-nuclear catechism, then I guess I am not one. If being green means trying to implement actions that reduce pollution and reduce resource consumption, then perhaps I qualify.

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights

  9. Michael Mixon says:

    Rod , I agree. Let us here some more. I believe in the same thing you do. I have worked in the nuclear industry and feel very strongly agree with expanding our fleet of nuclaer because it is not only clean energy and as far as the waste the French already have the capabilities to convert the waste to re-usable fuel to minimize the bulk of the waste. Not to mention the jobs that operating and maintaining these plants create. That cannot be said for Wind that sometimes blows and the sun that does not always shine. I agree with wind and solar be a part of the mix but do not agree that we can meet our future energy needs with either. If we continue to debate and not move foward we lenghten the time that we can shut-down the coal fired plants thus extending the time we damage our climita. Just something to consider.

  10. Lou Novak says:

    C’mon, someone is arguing for nuclear power on COST!

    Are they blind to the fact that the nuclear industry is government subsidized everywhere it is used? Are they blind to the fact that the deck has been stacked FOR nuclear power for decades? Are they blind to the fact that we will be paying the cost of waste material storage for 1000′s of years?

    Give me a break.

  11. Michael Mixon says:

    Paying for the cost of storing the wastwe is a better option than continuing to pollute the air with these coal burning plants and not having a livable climate. Technology is already in the works to deal with the waste, however a fix for the ozone is not. Im for the future of our children and their children, definetly not political in any way.

  12. Dave Schwab says:

    Lou, they were arguing that existing nuclear power can be cheaper than new wind… skirting the fact that we’re talking about new nuclear plants, which do require huge government subsidies.

    As the article I posted demonstrates, when you take all the costs into account wind is already cheaper than nuclear. Given that wind and solar technology is improving rapidly, and that new nuclear plants take at least ten years to get up and running, the cost advantage of renewables will continue to grow.

    As for storing nuclear waste, no one has solved this problem. The waste remains hazardous to all life for tens, even hundreds of thousands of years. Humans have been storing it for 50 years – already with many sicknesses and fatalities. If you are for the future of our children and their children, you should research the risks of nuclear proliferation and think hard about whether you want to leave such a dangerous world for future generations.

  13. Scott West says:

    Adams is an omnipresent pro-nuclear blogger. Google his name and you’ll see that he’s a pro, and must be employed full time as an industry hack.

    Mixon is probably another nuclear industry worker. Again, according to web searches, he’s given money to “Citizens for Nuclear Technology Awareness”, an astroturf industry PR outfit based in Aiken and partially funded by Westinghouse Savannah River Company. They sponsor something called the “Edward Teller Lecture” in Augusta every year, which lets you where CNTA is coming from ideologically.

    According the SC Secretary of State’s website. CNTA is registered as a charity in SC, raising nearly $180,000 last year.

    CNTA was in favor of storing and processing weapons grade plutonium at the Savannah River Site accoring to this 1999 PBS NewsHour story in which the organization’s ED was interviewed: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/environment/jan-june02/nuclear_6-4.html

    So it seems like its a booster group for the SRS nuclear industry, among other things.

    For a look at an organization that considers the ten thousand year legacy of nuclear waste, please see: http://www.nukebusters.org/

    BTW, I doubt this is the same Michael Mixon mentioned in the DN story below, but you never know:

    GOP Donor Accused of Funding Afghan Insurgents
    A New York man accused of funding anti-US insurgents has also been a major donor for the Republican Party. The suspect, Abdul Alishtari, also known as Michael Mixon, has pleaded not guilty to accepting payment to transfer more than one hundred fifty thousand dollars to a training camp in Afghanistan. Campaign records show Alishtari donated some fifteen thousand
    dollars to Republicans over three years. His resume says he’s been named a National Republican Congressional Committee “Inner Circle Member for Life” and a member of the “White House Business Advisory Committee.”
    http://i4.democracynow.org/2007/2/21/headlines

  14. Gregg Jocoy says:

    Rod,

    You wrote @5

    I challenge you to list some of what you consider to be “holes” in electricity use. I am pretty sure that many of your neighbors would disagree of your characterization of their personal use choices as “waste”. This is, for many good reasons, still a free country where people are allowed to use the electricity that they purchase.

    It is on the basis of that quote that I suggest you believe we should tolerate air pollution from fossil fuel plants. I assume you believe fossil fuel plants will be a substantial part of the mix for many years to come, and if you believe we are all “free” to consume as much as we care to, then you are saying that your cash is more important than my grandchildren’s lungs, and I think that is irresponsible at the least.

    We here are volunteers. If the research Scott West has done is accurate, and I imagine it is, I now understand your desire to put a pretty face on a horrible disaster we are more likely to suffer because of your efforts.

    Reasonable sounding or not, those who support nuclear power are almost always either unaware of part of the nuclear industry.

    What would we do with the waste? What will we do when the fuel runs out? Why doesn’t private business invest their cash in these projects without government cash and government insurance? What happens when we experience a melt-down like they did in the Soviet Union? They were able to crush opposition and keep the nukes going. Do you think average Americans will just allow their local nuke plant to continue with business as usual if New York suffers hundreds of thousands of deaths should something go bad wrong at Indian Point?

    The Green Party was FOUNDED as an anti-nuclear party, opposed to both the hydra head of radioactive weapons and radioactive electricity and to stop proliferation of both.

    Your posts would imply that you just want to replace fossil fuel plants with nukes, but when you (or your earlier kith and kin) were dealing with radioactive promotion we were promised “electricity too cheap to meter”. Just send everyone a bill for $1 a month, and that will be enough to pay the whole shooting match. We now know how far from the truth that was.

    This site is an open forum, so you are free to comment all you care to. Write emails to your co-workers in the astro turf world of faux green activists. Post about this thread at your facebook page. Twitter about it. Perhaps a few folks will take the time to actually read the links we Greens have posted and come to the same conclusions we have here in South Carolina.

    You might want to start with The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, then go with Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Project. then visit the Nuclear Information Resource Service. You could move on to the Sierra Club, then Friends of the Earth, or any number of other groups across the planet. If you want to stay in the US, check out this list in the Americas

    No amount of obfuscation, deception, “playing nice” or “caring for the air we breathe” will make you anything other than what you appear to be, a shill for the sellers of poison we don’t need and destroyers of what we do need: Conservation, sustainable energy, and decentralized non-corporate controlled energy for all God’s children.

  15. Gregg Jocoy says:

    BTW, Mr. Mixon *apparently* posted the same comment three times. I removed two of the copies but left the rest, spelling and all, in tact.

  16. Rod Adams says:

    @Scott West

    Adams is an omnipresent pro-nuclear blogger. Google his name and you’ll see that he’s a pro, and must be employed full time as an industry hack.

    If you actually read what you find when you Google my name, you will discover that I am as transparent as possible about my background, my employment and my motives for being an “omnipresent” blogger who is very much in favor of using atomic fission.

    However, to save you some time, here is a brief summary.

    I am currently a full time, active duty member of the US Navy. I was trained as a submarine engineer officer and served on submarines for the first ten years of my career, including 40 months as the Engineer Officer on SSBN 632. In one way or another, I have been serving for more than 32 years.

    I took 6 years off of active duty (1993-1999) and founded a company with private money to design and build distributed atomic fission generators to power ships, remote areas and islands. (Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.)

    The remnants of the company are a couple of web sites, a blog and a podcast. The costs of all of those is well within my private means to keep going. I do the writing and production work. My children are adults and everyone needs a hobby.

    My main motive is paying back the incredible privilege of serving and the education/experience opportunities I have been given. I continue to invest my time and money into sharing what I know and what I have seen.

    Please believe me when I tell you that I have seen used nuclear fuel, I have lived within 200 feet of an operating power plant for months at a time, and I have taken some pretty hefty graduate level courses from people like Chih Wu, who literally wrote the book on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion and is a well respected alternative energy researcher.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_thermal_energy_conversion

    Nothing in my experience has shown me any reason to avoid the use of nuclear energy and much has shown me that we need the capabilities that it provides. Nothing has indicated that the wind or sun will provide the power we need when we need it.

    We have enough heavy metal fuel already mined to provide reliable power for thousands of years; we simply have to employ already proven technologies to turn what some call “waste” into useful fuel. I am no mouthpiece for the “nuclear industry”; check out what I have written about Yucca Mountain (I have been writing negative articles about it since the mid 1990s) and what I write about Exelon and GE. Also pay attention to the linkages that I make between the gains in market share of the fossil fuel and alternative energy industries by suppressing nuclear fission competition. Most companies in the “industry” do not appreciate me pointing this out – they make more money in their fossil or alternative energy divisions (GE and Siemens) than in their nuclear divisions.

    Part of the reason that we have so much potential fuel that is called “waste” is that using it would not benefit the companies that currently mine uranium or produce commercial fuel. Their profits are not my problem; I am a fan of fission technology, not the companies or their leaders. Westinghouse and GE did not “invent” fission, no human did.

    Fission simply exists as a natural phenomenon and releases about 2 million times as much energy per unit mass as burning coal and produces 1/6,000,000th as much waste. (When you burn coal, which is mostly C, you have to add O2 and then dispose of both as waste.)

    I care deeply about the environment and have since early days of camping in State and National Forests as a child. I also like people and want to see them prosper – part of that motivation came during a mission trip to El Salvador in the mid 1970s. I have been a long time supporter of environmental non profits; I am an active volunteer for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

    I also love South Carolina – both my children were born in Charleston; we lived there from 1983-1985 and from 1987-1990. We still have friends that we visit there.

    Any other questions I can answer about why I am here and why I think this conversation is worth investing a little time, even at 4:25 am before heading off to work?

    Rod Adams
    Publisher, Atomic Insights
    Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast

  17. Michael Mixon says:

    I have never contributed to any such CNTA as you call it and I am definetly not the same person in that terriost article. As far as a nuclear worker I have not worked in the Nuclear Industry for over 4 years now. I stand with the belief that Nuclear is a viable source for cardon-free energy. I am also a fan of solar and wind. Also, to set the record straight I was born and raised in Hartsville, S.C. and I reside 2 miles from the H.B. Robinson nuclear plant . I have boated and fished in the lake that cools the plant with no proven Ill effects from the plant. Most of the people on this site have good intentions but some will be the first to scream if the A.C. does not work or the lights dont come on when they flick the swith. So Mr. West your research is more that slightly wrong when it comes to Michael C. Mixon. Try it again.

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