John Locke Foundation attacks continue despite federal data fortifying NC WARN’s July finding that solar power is now cheaper than juice from new nukes
Statement by Executive Director Jim Warren:
DURHAM, NC – Cost estimates for new nuclear power have risen by 37 percent in 2010, while those for solar energy fell by 10-25 percent, according to a federal energy agency. This fortifies NC WARN’s “Historic Crossover” study published in July – despite continuing efforts by the John Locke Foundation to promote the nuclear industry and to discredit both solar power and NC WARN.
The federal Energy Information Administration reported last month that the average cost for new nuclear power plants in the U.S. has risen by 37% in the past year. NC WARN believes the EIA is still underestimating the overall costs, in part because utilities have been slow to publish updated cost estimates; in Florida and other states, electricity customers have revolted against rate hikes being levied even before nuclear projects have either final designs or construction licenses.
Last week, the Raleigh-based Locke Foundation circulated a radio discussion between two Locke staff members who repeated their criticisms against a July NC WARN study authored by Dr. John Blackburn. In our study, the former Duke University economics department chairman demonstrated that the price of new solar power in North Carolina has now fallen below that of electricity that new nuclear plants would generate – if any plants could ever be completed.
Among the Locke staffers’ fundamental misunderstandings about our report is their claim that we compared solar power net of subsidies but excluded nuclear’s subsidies, thus giving solar an advantage. This criticism has continued even after we explained to them – by phone and in writing – the plain fact that we indeed incorporated the nuclear subsidies, as summarized in the following passage from our report and explained in much greater depth in our narrative:
“As pointed out in the summary above, solar and nuclear costs given here reflect the costs that would actually be paid by consumers. They are net of a variety of financial incentives for each technology. This is as close as one can get to an “apples to apples” comparison …”
Soaring cost estimates, design problems and the absence of private lending is causing collapse of the U.S. nuclear revival except in southern states held captive by utility monopolies that control state governments. We trust that the libertarian Locke Foundation will join consumer groups to oppose NC legislative efforts by Duke Energy and Progress Energy to further shift financial risks to customers.
In March, Duke CEO Jim Rogers will personally press the NC Utilities Commission to approve nearly $500 million in “pre-development” costs for the Lee Station nuclear project – even though Duke insists it has not yet decided to attempt construction of the plant.
Nuclear power would not even exist if not for hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies over the decades. It will be interesting to see who lines up to support Duke Energy’s multi-billion dollar nuclear tax and annual rate hikes for years into the future.
See the Energy Information Administration report here.
See NC WARN’s Solar-nuclear cost report here.