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Mexico Goes Backward on Renewables

Mexico’s decision to suspend renewables auctions is bad news for Mexican electricity consumers and bad news for the environment.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (“AMLO”) has only been in office for 8 months, but he has already made several highly questionable decisions on energy policy. I’m particularly discouraged by the recent step backward on renewables.

After several successful rounds of renewables auctions under the previous administration, AMLO abruptly reversed course, canceling future auctions. Instead, AMLO is putting his support behind fossil fuels. For example, earlier this month he ordered a new natural gas combined cycle plant to be built in the Yucatan.

This is part of a broader move to pull back from Mexico’s energy reforms and return control of the sector to state-owned companies like CFE, the state-owned electric utility. AMLOs decision means moving forward there will be fewer private companies building renewables in Mexico, and more CFE-owned projects. CFE director general says, “Why should we buy power, if we can produce it?”

I see why some would find this “energy sovereignty” idea appealing, but this decision to suspend renewables auctions is a deep mistake. Cancelling renewables auctions is bad for Mexican electricity consumers, bad for the environment, and bad for the country’s long-run commitment to markets.

villanueva

The Auctions Were Working

AMLO cancelled what would have been Mexico’s fourth renewables auction. The first three auctions were very successful, by just about any metric. During the third auction in November 2017, the average winning bids were 2.1 cents per kilowatt hour. These are shockingly low prices – among the lowest prices for renewables ever observed anywhere in the world.

It is hard to believe that CFE, or any state-owned company, is going to be able to replicate these low costs. Renewables auctions have now been held in 48 countries, and they have proven remarkably effective at delivering rock-bottom prices.

Why? Competition. I spoke with one of the developers from the third auction, and he described how hard his company worked to submit a low bid. The auction forces companies to seek out the best locations with the most cost-effective technologies.

The auctions were not perfect. For example, I’ve heard that the most recent auction could have done a better job weighing locational factors. But this could have been addressed by refining the auction design, not moving away from markets altogether.

AMLO is wrong, moreover, if he thinks these companies are getting rich. There has been so much competition in recent Mexican auctions that profit margins are razor thin. There is also “winner’s curse” and related phenomenon which mean that the winners may actually be losing money.

TehuantepecNote

Bad for Electricity Consumers

AMLO’s decision means Mexican electricity customers will pay higher prices. CFE cannot simply stand still. Electricity consumption in Mexico is growing at 3%+ per year, so Mexico needs to be continually adding generation capacity.

CFE wants to build this capacity itself.  But economists have long pointed out that state-owned companies have less incentive than privately-owned companies to minimize costs, and many studies show that as markets become more competitive they become more efficient and higher performing.

There is also the very real possibility that CFE will fail to get new plants built at all. Blackouts are currently rare in Mexico, but this could change as growing electricity demand puts strain on the system. The first three renewables auctions yielded contracts for 7 gigawatts of wind and solar, and projects from the first two auctions are already coming online. It will not be easy for CFE to keep up this level of investment.

Bad for the Environment

But probably the biggest loser is the environment. Mexico had a goal of getting 35 percent of its electricity from clean sources by 2024, but AMLO’s decision puts this goal out of reach.

Rather than private companies building renewables, AMLO has said that the CFE will prioritize modernization of the country’s existing power plants, primarily coal and natural gas. This means more emissions of carbon dioxide, more emissions of local pollutants, and more of all the negative externalities that go along with fossil fuels.

DonJose.JPG

Bad for Markets

Mexico has long been regarded as more risky than more free-market oriented countries like Chile. Cancelling the renewables auctions came as a big surprise to developers, and puts a serious chill on investor interest moving forward.

It takes a substantial commitment of resources to participate in these renewables auctions, and at some point, companies are going to give up on Mexico. Frankly, even if Mexico gets the auctions going again, it is not going to be the same. AMLO’s willingness to change the rules of the game, and his attacks on independent energy regulatory agencies raise serious questions about the long-run commitment to markets.

In the end, it is hard not to be discouraged by these developments. Any way you look at, AMLO’s decision makes Mexico worse off. I’m afraid this one is going to hurt for a long time.

 

Ventika

Keep up with Energy Institute blogs, research, and events on Twitter @energyathaas.

Suggested citation: Davis, Lucas. “Mexico Goes Backward on Renewables”, Energy Institute Blog, UC Berkeley, August 12, 2019, https://energyathaas.wordpress.com/2019/08/12/mexico-goes-backward-on-renewables/

Lucas Davis View All

Lucas Davis is the Jeffrey A. Jacobs Distinguished Professor in Business and Technology at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He is Faculty Director of the Energy Institute at Haas, a coeditor at the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He received a BA from Amherst College and a PhD in Economics from the University of Wisconsin. Prior to joining Haas in 2009, he was an assistant professor of Economics at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on energy and environmental markets, and in particular, on electricity and natural gas regulation, pricing in competitive and non-competitive markets, and the economic and business impacts of environmental policy.

64 thoughts on “Mexico Goes Backward on Renewables Leave a comment

  1. Lucas, thanks for the blog – you are correct that developers and investors will be scared off from México now. Having led solar development in México for a large multinational solar company, I faced skepticism about investing in México and now that skepticism has proved to be well founded. Power plant development requires years of work and investment prior to realizing a project and a profit. Introducing great uncertainty makes investment less likely and will lead to less competition and higher risk investing and thus higher cost electricity than would have resulted from a continuation of the well designed solar policy.

  2. “Your argument has been that the addition of renewables requires added gas to back up that generation.”

    That has never been my argument. It’s a fact, not an argument, that intermittent renewable generation on any grid requires at least three times as much gas generation online, even in spinning reserve, to smooth its variability and back it up when it’s unavailable.

    California emissions are rising for other reasons; that solar and wind are guaranteeing gas and gas emissions a limitless future in California electricity is also fact. If you think the repeal of PUHCA constitutes a “conspiracy”, that exceptions from PUHCA granted in the 1990s weren’t directly responsible for the ascent of Enron and the California Electricity Crisis of 2000-2001; that PUHCA wasn’t repealed by a pro-oil coalition under a pro-oil president for the specific purpose of allowing utility holding companies to make $billions from self-dealing; that simultaneously repealing a ban on lobbying and contributions from utilities to political candidates didn’t facilitate that opportunity – you know even less about the history of utility regulation than I thought you did. What conspiracy? The scam is now perfectly legal.

    As Tesla Energy fails in the footsteps of its predecessor, Solar City, it’s clear home solar panels are not economical but for prime locations, in prime circumstances. Unit 3 of your favorite target – Vogtle – will go online next year, and the year after Unit 4, much to your chagrin. At that point, one nuclear plant in Georgia will be generating more clean electricity than all renewables east of the Mississippi combined. If that crushes your pro-renewables worldview, it can’t happen soon enough – caps-lock, notwithstanding.

    • You live in a fantasy were GHG emissions are rising in California’s electricity sector when the data directly contradicts you. Please provide data from 2008 to 2018 that shows that emissions have risen over that time.

      Your interpretation of the contribution of PUHCA repeal to California’s problems are naive. All of the necessary elements were set in place by the 1978 regulatory reforms of various kinds. PUHCA wouldn’t have prevented what happened.

      Oh yes, Vogtle is coming on line at the cost of $100/MWH to utility customers, far in excess of what they could pay for a mix of renewables. It’s unfortunate that the regulatory commissions in Georgia and South Carolina don’t have the backbone to say “no”. At least we in California avoided that fate.

      • I never claimed emissions have risen “over 2008 to 2018”. That was the arbitrary timespan you invented to avoid the uncomfortable truth emissions crept higher last year. Remember?

        “Your interpretation of the contribution of PUHCA repeal to California’s problems are naive. All of the necessary elements were set in place by the 1978 regulatory reforms of various kinds. PUHCA wouldn’t have prevented what happened.”

        Why, because you say so? What are the “various kinds” of regulatory reforms? Sounds like you’re making stuff up as you go along. And there would be no particular reason to accept unsupported opinion from someone who arrogantly declares

        “It’s clear.. that one cannot hold radioactive fuel in one’s hand. What an absurd statement.”

        then is immediately proven wrong (still waiting for you to try to wiggle your way out of that one). Could it be some of the other beliefs of which you are absolutely, positively certain are just as absolutely, positively wrong?

        • Huh? We’re supposed to plan for the future based on a single year’s data that conforms with your vision? That is absolutely ridiculous? And then, what are supposed to do next year when the GHG emissions fall again because 2019 was again a wet year? Are we supposed to ignore that data point because it doesn’t confirm your world view? No, a 10 year trend that starts at the effective beginning of the “RPS era” is the appropriate benchmark. That is the premise upon which we are having this debate, not a single year data point which no one who is intelligent would accept.

          And we’re supposed to believe that PUHCA was the predominant cause of the crisis because you said so? I’ve written a paper on the history of crisis that I have posted for you in previous blogs. And other histories of the crisis such as Jim Sweeney’s spend little time on that issue. The only reference to PUHCA in any articles is how the California IOUs were able to move funds to their holding companies. That was not the cause of the crisis–that was one of the final acts at the end of the crisis. Just your non authoritative assertion is insufficient proof. Provide us a book or peer-reviewed article that shows that PUHCA was the primary cause.

          The various regulatory agencies with much more authority and research than you have determined holding fuel in your hand isn’t safe. That’s why we have the protective measures in place for refueling and disposal. Again, we’re not going off you’re non authoritative assertion. Provide an authoritative source supporting your position. As I said, ask the first responders at Chernobyl whether it was safe for them to hold nuclear fuel in their hands, particularly the dead ones…

          You have failed to present any evidence to support your assertions. I have repeatedly posted here and in other blog posts that you have engaged in at least some evidence supporting my positions. I’m not going to put in the level of work that I would for a full blown hearing or a report because this is only a blog with no decision maker making policy. However, I will continue to answer what are increasingly looking like intentional lies (you have moved beyond ignorance which can be excusable) so that someone who does stumble onto this blog will not be misled.

          • “That is the premise upon which we are having this debate…” Guess what? It’s not up to you to decide what premise upon which we are having this debate, especially when you’re so obviously unqualified to discuss anything nuclear.
            You continue to succumb to your darkest fears on the danger of nuclear fuel – even after I provided a quote from Charles E. Till, Program Manager of the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR) Program at Argonne National Laboratory from 1984-1994. Over the course of his tenure Till literally did hold tons of plutonium in his hands – with no injury whatsoever.
            Radiation from U-235, the prinicpal fuel in U.S. nuclear reactors, and a softball-sized mass of which destroyed Hiroshima, is incapable of penetrating your skin.
            Go home, do some homework, learn to suck it up when you’re wrong, then maybe I’ll indulge you with a discussion. Now, you’re just an arrogant bore.

          • And neither do you get to define the premise. If we had a vote of the readers here (who probably want us to stop going back and forth), I’m pretty sure you would be the only one to vote for using a single year of data over a 10 year trend. And you still haven’t answered what happens this year when GHGs go down again because it is a wet year?

            And you haven’t explained why if nuclear fuel is so absolutely safe that we have so many safeguards around its use, and why so many were injured at Chernobyl (and Fukushima restricted worker presence on site)?

            Present real data and sources for your assertions.

        • BTW, forgot to list the various regulatory reforms from 1977-1979, that would have been familiar with if you worked in the utility and transportation industries: PURPA, NGPA, Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act, Staggers Rail Act, Airline Deregulation Act. These radically changed the regulatory landscape across many sectors (before Reagan’s election) and set the stage for the subsequent changes that led to restructuring.

  3. There is no use in trying to understand AMLOs reasonings behind his decisions for there are none.
    The man is mentally ill and unstable. It concerns me to see how the rest of the world is unaware of what this man is doing to Mexico, because it hints at how easy he may get away with his communist agenda. To even consider he will understand the factors or technicalities addressed in the article will be an aberration of sorts.
    Everything Castro did in Cuba and Chavez in Venezuela, this man is replicating in Mexico.
    The people he summoned to run the different federal agencies, not only are inadecuate to the posts, but have no saying of their own. Take an agronomist running PEMEX, or the woman in charge of PROFEPA, (The Eviromental Protection Agency) with a degree in some fashion design. Nothing but faitfull supportes to the regime, in his claim to be fighting corruption.

    His agenda is to destabilize Mexico and its economy, by undermining long established institutions, the economy and worst yet dividing Mexicans with his lies. His ultimate goal is to be the dictator of a communist Mexico.

  4. Lucas,
    You seem to agree with AMLO that gas and solar are substitutes. You want to substitute renewables for fossil fuels, and he wants to substitute gas for renewables. But a natural hypothesis is that gas and solar generation are complements, due to the flexibility of one and the intermittency of the other, and that they jointly substitute for coal.
    Nor can we be sure that “as markets become more competitive they become more efficient and higher performing.” There are several instances where partial deregulation (and it’s always partial) seems to have increased prices. And I’m sure that there’s some disagreement about how to even measure competitiveness in a world of partial deregulation.
    What about innovation? Aghion has shown that on average, innovation vs. competition is humped-shaped, innovation falling when one minus the Lerner index gets above 80% or so. Now we have a tough time measuring efficiency. (Dynamic efficiency can fall as a result of static efficiency being too high.)
    It’s plausible that the relationship between deregulation and prices is also non-monotonic. A little deregulation may do more harm than good.
    All grist for the research mill.
    Jim

    • Jim
      Interesting observations on innovation, dynamic and static efficiency. I’m having trouble imagining what 1 minus the Lerner curve looks like. Does that mean if it is greater than 80%, i.e.,. that profits are smaller due to competition, that innovation goes down? And is there any literature on how the Lerner Index relates to the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) that is commonly used to measure market power from more easily observed data?

      • Richard,
        One minus the Lerner Index is marginal cost as a percentage of price. Aghion et al. (QJE, 2005) use this as an index of competition, presumably because it goes from zero to one and makes their “Inverted-U” look good.
        Jim

  5. AMLO and CFE’s decision to return to coal has nothing to do with energy and everything to do with political power. To think otherwise is to misunderstand the issues facing Mexico’s energy sector. As for the comments that renewable were never studies to see if they were truly economical…well they really didn’t look very hard. There are so many studies in the US, UK, France, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Australia (all in English, all accessible via Google) there there is no excuse.

    Finally, when the Coal Museum of Missouri decided to renew its energy purchase agreement, it picked solar because it was 40% cheaper than any other options.

    Mexico’s decision to walk away from renewable energy has nothing to do with the energy sector and everything to do with political power and decision making. The current Mexican government’s instinct is that anything it doesn’t directly control is bad — that will change but the damage will have been done

  6. Lucas, I’m not an economist but (correct me if I’m wrong): low profit margins in a free-market economy indicate a lack of demand in relation to supply, and lack of demand for a product is often the result of its real or perceived lack of value.. Could renewables be suffering in Mexico because intermittent electricity is not that useful – not to utilities, not to customers?

    IMO, the perspectives of those of us accustomed to cheap, 24/7 electricity need a reset. In 2019, anyone who believes citizens of developing countries should (or will) settle for intermittent, unreliable electricity will be sorely disappointed – and in terms of climate, the sooner, the better. The U.S. needs to set an example by developing and adopting electricity solutions which provide all the benefits of affordable, dispatchable fossil fuel sources but don’t emit CO2.

    • The low profit margins arise here from “forward pricing” a phenomenon of rapidly evolving markets. It was first formally observed in aerospace pricing in 1960s and became well known in the computer industry of the 1980s. Innovators bank on higher future incomes from innovation to pay for today’s products.

      • Mexicans, tired of being energy-dependent on a country with a mercurial dimwit for a president (the U.S. supplies 60% of Mexico’s natural gas and over half of its gasoline), elected President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) on his platform of “energy sovereignty”. AMLO hopes to see an increase in domestic natural gas production in order to reduce imports of gas from the United States. Why build more renewables, when they only make Mexico more dependent on U.S. gas?

        It’s a recurring theme: people don’t want electricity that only works when it’s sunny outside.

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/nathanielparishflannery/2019/06/07/political-risk-analysis-mexicos-problematic-energy-policy/

        • In classic Internet troll fashion, you didn’t answer my point of why renewables’ profit margins are so low. I presume then that you’ve withdrawn your previous speculation as incorrect.

          As to your change of subject to claims of energy independence, you need to provide evidence of rationality on the part of the Mexican government. Much more likely that they are responding to political pressure from the PEMEX unions to increase national fossil fuel production. It’s the same reason that India continues to run highly inefficient brown coal plants.

          • Sorry, I didn’t feel the need to respond to your ridiculous “forward pricing” comparison of renewable energy to the 1960s aerospace industry. Really? Wouldn’t “supply/demand” be a more rational explanation for prices of intermittent Mexican solar being in the toilet?

            As to your suggestion “political pressure from Pemex unions” is responsible for AMLO’s support for gas, now you’ve really gone off the rails. As the most indebted company in the world ($110 billion in the hole) Pemex is hanging on by a thread. Tossing solar panels into the Rio Grande and drilling for gas might give Pemex workers a chance at a decent income.

          • Forward pricing is also well documented in the solar industry. I’m not the only one who recognizes this: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/merchant-income-is-key-in-latest-record-solar-bids

            Did you read the Forbes article you posted? “Lopez Obrador, who is known in Mexico by his initials, AMLO, wants to re-build the country’s beleaguered parastatal energy giant Pemex and construct a multi-billion dollar refinery in his home state of Tabasco…AMLO’s energy policy centers around what he calls “energy sovereignty,” which seems to imply a goal of independence from energy imports and a more state-led approach to development of Mexico’s energy resources.” AMLO won the election with the strong back on Mexico’s unions.

          • If the unreviewed analys- er, activists – at GreenTechMedia didn’t make their bread and butter promoting wind and solar, their forward-pricing thesis might have some value. Here, it looks like an alibi. And supply/demand, an inconvenient truth.

            Of course I read the Forbes article, and maybe AMLO was pressured by unions. Or maybe he was pressured by unions, and citizens who wanted reliable, affordable electricity, and Pemex workers who needed a job. Either a) it’s a vast conspiracy seeking to undermine renewable electricity, or b) renewables just don’t work that well. What are the chances?

          • It’s not just GTM that has written about forward pricing. It’s been known in the industry for some time. Your lack of knowledge about how the industry actually works is in evidence.

            You relied on the Forbes article to make your assertion. Now you’re backing away from that. What other credible source to you have to support your speculation on reasons? You have no basis for your statements about Mexican policy on this issue.

          • And it doesn’t need to be a “vast” conspiracy to undermine renewables. The Trump Administration is carrying out all sorts of policies to unwind those implemented by the Obama Administration that don’t require a “vast” conspiracy. It just takes an executive with a few advisors and staff willing to act. And AMLO isn’t focused on undermining renewables–he’s focused on raising Pemex revenues and workforce so he’s sweeping aside everything (including gas imports) to promote that.

          • Richard McCann: Apparently, you wish to disregard the simplest explanations as to why Mexican solar and wind generation are being shunned – namely their inherent intermittency implies a significant reliance on dirty natural gas generation to “firm” their production. Carl Wurtz also raises supply-demand issues you sweep aside. Perhaps the “forward thinking” you are concerned about i is the prospect of future consulting business drying up as more and more decision-makers recognize solar and wind as overpriced boondoggles.

          • Why is that the simplest explanation? Yours requires that Mexican policymakers have a much more sophisticated understanding of how the grid works than California’s legislators or even the regulators. The obvious, simplest explanation has nothing to do with economics but rather simple politics that is well understood by everyone else.

  7. Mexico’s suspension of “renewables” auctions is a good thing. There never was a scientific and/or engineering analysis that actually established the net environmental benefits of either solar or wind as part of the California power grid. Instead, lobbyists for those generation means lobbied gullible decision-makers to adopt the energy policies that benefited those generation means – and disadvantaged proven zero-emissions large hydro and nuclear power technologies. In California, our nonprofit Californians for Green Nuclear Power at CGNP dot org established the capacity factor, or percentage ON time for both solar and wind was approximately 20% for the half-year ending on January 31, 2017. We used official California Independent System Operator (CAISO) data. Our filings were made before the California Public Utilities Commission and before FERC. Some details are shown in this paper: https://tinyurl.com/Wind-And-Solar-Scam

    In California, for about 80% of the time, solar and wind are backed up with natural-gas-fired generation, This generation is dispatched in an inefficient, intermittent fashion that likely nullifies any environmental benefits of either solar or wind. The July, 2019 CAISO Monthly summary at http://www.caiso.com/Documents/MonthlyStats-July2019.pdf shows the “steepest 3-hour ramp” to date was 15,639 MW on January 1, 2019. To put that figure in perspective, recall that Hoover Dam’s nameplate capacity is 2,078 MW. That means the equivalent of about 7 1/2 Hoover Dams of dirty fossil-fired generation had to be turned on during a brief 3-hour interval. This abrupt action is akin to “flooring” your vehicle. Emissions (and wear-and-tear) skyrocket for the natural gas plants being dispatched. CEMS data supports this assertion. Please use the US EPA’s Field Audit Check Tool (FACT) for large combined-cycle gas plants such as SCE’s Mountainview for verification. CGNP also submitted annual heat rate tabulations to the CPUC in the current Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) proceeding R.16-02-007 that document these environmental harms that are a consequence of natural gas-fired generation being dispatched in an inefficient stop-and-start manner. Solar and wind have been heavily promoted by natural gas suppliers. The evidence shows more, not less natural gas is being combusted – great news for natural gas suppliers and bad news for the environment.

    These concerns should be covered in greater detail in the Energy Institute Blog. I’m willing to submit more detailed information based on CGNP’s filings before the CPUC and FERC.

    The State of Ohio just repudiated the so-called “renewable portfolio standard” (RPS) with the recent passage of Ohio HB 6. They are also rewarding the zero-emissions properties of nuclear power. California should promptly adopt a zero-emissions credit program. CGNP is a partner to Environmental Progress in advocating for this long-overdue change to California energy policies.

    • Very relevant points made by drgenenelson. The flaw in many justifications for ‘renewables’ [wind and solar] is that they look only at part of the picture.

      It would be helpful to get some cradle-to-cradle life cycle analyses – including construction [foundations and specially built roads], the manufacture of components/ system, and the fully mitigated disposal at end of life [especially for the toxic solar panel materials]. The environmental impact of noise and changed wind patterns? The ground effects of solar farms hogging the sunlight/heat being shaded from the ground.

      A metric is needed that integrates the full-life-cycle efficiency: TOTAL energy generated divided by TOTAL energy consumed in producing, installing, disassembling, and fully mitigated reprocessing. Of course will have to include a FULL scrubbing of emissions from fossil-based electricity generation.

      • Azmat & Dr Gene Nelson
        Just because you aren’t aware of studies that measure the benefits of renewables doesn’t mean that those dozens of studies don’t exist. I’ve done a couple of them myself. I don’t know where you get the data that shows increased gas generation. I’m looking at the utilities’ ERRA filings every year and I see falling gas generation. CARB’s emissions data confirms that emissions from the electricity sector are falling faster than any other sector, which is why we are pushing electrification.

        I already posted a study in a previous posting addressing the life cycle costs. Here’s one by a pro nuclear group that shows that the life cycle emissions of most renewables are comparable to nuclear and far below those of convention fossil plants. http://www.world-nuclear.org/uploadedFiles/org/WNA/Publications/Working_Group_Reports/comparison_of_lifecycle.pdf

        Note also that nuclear plants are largely non-dispatchable and create the opposite problem of variable output which is inflexibility–which means that they also require a dispatchable generation source,, a.k.a., natural gas, to follow load. Nuclear is already very expensive–both Vogtl and Diablo Canyon would cost in excess of $100/MWH to run. Reducing the capacity factor by somehow making these dispatchable for load following will only worsen their economics.

        • “I already posted a study in a previous posting addressing the life cycle costs. Here’s one by a pro nuclear group that shows that the life cycle emissions of most renewables are comparable to nuclear and far below those of convention fossil plants.”

          Again, you conveniently ignore the intermittency of renewables. Gas is solar’s inseparable twin – it shoulders 75% of the responsibility for providing a steady supply of electricity. Solar needs spinning reserve, even when the sun is shining, to maintain grid stability.

          I have no idea from what hat you’re pulling the nonsense “Diablo Canyon would cost in excess of $100/MWH” – today it’s generating electricity for $27/MWh, and load-following would not increase its cost significantly. A real-world example: Denmark, a country with 50% wind penetration, both 1) has the highest priced electricity in the EU, and 2) emits 17% more carbon than nuclear-powered France. Nuclear plants follow load all day long in France, yet somehow electricity costs 45% less than in Denmark.

          • And you ignore that gas is the inexorable twin of nuclear to load follow the swings of the grid. I saw that when we were hired by SMUD to review options for either running or closing Rancho Seco. Your proposed solution is no solution. The fact is that utilities are now looking at solar/wind+battery storage complexes to load follow with 100% renewables. Are you saying that you are a better informed utility engineer than those who are running the grid? If so, you’re going to have to present some credentials.

            The cost of relicensing Diablo Canyon comes directly from PG&E in its retirement application, which I have pointed you (specifically) several times. Have you read PG&E’s application and supporting testimony? Are you also saying that you know PG&E’s costs better than PG&E? If so, you’re going to have to present some credentials. (BTW, you can see my credentials as attached to my 50 different testimony submittals at the CPUC.)

            And the going forward cost of Diablo Canyon, as I presented in PG&E’s 2019 ERRA case, exceeds $40/MWH. (I can’t tell you the exact cost because it’s based on PG&E’s confidential data.) You can read my testimony in that case to see how I developed that cost number.

        • Rancho Seco?! Do I get to use 1966 solar panels as examples of current solar tech?

          “The fact is that utilities are now looking at solar/wind+battery storage complexes to load follow with 100% renewables….”

          Utilities are looking at load-following battery complexes, are they? I’d like to look at them too, but they don’t exist. There’s a reason for that: price-wise, you’re three orders of magnitude divorced from reality.

          I’ve read PG&E’s application to close Diablo Canyon more times than I care to remember. Of course PG&E is inflating its cost of operation; they want to close it and burn gas. They can make more money by billing their cost of fuel to ratepayers, just like Edison and Sempra could with San Onofre.

          “…Diablo Canyon would cost in excess of $100/MWH to run…”
          “…the going forward cost of Diablo Canyon…exceeds $40/MWH…”

          Your price of Diablo Canyon’s electricity is dropping like a rock. If I wait another hour, will it bear some semblance to what PG&E actually pays?

          • I use Rancho Seco because nuclear technology apparently hasn’t advanced much since the 1970s. You and others are still defending Diablo Canyon, which still must operate in continuous base load, which then forces the rest of the system to absorb the load variations. So Diablo is imposing similar requirements to continue using gas to load follow.

            Yes, load following batteries and other storage exist at utility scale. Just search the Internet for multitudes of examples. If they don’t exist why is California planning on build a half dozen of these larger storage complexes within the next couple of years? Again, are you asserting that you’re a better electrical system engineer than those at PG&E, SCE and SDG&E.

            That’s a pretty wild assertion about why PG&E wants to inflate its Diablo costs. Given that Vogtl also will cost about the same to run, PG&E’s estimates look a whole bunch better than yours. You need to come up with real EVIDENCE of the true costs rather than making baseless assertions. As to making money off of gas burn, the fuel costs are 100% pass through to ratepayers with NO shareholder returns to PG&E. Again, I’ve seen the confidential data in PG&E’s ERRA filings that supports this finding. You would be well advised to fully understand California ratemaking laws and regulations before you throw around assertions that are ignorant of the facts.

            If you don’t understand the difference between total capital and operating costs incurred in 2025 and going forward operating costs incurred in 2019, then we really have no common language for discussion. I suggest that you do more research on electricity system costing methods. The two are totally consistent with each other.

          • If you believe nuclear technology “hasn’t advanced much since the 1970s” you know nothing about it. Diablo Canyon has been consistently updated and maintained, and is considered one of the best-run nuclear facilities in the world. Like any other Gen2 plant, it’s more than capable of load-following the gentle curves of customer demand – it’s the on-off, roller coaster variability of renewables it can’t follow, so gas backup is required. Get rid of renewables? No more problem.

            “Yes, load following batteries and other storage exist at utility scale. Just search the Internet for multitudes of examples…” Nope. You made the claim it exists, and I’m not going to do your job for you.

            If you knew anything about the history of utility regulation, you would know the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA) was repealed in 2005. It prohibited affiliate transactions – the energy holding company scam, dating from the 1920s, where energy companies bought natural gas from their own subsidiaries to generate electricity, then charged ratepayers for it. Because they owned the company selling the fuel they could charge themselves – then ratepayers – whatever they wanted. Since 2005 that practice is back again with a vengeance, and it’s 100% legal. Though utility holding companies like PG&E International make no profit on electricity, they make $billions buying gas from themselves at the expense of the environment – the more they burn, the more money they make. That, alone, is what is closing nuclear plants in the U.S. – it’s not “the low price of natural gas” or that “nuclear plants are uneconomical.” If anything, nuclear is too economical.

            Apparently, you believe your “confidential” PG&E information is gospel truth. You must not be aware PG&E has donated hundreds of $thousands to both Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom’s election campaigns, and that Public Utilities Commission commissioners are appointed by the Governor. Hopefully, I don’t have to connect the dots for you.

            Again, I’ve spent far too much time educating someone who knows a lot less than he thinks he knows. Below are some references for you – have a nice day.

            PUHCA for Dummies
            large.stanford.edu/courses/2013/ph240/iskhakov2/docs/hargis.pdf

            When Utility Gas Affiliates Play by Monopoly Rules, Consumers Are Likely to Lose
            https://www.raponline.org/blog/when-utility-gas-affiliates-play-by-monopoly-rules-consumers-are-likely-to-lose/

          • If Diablo can load follow, they aren’t doing it. There are certainly times during the shoulder months when the average MCP in the CAISO is less than the operating cost of Diablo and PG&E still doesn’t ramp back.

            Do you have evidence that PG&E Corp has subsidiaries that hold gas assets? Because my understanding is that PG&E no longer owns any Canadian gas production assets. They have no means to make the money you claim.

            I’m very aware of PG&E’s political activities and contributions. What does that have to do with my analysis using confidential PG&E data? Are you claiming that PG&E is lying to the CPUC in the data that it provides? I know that PG&E has significant data handling and analysis problems (I can tell you so many stories), but being able to pull off that type of conspiracy, that also would require lying on their FERC Form 1 (since much of the data is confirmed there), is beyond belief. You’re really reaching for straws.

            At some point, you should concede that you may not have sufficient access to data nor a sufficiently complete understanding of California regulatory proceedings to back up your assertions. Your speculation is generally contradicted by the available facts.

          • “Do you have evidence that PG&E Corp has subsidiaries that hold gas assets?”

            I don’t know, maybe it’s PG&E subsidiary “Alberta and Southern Gas Co. Ltd.”, or “Natural Gas Corporation of California”. Since not taking advantage of this lucrative opportunity would expose the company to a gross negligence lawuit, and you have confidential access, the onus is on you to show PG&E doesn’t engage in affiliate transactions.

            Here’s a start: a list of the other 262 other PG&E subsidiaries FERC has responsibility, but none of the resources, for examining:

            Elm Power Corporation, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, 201 Turk Street, L.P., 1989 Oakland Housing Partnership Associates, L.P., 1992 Oakland Regional Housing Partnership Associates, a California Limited Partnership, 1994 Oakland Regional Housing Partnership Associates, a California Limited Partnership, Alberta and Southern Gas Co. Ltd., Calaska Energy Company, Chico Commons, a California Limited Partnership, Eureka Energy Company, Merritt Community Capital Fund V, L.P., Natural Gas Corporation of California, Alaska Gas Exploration Associates, NGC Production Company, Newco Energy Corporation, Electric Generation LLC, Balch 1 and 2 Project LLC, Battle Creek Project LLC, Bucks Creek Project LLC, Chili Bar Project LLC, Crane Valley Project LLC, DeSabla-Centerville Project LLC, Diablo Canyon LLC, Drum-Spaulding Project LLC, Haas-Kings River Project LLC, Hamilton Branch Project LLC, Hat Creek 1 and 2 Project LLC, Helms Project LLC, Kerckhoff 1 and 2 Project LLC, Kern Canyon Project LLC, Kilarc-Cow Creek Project LLC, McCloud-Pit Project LLC, Merced Falls Project LLC, Miocene Project LLC, Mokelumne River Project LLC, Narrows Project LLC, Phoenix Project LLC, Pit 1 Project LLC, Pit 3, 4 and 5 Project LLC, Poe Project LLC, Potter Valley Project LLC, Rock Creek-Cresta Project LLC, Spring-Gap Stanislaus Project LLC, Tule River Project LLC, Upper NF Feather River Project LLC, ETrans LLC, GTrans LLC, Pacific California Gas System, Inc., Pacific Conservation Services Company, Pacific Energy Fuels Company, Pacific Gas and Electric Housing Fund Partnership, L.P., Pacific Gas Properties Company, Pacific Properties, PG&E CalHydro, LLC, PG&E Capital I, PG&E Capital II, PG&E Capital III, PG&E Capital IV, PG&E Funding LLC, PG&E Holdings, LLC, Schoolhouse Lane Apartments L.P., Standard Pacific Gas Line Incorporated, PG&E Corporation Support Services, Inc., PG&E National Energy Group, LLC, PG&E National Energy Group, Inc., PG&E Enterprises, PG&E National Energy Group Holdings Corporation, Citrus Generating Company, L.P., Properties Holdings, LLC, Alhambra Pacific Joint Venture, BPS I, Inc., Alhambra Pacific Joint Venture, Conaway Ranch Company, The, Conaway Conservancy Group Joint Venture, Conaway Conservancy Group Joint Venture, DPR, Inc., Gilia Enterprises, Marengo Ranch Joint Venture, Oat Creek Associates Joint Venture, Marengo Ranch Joint Venture, Oat Creek Associates Joint Venture, Valley Real Estate, Inc., PG&E Energy Trading Holdings, LLC, PG&E Energy Trading Holdings Corporation, PG&E Energy Trading – Power, L.P., PG&E ET Synfuel 166, LLC, PG&E ET Synfuel #2, LLC, PG&E ET Investments Corporation, PG&E Energy Trading – Power, L.P., PG&E Energy Trading – Gas Corporation, PG&E Energy Trading, Canada Corporation, CEG Energy Options, Inc., True Quote LLC, Virtual Credit Services, LLC, PG&E International, Inc., PG&E International Development Holdings, LLC, PG&E Overseas Holdings I, Ltd., PG&E Overseas Holdings II, Ltd., PG&E Corporation Australian Holdings Pty Ltd., PG&E Corporation Australia Pty Ltd., PG&E Energy Trading Australia Pty Ltd., Gannet Power Corporation, Rocksavage Services I, Inc., PG&E Generating Company, LLC, PG&E Generating Energy Group, LLC, Attala Power Corporation, Attala Generating Company, LLC, Attala Energy Company, LLC, Badger Power Corporation, Badger Generating Company, LLC, Beech Power Corporation, Mantua Creek Generating Company, L.P., Mantua Creek Urban Renewal, L.P., Plover Power Corporation, Mantua Creek Generating Company, L.P., Mantua Creek Urban Renewal, L.P., Black Hawk III Power Corporation, Lake Road Generating Company, L.P., Lake Road Power I, LLC, Peach IV Power Corporation, Lake Road Generating Company, L.P., Lake Road Power II, LLC, Bluebonnet Power Corporation, Bluebonnet Generating Company, LLC, Covert Power Corporation, Covert Generating Company, LLC, First Arizona Land Corporation, First California Land Corporation, GenHoldings I, LLC, Black Hawk Power Corporation, Athens Generating Company, L.P., Harquahala Generating Company, LLC, Harquahala Power Corporation, Harquahala Generating Company, LLC, Osprey Power Corporation, Millennium Power Partners, L.P., Magnolia Power Corporation, Millennium Power Partners, L.P., Peach I Power Corporation, Athens Generating Company, L.P., Goose Lake Power Corporation, Goose Lake Generating Company, LLC, Harlan Power Corporation, Umatilla Generating Company, L.P., Juniper Power Corporation, Umatilla Generating Company, L.P., Long Creek Power Corporation, Long Creek Generating Company, LLC, Kentucky Hydro Holdings, LLC, La Paloma Power Corporation, La Paloma Generating Company, LLC, Liberty Generating Corporation, Liberty Generating Company, LLC, Liberty Urban Renewal, LLC, Madison Wind Power Corporation, Madison Windpower LLC, Meadow Valley Power Corporation, Meadow Valley Generating Company, LLC, MidColumbia Power Corporation, MidColumbia Generating Company, LLC, Morrow Power Corporation, Morrow Generating Company, LLC, Okeechobee Power Corporation, Okeechobee Generating Company, LLC, Otay Mesa Power Corporation, PG&E Dispersed Power Corporation, PG&E Dispersed Generating Company, LLC, Plains End, LLC, PG&E Generating Energy Holdings, Inc., Badger Generating Company, LLC, Bluebonnet Generating Company, LLC, Covert Generating Company, LLC, Goose Lake Generating Company, LLC, Long Creek Generating Company, LLC, La Paloma Generating Company, LLC, Liberty Generating Company, LLC, Liberty Urban Renewal, LLC, Madison Windpower LLC, Meadow Valley Generating Company, LLC, MidColumbia Generating Company, LLC, Morrow Generating Company, LLC, Okeechobee Generating Company, LLC, PG&E Dispersed Generating Company, LLC, Spencer Station Generating Company, L.P., PG&E Generating New England, Inc., PG&E Generating New England, LLC, San Gorgonio Power Corporation, Mountain View Power Partners, LLC, Mountain View Power Partners II, LLC, Spencer Station Power Corporation, Spencer Station Generating Company, L.P., USGen New England, Inc., First Massachusetts Land Company, LLC, USGen Services Company, LLC, White Pine Generating Company, LLC, PG&E Generating Power Group, LLC, Aplomado Power Corporation, Beale Generating Company, Indian Orchard Generating Company, Inc., MASSPOWER, L.L.C., MASSPOWER, JMC Altresco, Inc., Altresco, Inc., Pittsfield Generating Company, L.P., Berkshire Pittsfield, Inc., Berkshire Feedline Acquisition Limited Partnership, Pittsfield Partners, Inc., Pittsfield Generating Company, L.P., JMC Iroquois, Inc., Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P., JMC Selkirk Holdings, Inc., JMC Selkirk, Inc., PentaGen Investors, L.P., Selkirk Cogen Partners, L.P., Selkirk Cogen Funding Corporation, Selkirk Cogen Partners, L.P., Selkirk Cogen Funding Corporation, JMCS I Holdings, Inc., PentaGen Investors, L.P., Selkirk Cogen Partners, L.P., Selkirk Cogen Funding Corporation, Orchard Gas Corporation, Mason Generating Company, J. Makowski Associates, Inc., Cooper’s Hawk Power Corporation, Citrus Generating Company, L.P., Eucalyptus Power Corporation, Citrus Generating Company, L.P., Eagle Power Corporation, First Oregon Land Corporation, Garnet Power Corporation, Carneys Point Generating Company, Topaz Power Corporation, Carneys Point Generating Company, USOSC Holdings, Inc., PG&E Operating Services Company, PTP Services, LLC, PG&E Overseas, Inc., PG&E Overseas, Ltd., PG&E Pacific I, Ltd., PG&E Pacific II, Ltd., Quantum Ventures, Barakat & Chamberlin, Inc., Creston Financial Group, Inc., PG&E Energy Services Ventures, Inc., Real Estate Energy Solutions, LLC, PG&E Gas Transmission Corporation, GTN Holdings LLC, PG&E Gas Transmission, Northwest Corporation, Pacific Gas Transmission Company, Pacific Gas Transmission International, Inc., PG&E Gas Transmission Service Company LLC, Stanfield Hub Services, LLC, PG&E Gas Transmission Holdings Corporation, North Baja Pipeline, LLC, PG&E Strategic Capital, Inc., PG&E Ventures, LLC, Pacific Venture Capital, LLC, PG&E Ventures ePro, LLC, PG&E Telecom, LLC, PG&E Capital, LLC, PG&E Telecom Holdings, LLC.

            https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/75488/000095010902001152/dex21.htm

            Have at it. You’re welcome.

          • You’re the one making the assertion that PG&E is making money by generating with gas. It’s your burden to show that their income rises substantially with increased generation. You can get that from the 10K forms. Otherwise you’re just blowing smoke with wild speculation.

            And even then, you have to show that the income gained from the increased gas sales outweighs the investment income from the added new ratebase at Diablo Canyon. Now, that I’m sure far exceeds what any of PG&E’s gas sales will generate in net income, if there are any significant sales. Your speculation simply doesn’t make economic or financial sense at all. Why give up several hundred million dollars a year in assured income for what is at most only tens of millions of highly variable income?

        • Richard: In PG&E’s CPUC Application A.16-08-006 to abandon Diablo Canyon in 2025 the utility improperly burdens DCPP’s 2025-2045 operating cost with $3 billion in un-needed and un-necessary cooling system modification costs. The method PG&E employed to arrive at this bloated figure is very suspect. DCPP has been running under a SWRCB variance since 1984 where modest payments of about $3 million per year are made to mitigate any alleged harms of the plant’s once-through cooling system. Federal EPA 316(B) regulations recognize the zero-emissions benefits of nuclear power – and provide for a reasonableness test where cooling system costs must not be wholly out of proportion to benefits. Furthermore, the application of US EPA OTC rules appropriate to inland waterways to cooling by the open ocean is also an area where CGNP has raised scientific, engineering, and economics concerns.

          The Idaho National Laboratories commissioned a cost study of DCPP’s 2015 operating costs. The results show a cost of $27.10/MWh, about 1/4 of your inflated $100/MWh alleged DCPP cost. In July, 2019, CAISO revealed the average 2018 wholesale cost of California’s power is $50.00/MWh – and nuclear power costs far less than the California average.

          CGNP suggests that you review PG&E’s CPUC Application A.10-01-022. This was PG&E’s 2010 Application for cost recovery of DCPP’s re-licensing to 2045 costs. CGNP included relevant excerpts of PG&E’s 2010 Application obtained via the CPUC Data Request mechanism in their A.16-08-006 rebuttal to PG&E’s inflated cost projections submitted in 2016. PG&E’s 2010 filings strongly support the continued safe operation of Diablo Canyon to 2045 and beyond. CGNP’s lead counsel dryly observed that one set of PG&E’s DCPP filings must be false as they contradict each other. Given the financial incentive for PG&E to abandon the well-cared-for DCPP, CGNP concludes PG&E’s 2016 and later filings contain material mis-statements, in contravention to the CPUC Rules of Practice and Procedure, Rule 1.

          CGNP has raised concerns regarding PG&E’s apparent lack of ethics – and likely harms to California’s public safety connected with the DCPP abandonment plans with the Federal Monitor overseeing PG&E’s criminal probation in the case styled as USA v PG&E before federal Judge William H. Alsup. Given your history of advocating for solar and wind, I believe Federal Judge Alsup is better qualified as a finder of fact in these matters.

          • The SWRCB’s ocean discharge rules are in place and the law. It is settled, and the SWRCB has been applying this to many more plants than just Diablo. If you have an issue, you need to appealing at the SWRCB–the CPUC has absolutely no control over that decision. The CPUC disagreed with your case, and in fact just about every other party disagreed with you. You stood alone with your assertion. That should tell you about whether it’s valid. Remember that one of the primary drivers of restructuring in the late 1990s was to escape the onerous costs of Diablo.

            I have no clue of how the Idaho NL did there study. I doubt that they had access to PG&E’s confidential data like I did. I also doubt that they included all of Diablo’s going forward costs. (I’ve done this analysis several times over the last 20 years and get pretty much the same answer every time.)

            Yes, the CAISO market price got to $50 last year (but the IOU’s forecast that it will drop back lower). That’s the first time since 2014 that it exceeded $40 if you look at p. 3 of the CAISO report: http://www.caiso.com/Documents/2018AnnualReportonMarketIssuesandPerformance.pdf. Diablo should not have running since 2014, and probably shouldn’t run this coming year given the price forecast. It’s a money loser for ratepayers.

            I am all for Judge Alsup throwing the book at PG&E. Don’t confuse my opposition to boondoggles like Diablo with support for other technologies. It’s just the case now that new solar and wind are much more cost effective. I have been a strong critic of PG&E’s failure to properly manage its renewables portfolio. I’ve calculated that PG&E is maintaining a $20 to $30 per MWH risk hedge in that portfolio due to mismanagement. Unfortunately, that appears to be a sunk cost, just like Diablo’s capital costs.

            That PG&E updated its cost assessment from 2010 to 2016 isn’t a surprise. That’s not a Rule 1 violation by any means. It’s learning and correcting.

          • Richard: Again you attempt to obfuscate what is simple and clear. In PG&E’s 2016 DCPP Application, they lied, in contravention to CPUC Rule 1, which requires that their testimony be affirmed. One of their deceptions was described above. PG&E is already a felon in the eyes of the Feds. PG&E lied regarding natural gas pipeline inspections connected with the 8 deaths in San Bruno, California in September, 2010.. In 2017, PG&E’s equipment caused numerous wildfires – and fatalities. In 2018, PG&E’s lack of maintenance of their Caribou-Palermo transmission line cost the residents of Paradise, California at least 85 lives. These instances provide evidence that PG&E is not to be trusted.

        • My point was for a FULL LIFE CYCLE study, not one like the VW/ Audi etc Dieselgate. To make ‘solar panels’ you must make and process Silicon with very toxic materials. What do you do disposing the toxic panels 20 years hence?!

          • Truly full life cycle? How do you handle nuclear waste 10,000 years from now after our civilization has moved on? How do you transport large amounts of nuclear fuel & waste without an inevitable rail accident? How do you account for the inevitable nuclear reactor accidents (yet another last week)? (And I won’t even discuss the problems of petroleum and gas production and coal ash disposal…)

            Truth is EVERY technology has hazards associated with it, some handled better than others, some with much more catastrophic risks than others. We can’t stand around trying to figure out all of the risks for new technologies, when we know the conventional technologies have at least as bad impacts. It’s worthwhile to explore and analyze those impacts, but you have insufficient evidence to single out solar technology as worse than others.

          • @Richard – please stop the fearmongering. Here are some facts:

            1) Human civilization will not exist 500 years from now, much less 10,000, if we don’t take effective steps to reduce global warming immediately. Wait for renewables to pan out, and we might as well throw nuclear waste in the dumpster.
            2) There are no large amounts of nuclear waste. If all the electricity you used in your lifetime was generated by nuclear power, its waste would fit inside an empty Coke can.
            3) The most dangerous radioactive isotopes decay the fastest. Plutonium-239, with a half-life of 23,000 years, can safely be held in your hands.
            4) Less than 600 years after removal from a nuclear reactor, nuclear waste is less radioactive than the ground you walk upon every day.
            5) Nuclear fuel is harmless too (unless you eat it).
            6) Highly-radioactive nuclear waste (like the elements chlorine, arsenic, and mercury) must be transported with care in specially-designed, crash-tested rail cars. In the chance one were to break open and spill its contents, technicians would don protective gear and clean it up. Like chlorine, arsenic, or mercury.
            7) The scary explosion last week was a prototype nuclear propulsion system, not a nuclear power reactor. Local radiation levels rose briefly to 2 µSv/hr (microsieverts/hour) – less than what you’re exposed to on a commercial jet flight.
            8) Cadmium from solar panels is toxic too. Because it takes millions of solar panels to generate as much electricity as a nuclear reactor, future generations are far more likely to be poisoned by cadmium than nuclear waste. Cadmium has no half-life – it lasts forever.

          • I was replying to Azmat’s fearmongering about solar panel disposal. I was illustrating the relative scale of the two hazards.

            As to hazards posed by nuclear waste, tell the people of Chernobyl and Fukushima that they have nothing to fear.

          • By the way Richard – I see clients of your company, MCubed, include virulent anti-nuclear group “Friends of the Earth” and fossil-fuel promoters Western States Petroleum Association.

            What would lead an independent observer to believe the opinions you’ve expressed here represent any kind of objective analysis?

          • We have a wide range of clients. That we can work for both WSPA and FOE (and EDF and Sustainable Conservation) and agriculture and water utiltiies and CCAs is the best illustration that we give relatively unbiased analyses.

          • “As to hazards posed by nuclear waste, tell the people of Chernobyl and Fukushima that they have nothing to fear.”

            They should have been told that immediately after the accidents occurred:

            “By now close to one million people have died of causes linked to the Chernobyl disaster,” wrote Helen Caldicott, an Australian medical doctor, in The New York Times. Fukushima could “far exceed Chernobyl in terms of the effects on public health.”
            But now, eight years after Fukushima, the best-available science clearly shows that Caldicott’s estimate of the number of people killed by nuclear accidents was off by one million. Radiation from Chernobyl will kill, at most, 200 people, while the radiation from Fukushima and Three Mile Island will kill zero people.”

            https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/03/11/it-sounds-crazy-but-fukushima-chernobyl-and-three-mile-island-show-why-nuclear-is-inherently-safe/

            More people died from the panicked evacuation of Fukushima Prefecture than from nuclear energy in its entire history – panic inspired by fearmongering like Helen Caldicott’s and your own.

          • I’m not going with Michael Shellenberger as my credible source on that estimate.
            A range of deaths at Chernobyl according to the UN and other sources: https://www.newsweek.com/chernobyl-disaster-first-responders-true-story-deaths-radiation-1415722
            https://www.newsweek.com/chernobyl-disaster-death-toll-estimates-radiation-cancer-1444029
            And tell that to the 54 who died fighting the fires after the accident. It’s clear from the horrific deaths that occurred in that accident that one cannot hold radioactive fuel in one’s hand. What an absurd statement. Are you saying that we should simply do away with all safety measures at nuclear reactors beyond those of a standard industrial plant? That goes beyond reasonable credibility for which you have no supporting evidence.
            At Fukushima, they closely managed the workers’ exposure to limit deaths and injuries. Still there was one direct death. The accident is too recent to assess long term impacts yet. https://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/a_e/fukushima/faqs-fukushima/en/

          • You’re using EDF as evidence of unbiased analysis? Good one:

            • One of EDF’s largest donors is oil, gas and renewables investor Julian Robertson, who has donated $60 million to EDF and sits on EDF’s governing board.
            • EDF lobbies for subsidies for wind and solar that would directly benefit Robertson and other members of EDF’s board of directors.
            • EDF is one of the most influential anti-nuclear organizations in the United States with revenues of $158 million in 2016.
            • EDF is actively seeking to replace nuclear plants around the country including in the states of California, New York, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania with natural gas and renewables (if you consulted in Ohio, you know EDF lost)
            • After losing in Ohio, EDF is working alongside the American Petroleum Institute to try to shut down 6 billion watts of clean nuclear electricity in Pennsylvania
            • EDF has, since the 1970s,sought to close nuclear plants directly and indirectly by lobbying for laws including federal subsidies and renewable energy mandates that discriminate against nuclear.

            Why not just admit it? You’re being paid to consult organizations which have a monetary interest in shutting down carbon-free nuclear generation as quickly as possible – whatever its effect on climate, whatever the cost of electricity to the public, whatever the safety of the public. You’re not above blatant fearmongering, and misrepresenting the potential benefits of all carbon-free sources of electricity to further your career. If I had your job I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, but everyone’s got to make a living.

          • This is a good explanation of why radiation exposure after Fukushima is unlikely to have significant health effects. It’s not that the radiation releases weren’t dangerous, but rather that the prevailing winds and Japan’s close management reduced exposure tremendously. https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=148227596 Please use the right attribution in the future for why the effects of Fukushima have not been as bad as feared. And the expert being interview notes that Chernobyl was a different story.

          • Bottom line; renewables + gas raised California’s electricity emissions by 2% last year. It’s failing, and I’ve run out of time and interest in trying to teach someone who doesn’t want to learn why.

            Have a nice day.

          • And I’ve explained the one year anomaly. The swings used to be bigger for hydro years when they’re was more has in the system. You are ignoring the huge drop since 2010.

    • I’m not sure my key takeaway from this article about renewables in Mexico is that we should try and incentivize more nuclear in California.

      I’m no expert on Mexico’s electricity sector but as best I can tell the cancellation of these renewables auctions has choked off the prospect of a bunch of low-cost zero-emissions generation being built. This generation was low-cost on a levelized per kwh basis (ie after accounting for capacity factors) and would almost certainly have been displacing fossil fuels, not existing hydro or nuclear. Surely Californians for Green Nuclear Power can get behind that if “green” is the operative word here?

      • Stephen: You appear to wish to ignore the imposed environmental and economic costs that are a consequence the inherent intermittency of solar and wind. In summary, a power grid powering California (or Mexico) sans solar and wind likely produces less emissions than a power grid employing those generation means. It is like the difference between running your vehicle at an essentially constant speed on the open road versus stopping and starting many times in gridlocked city driving. Inefficient, intermittent dispatch of the natural gas fired generation required to “firm” solar and wind increases emissions. As noted above, this is great news for natural gas suppliers, but bad news for ratepayers and the environment. (Any surplus nuclear power could be utilized for water desalination or charging electric vehicles.) BTW, the California Council of Science and Technology(CCST dot US) – California’s analogue to the National Academy of Sciences – was commissioned by the California Energy Commission to prepare a pair of reports in 2010 to determine the most cost-effective way to meet California’s legislated emissions targets. Their answer was to build about 30 nuclear plants here. This did not sit well with the fossil-fuel interests that determine California energy policy. See: https://ccst.us/reports/californias-energy-future-the-view-to-2050/

        • Of course a study done in 2010 found that nuclear was cost effective compared to solar and wind. Vogtl was estimated to cost about $4B and solar and wind were costing more than $100/MWH. (I prepared the CEC’s 2009 Cost of Generation report, and we looked at including nuclear technology at the time, but didn’t believe that we had enough information yet.) By 2013, Vogtl had doubled in cost (and it has doubled again) and solar and wind contracts were coming in at $60/MWH. Now they are down to $30 in some cases. If you’re continuing to rely on 2010 information, you are way out of date. It’s like looking at compute technology in 1985 and relying on a 1975 study.

          (And I see that your fix to the inflexibility of nuclear is another set of not yet widely adopted (and costly in the case of desalination) technologies. Why is this better than noting that storage can be paired with renewables TODAY?)

          California’s GHG emissions continue to fall because we’ve added solar and wind generation, despite your assertions that this is not possible. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-08-12/california-greenhouse-gas-emissions-fell

          • Richard: Your selective responses are unsurprising as ab advocate for solar power.. Per CARB, California vehicle emissions account for 1/3 of the state’s emissions. (In-state power production accounts for about 1/10 of California’s emissions.) If Diablo Canyon’s nigh-time power production were dedicated for recharging electric vehicles, considerable emissions could be avoided today. Here’s one recent analysis https://californiapolicycenter.org/the-opportunity-cost-of-shutting-down-diablo-canyon/ At night, all of the over 12,000 MW of California’s solar generation produce zero power – combusting huge amounts of natural gas firms solar generation about 80% of the time. Despite the many large pumped hydroelectric storage plants already constructed in California, they NOT being used for bulk energy storage. Instead, they must be used to provide voltage and frequency stability to the California power grid, as both solar and wind destabilize the grid. Battery electric storage is far too expensive. – and too small by a factor of 10,000. As a solar power advocate, you continue to desperately grasp at straws to rebut these “inconvenient truths.”

          • “California’s GHG emissions continue to fall…”

            Wrong. With renewables + gas, we’re now officially going backwards:

            “Carbon emissions are rising in the the United States, and it looks like the golden green state of California is part of the problem. Despite putting up acres of solar panels, California’s electric system produced more greenhouse gases in 2018 than in the previous year…emissions from electricity generation rose 1.9 percent across the country, and 2 percent in California.”

            It Was a Bad Year for Carbon Emissions—Even in California
            https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2019/01/it-was-a-bad-year-for-carbon-emissions-even-in-california/

          • 2018 was a dry year after a very wet 2017. A small uptick is expected. Look at the overall trend.

          • BTW, if you had bothered to read the Mother Jones article, it confirmed my explanation:
            “In 2017, California had a relatively wet year, and was able to run water through hydropower turbines when the sun set over solar panels. There was less water to spare last year, so the state turned to gas plants in place of dams.”

            Note also that California has had a pause in adding new renewables as the plants that signed PPAs in the initial wave through 2015 have now been built. Look for another wave soon as the CCAs sign new PPA.

          • OK, so your message would be “when weather conditions are just right, solar and wind can prevent some carbon emissions.” That’s not good enough, and though generating electricity with renewable toys might captivate the imaginations of wealthy advocates in developed countries, most of whom have never spent a single day without electricity, billions of your brethren worldwide depend on reliable energy for their survival. Without a clean source of dispatchable energy, they will continue to burn coal or diesel fuel – and that, too, is not good enough.

            You either have been living in a bubble, have no idea how urgent our climate crisis is, or both. No more time to waste.

          • The same GHG variation would have happened (and has) with a larger nuclear output. 2017 was one of the wettest recorded years. Nuclear wouldn’t have insulated California from that variation. I have run production models of California system for three decades, and I know what influences generation output.

          • What are you talking about? Had San Onofre not been shut down there would have been 2.1 gigawatts of additional clean generation meeting baseload demand on the grid, preventing 7 megatonnes of CO2 emissions each year since, and lowering 2017 emissions by 11%.
            Though wind, clouds, and nighttime cause wind and solar to jump erratically, nuclear remains solid as a rock. If your production models don’t agree, they (and you) are wrong.

          • Not sure who this is, but there have been multiple claims the GHG emissions are RISING in California because we are adding renewables. (This is NOT about whether emissions would be lower with SONGS–this is a claim about whether renewables themselves inherently reduce emissions.) Your argument has been that the addition of renewables requires added gas to back up that generation. This claim is FALSE.
            I have posted several times the CARB data that conclusively shows that emissions have been falling since 2008 as renewables have been added with one year upticks (e.g., 2012 when SONGS closed and then returned to 2011 levels despite 2013 being the second year of the drought.) Look at p.2 for statewide and p.5 for electricity sector data: https://ww3.arb.ca.gov/cc/inventory/pubs/reports/2000_2017/ghg_inventory_trends_00-17.pdf
            If you’ve decided that this is all some vast anti nuke conspiracy (akin to the Kennedy assassination conspiracy with the meeting at Madison Square Garden) then we really know the veracity of your claims. I’m sorry if the actual facts crush your world view, but we need to address realistic solutions to the climate crisis, and not fantasies about a technology that has failed us over and over. When we see a demonstrably cost effective new-gen nuclear plant built and running in the U.S., we can then consider it as part of our portfolio.

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