Nuclear Costs

Estimates for new reactor construction costs continue to sky-rocket. Conservative estimates range between $6 and $12 billion per reactor but Standard & Poor's predicts a continued rise. The nuclear power industry is lobbying for heavy federal subsidization including unlimited loan guarantees but the Congressional Budget Office predicts the risk of default will be well over 50 percent, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Beyond Nuclear opposes taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies for the nuclear energy industry.



SCE&G and VC Summer, by the numbers

Published by The State in South Carolina, summarizing the massive cost overruns (in the many billions of dollars), at ratepayer expense, that led to Westinghouse Nuclear's bankruptcy, and the cancellation of the Summer Units 2 & 3 proposed new reactor construction projects.


Dr. Mark Cooper: The Failure of the Nuclear Gamble in South Carolina

Regulators can save consumers billions by pulling the plug on Summer 2 & 3, already years behind schedule and billions over budget; things are likely to get much worse if the project continues.

So warns Dr. Mark Cooper, in a new report. Cooper is Senior Fellow for Economic Analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School.

Cooper prepared this report on behalf of Friends of the Earth and Sierra Club, in support of their complaint before the South Carolina Public Service Commission.

Friends of the Earth issued a press release. It contains links to Dr. Cooper's report; a Summary of Key Findings; and the Complaint filed on June 22, 2017 by Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club with South Carolina Public Service Commission, linked under “matters” in Docket 2017-207-E (Dr. Cooper serves as the two groups' expert witness on this Complaint).


Beyond Nuclear joins opposition to extending production tax credits for new reactors years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget

"Burning Money" image by Gene Case of Avenging Angels. It was featured on a 2003 Nation magazine cover, accompanying an article by Christian Parenti about the nuclear power relapse.Beyond Nuclear has joined in coalition with a dozen more organizations, sending a letter to U.S. House of Representatives leadership, Re: Opposition to H.R. 1551 – amending tax credit provisions for “advanced” nuclear power.

The groups are protesting efforts to reward nuclear utilities, and even reactor vendors and uranium mining companies, for the failures at such new reactor construction sites as Vogtle 3 & 4 in GA, and Summer 2 & 3 in SC.

These proposed new reactors are each billions of dollars over budget, and many years behind schedule. And yet, this legislation would extend production tax credits for new nuclear generation, because the half-built reactors are going to miss their deadline for taking advantage of the subsidy. The subsidy was first enacted in 2005 under the Energy Policy Act signed by George W. Bush. Many of these same environmental coalition groups opposed the production tax credits 12 years ago, and opposed numerous other nuclear power subsidies to boot!

Extending the production tax credit could cost U.S. taxpayers many billions of dollars, if the new reactors are ever actually completed, and generate electricity.


TMI Alert Press Release - planned closure of Three Mile Island

for immediate release:                                                
Three Mile Island Alert                                  5/30/2017

Contact:  Scott D. Portzline 717-232-8863 and cell 717-421-7574
Three Mile Island Alert suspects that the announcement of Three Mile Island's planned closure is actually an attempted "shot across the bow" of PA's Nuclear Caucus.  It is designed to make the General Assembly pass legislation to rescue nuclear power.
Scott Portzline of TMI Alert said, "Exelon has used this same tactic in the last two years to pressure the states of Illinois and New York to artificially restructure the playing field. The result was tens-of-billions of dollars in bailouts for nuclear plants. This nation has already bailed out the nuclear power fleet on several occasions to the tune of a third of a trillion dollars. Nuclear power is not economically feasible and Wall Street knew that 20 years ago."
Portzline said, "Exelon took a very bad risk and should face the consequences. It was like betting that the mythical Washington Generals would beat the Harlem Globetrotters, it just wasn't going to happen. PA has a surplus of electricity and our taxpayers and ratepayers should not be forced to salvage a doomed decision."
Three Mile Island Alert believes that PA Legislators should pave the way for upstart wind and solar power equipment manufacturers. Pennsylvania could in effect create 20 times more jobs than are lost to nuclear plant closures. Nuclear power releases thousands of tons of chemicals into PA waterways and the mining and processing of nuclear fuel take a heavy toll on carbon releases to the atmosphere. Alternative power does not represent a terrorist target like nuclear reactors do.
Three Mile Island Unit #2 provided electricity for less than 90 days, yet a federal court ordered ratepayers to continue to pay for the destroyed power plant as if it were benefiting the area. TMI Alert believes that Pennsylvanians have already endured too many financial hardships from nuclear power.

Ratepayers and taxpayers could lose many billions of dollars in return for zero electricity, if Westinghouse bankruptcy leads to cancellation of four partially constructed atomic reactors

Construction Work in Progress (CWIP), also known as advance cost recovery, is illegal in most states.

It was outlawed by popular referendum in Missouri in 1976, for example. In Indiana, CWIP's illegality led to the cancellation of partially constructed atomic reactors, when would-be nuclear utilities were busted in court by Citizen Action Coalition for trying to do it anyway, despite its illegality.

But the state governments of Georgia and South Carolina decided to make CWIP legal, in order to force ratepayers to fund construction of four Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors: Vogtle Units 3 & 4 in Georgia, and Summer Units 2 & 3 in South Carolina. CWIP was made legal in South Carolina by the Base Load Review Act.

But Westinghouse Nuclear declared bankruptcy on March 29th, due to the massive cost overruns (in the billions of dollars), due to years-long construction delays, at the four reactors. There is a distinct possibility that all four reactors could be cancelled.

Already, after nine rate hikes in just the past several years, nearly 20% of South Carolina ratepayers' payments on their electric bills go toward the construction of Summer 2 & 3. If Summer 2 and/or 3 are cancelled, ratepayers will have invested billions of dollars, without receiving so much as one kilowatt-hour of electricity.

But at least if the two reactors are cancelled, the people of South Carolina won't face decades of "routine" radioactivity releases, as well as the risk of catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity, due to reactor core meltdowns, or high-level radioactive waste storage pool fires.

Vogtle 3 & 4 are also being financed through CWIP, through a surcharge on ratepayer bills, a veritable nuclear tax. In addition, Vogtle 3 & 4 were awarded $8.3 billion of federal taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees, with zero credit subsidy fee. This means, if the Vogtle 3 & 4 construction project defaults on its loan repayment, that entire amount -- 15 times more taxpayer money than was lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default -- could be lost to the U.S. Treasury.

For more information on the Westinghouse Nuclear bankruptcy declaration, and its implication for the ratepayers of Georgia and South Carolina (as well as for U.S. taxpayers, given the Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear loan guarantees), please see Beyond Nuclear's Loan Guarantees website section.