Part 1 presented a new study by power plant cost expert Craig Severance that puts the generation costs for power from new nuclear plants at from 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour — triple current U.S. electricity rates!
Those ideologically promiscuous folks at the Heritage Foundation have replied with “New Study on Staggering Cost of Nuclear Energy, Staggeringly Pessimistic.” Craig’s point by point response follows a few of my comments.
Heritage is a leader of the conservative
movement stagnation. They have written “the only thing a green ‘New Deal’ will do is lead us down a Green Road to Serfdom,” comparing such a policy to “collectivism in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany,” and their Senior Policy Analyst in Energy Economics and Climate Change is quite confused about both of the subjects he analyzes (see “Heritage even opposes energy efficiency“).
The key paragraph in Heritage’s new critique is:
Aside from the cherry-picking of data and its clear tilt toward Big Green (the vast industrial complex and lobbying machine being built around global warming alarmism), its conclusions are potentially not that far off.
Yes Heritage is among those pushing the grand climate conspiracy, whereby the world’s National Academies of Science (including ours), the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, every major government in the world, and the leading science journals are conspiring to deceive the public — see Diagnosing a victim of anti-science syndrome (ASS).
[Note to Heritage: 'Big' Green is a "Vast industrial complex"? The nuclear and fossil fuel industries have maybe 50 times the revenues of the cleantech industry. So what does that make them -- gargantuan? Try not to be so paranoid -- For 30 years now (100 years?), your guys have had the ball and written the rules.]
And still, they can’t really dispute the conclusions. They can only try to blame environmentalists (i.e. the public) for supposedly slowing down the construction of nuclear power plants and running up the costs. But given that the public is assuming most of the liability of any major nuclear accident and given that the public is now assuming most of the economic risk of new nuclear plants with major loan guarantees (see “Nuclear energy revival may cost $315 billion, with taxpayers’ risking over $100B“), it is hard to argue against the public weighing in to ensure that the plants are built and run safely and affordably!
Indeed, to support the public taking all the risk of new plants while opposing the public having any say in the licensing process is some strange combination of socialism and totalitarianism. Hmm. Could that be Soviet collectism? Nah.
The Heritage critique notes, “As one who believes in the value of nuclear energy, I am fully supportive of removing all the subsidies and government preferences and allowing the market to decide. If Big Green is so confident, then they should be prepared to do the same.”
If the government removed all subsidies and preferences for nuclear, we probably wouldn’t build another nuke. They simply couldn’t get insured or financed. I support removing subsidies and preferences for any power source that has more than a 5% market share. Nuclear is a mature technology and has seen vastly more subsidies than renewables, whereas many renewables are still coming down the cost curve and deserve government support (see “Nuclear Pork — Enough is Enough“).
That said, once we have correctly priced carbon dioxide to reflect its full harm to our health and well-being, then I would certainly be for removing virtually all subsidies and preferences for existing energy sources (though technologies with less than, say 1% marketshare could still get temporary support).
Finally, in Part 1, I wrote “So feel free to criticize the analysis, but anyone offering different all-in cost estimates for power from new nuclear plants should detail their own assumptions and calculation.” Heritage did not do that, so no one should take their critique too seriously. Nonetheless, here is Craig Severance’s detailed response: