How the EPA may force Wisconsin onto more nuclear power

posted at 12:01 pm on January 14, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

This seems to be the law of unintended consequences coming home to roost in Wisconsin for both the EPA and the environmental lobby in the Badger State and it’s hard to suppress a bit of a smile over it. New EPA regulations and the relentless attacks on the coal industry have led to the state needing to make some adjustments in how they produce their power. That probably sounded like a big win for the Green lobby until legislators took a look at their available options and determined that they might have no choice but to put in some more nuclear reactors at some point. (Daily Caller)

The lower-house of Wisconsin’s state legislature passed a bill Tuesday lifting a 33 year-old restriction on the construction of new nuclear power plants in an attempt to comply with federal regulations phasing out coal plants.

Lawmakers who voted for the bill claim the state needs as much flexibility as possible to reduce coal use in order to comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The bill’s Democratic opponents, on the other hand, say natural gas power plants are a better way to comply with EPA mandates than nuclear power.

The bill “doesn’t say we’re going to go to nuclear energy, it doesn’t say we’re going to build a plant,” Republican Representative Kevin Peterson, the bill’s author, said when introducing it.

In order to meet the mandates of the EPA, Wisconsin will have to make some steep carbon cuts. That’s going to come at an estimated cost of as much as $2K per year for the voters and a serious reduction in the amount of power they get from coal currently. (That’s almost 60% of their grid right now.) They get around 15% of their power from the state’s one operational nuclear plant, the Point Beach reactor complex. The environmentalists might have hoped the state would turn to solar and wind, but those are kicking in a grand total of 3.8% of their power and there’s no profitable way to expand that very much in the near future.

The other true bit of irony here is that the EPA and the environmentalists may be forced to take some medicine which may wind up being a fine cure, no matter how distasteful they find it. Nuclear plants produce essentially zero greenhouse gas output and they don’t really “burn” anything in the conventional sense. The two primary byproducts are warm water and energy. Of course, the other thing they produce is spent fuel rods which have traditionally been problematic, but new advances in the science are allowing modern plants to convert their spent rods into new fuel with far less to dispose of. This could be a win win for Minnesota while simultaneously sending the Green lobby into an alcoholic coma.

Who says the EPA never does anything worthwhile? (Well, okay… that’s usually me. But they might produce something good in Wisconsin, albeit unintentionally.)

Nuclear Power Plants


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Comments

and it’s hard to suppress a bit of a smile over it

Bit of a smile heII, we’re talkin’ ear to ear grin.

cozmo on January 14, 2016 at 12:06 PM

They would have to jump a zillion hurdles to build a new nuke plant.

Bertram Cabot Jr. on January 14, 2016 at 12:08 PM

This could be a win win for Minnesota while simultaneously sending the Green lobby into an alcoholic coma.

I thought this was about Wisconsin.

Brian1972 on January 14, 2016 at 12:09 PM

America needs MORE nuclear power.

Pork-Chop on January 14, 2016 at 12:11 PM

Totally fine with more nuclear power, but I don’t know why they can’t just restart the Kewaunee Power Station which only shut down a couple years ago.

xuyee on January 14, 2016 at 12:12 PM

Are those smoke stacks spewing pollution?

newportmike on January 14, 2016 at 12:13 PM

Heh, Jazz

Schadenfreude on January 14, 2016 at 12:14 PM

Schadenfreude, paging Mister Schadenfreude, would Mister Schadenfreude please pick up the White Courtesy phone in the lobby…

oscarwilde on January 14, 2016 at 12:17 PM

This could be a win win for Minnesota

Posting drunk from Minnisconsin again, Bishop? Oh, its Jazz- sorry.

Jazz probably can’t see much difference between MN and WI, with his New York values and all.

Dolce Far Niente on January 14, 2016 at 12:17 PM

Are those smoke stacks spewing pollution?

newportmike on January 14, 2016 at 12:13 PM

In case you weren’t being facetious- those are not “smokestacks”, they are cooling towers and that is steam (water vapor) coming out of them.

M240H on January 14, 2016 at 12:19 PM

The real problem here in Wisconsin is that voting cattle herd will never tie Sen. Tammy Baldwin to their higher energy bills even though her Senate web page has bragged for years about her marching happily with Obama on his energy plan.

M240H on January 14, 2016 at 12:22 PM

Are those smoke stacks spewing pollution?

newportmike on January 14, 2016 at 12:13 PM

It’s called water vapor.
Water does that when you make it very hot. True story.

Looking forward to a thousand nuclear plants blossoming forth.
To save the drowning polar bears, of course.

orangemtl on January 14, 2016 at 12:22 PM

Hey Jazz

This is off topic by over at Mediaite they have an update saying that Sen. Cruz did indeed list those loans with FEC and have documentation. Do you know if that is trustworthy?

Cindy Munford on January 14, 2016 at 12:24 PM

I would not hold my breath on more nuclear. Environmental groups find the right enviro-liberal judges, and they can tie that up in courts for decades.

Marcola on January 14, 2016 at 12:26 PM

Cindy Munford on January 14, 2016 at 12:24 PM

He did it later, after the senatorial election cycle.

Schadenfreude on January 14, 2016 at 12:29 PM

oscarwilde on January 14, 2016 at 12:17 PM

I could tell that you were calling on me :)

Schadenfreude on January 14, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Are those smoke stacks spewing pollution?

newportmike on January 14, 2016 at 12:13 PM

Steam. And water vapor is a greenhouse gas. Guess we’ll have to declare water a pollutant and shutdown all nuclear power plants now.

NotCoach on January 14, 2016 at 12:33 PM

For Cindy, looks like they did it within the cycle.

Schadenfreude on January 14, 2016 at 12:34 PM

Do not fear, Wisconsin, according to 98% of all scientists, the Earth is warming uncontrollably and you will soon have no winter and, therefore, no need to generate power to warm your homes. /

dolfan on January 14, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Schadenfreude on January 14, 2016 at 12:14 PM

I don’t know why you get your own thread, but since you do, any special rules?

Immolate on January 14, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Ha Ha!

Nelson Muntz

22044 on January 14, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Schadenfreude on January 14, 2016 at 12:29 PM

They have the date of the paperwork highlighted a 7/09/12. That was after the election?

Cindy Munford on January 14, 2016 at 12:36 PM

Schadenfreude on January 14, 2016 at 12:34 PM

Thanks.

Cindy Munford on January 14, 2016 at 12:37 PM

EPA states the “Viewing the Forest from the Trees” is a pollutant. Will recommend that all Forests be vacated for 75 years.

Goodie on January 14, 2016 at 12:39 PM

I don’t know why you get your own thread, but since you do, any special rules?

Immolate on January 14, 2016 at 12:35 PM

I’m just special (joke, joke)

Envy is sinful.

Schadenfreude on January 14, 2016 at 12:40 PM

Our area has, for its time, the latest and greatest coal burning plant. It looks like a nuclear plant. Supposedly the Clinton administration gave the area money to help build it. Now the Obama administration wants it taken down. You can’t trust Washington.

Cindy Munford on January 14, 2016 at 12:40 PM

any special rules?

Immolate on January 14, 2016 at 12:35 PM

On more serious note, you pick a nom with universal joy in the misery of others :)

Schadenfreude on January 14, 2016 at 12:41 PM

Decades were wasted because the “environmentalists” – otherwise known as aging New Left folks – did all they could to stop the development of nuclear energy.

grumpyank on January 14, 2016 at 12:44 PM

The real problem here in Wisconsin is that voting cattle herd will never tie Sen. Tammy Baldwin to their higher energy bills even though her Senate web page has bragged for years about her marching happily with Obama on his energy plan.

M240H on January 14, 2016 at 12:22 PM

Not entirely. Many of the farmers here in driftless are paying CLOSE attention to their electric rates.

WryTrvllr on January 14, 2016 at 1:03 PM

Although there is nothing wrong with more nuclear, the government (EPA) should get out of the way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with coal either and by putting more regulations on energy to satisfy the green scammers will cost this country dearly. Is there any wonder the country wants to elect candidates who represent the polar opposite of Obama and the Dems.

Tonynoboloney on January 14, 2016 at 1:12 PM

In case you weren’t being facetious- those are not smokestacks”, they are cooling towers and that is steam (water vapor) coming out of them.

M240H on January 14, 2016 at 12:19 PM

Water vapor will be the next greenhouse gas. So we’ll have to shut down these nukes as well as no more tea kettles.

txdoc on January 14, 2016 at 1:23 PM

I thought there was some pre-design nuclear plants that are approved by the feds. But no mind – find a state judge to ignore the environmental weenies and go forward.

Zomcon JEM on January 14, 2016 at 1:45 PM

xuyee on January 14, 2016 at 12:12 PM
Age is the main problem. Cheaper to build coal fired than built extra gas lines to handle the increase. Stupid Obama EPA flips that upside down. Good news is new nuke plants smaller, cheaper to operate. Bad news is administrated crap it will take to license. Frankly, from a cost and security aspect. Nuke plants wins hands down. But given the green lobby hate of Walker, they will go to the mat to stop any new nuke plant built.

flackcatcher on January 14, 2016 at 2:06 PM

They would have to jump a zillion hurdles to build a new nuke plant.

Bertram Cabot Jr. on January 14, 2016 at 12:08 PM

Not really. Dominion already has the Kewaunee site which has all the approvals in place. Plenty of room at the site too for new construction. Then just down the road about six miles is Point beach. Another large site with a small nuke already in place.

Totally fine with more nuclear power, but I don’t know why they can’t just restart the Kewaunee Power Station which only shut down a couple years ago.

xuyee on January 14, 2016 at 12:12 PM

Kewaunee, owned by Dominion, is just too small a plant to be economical to run. I retired from Dominion and actually worked at the plant as a contractor for a few months. Had some very interesting conversations with plant management folks, most of whom were close friends that I had worked with for over 20 years. All of us agreed that buying the place was a mistake and nothing more than a money hole. Shutting it down was totally economic. Building a new plant, now that the moratorium is out of the way, is a definite possibility. Won’t be in my lifetime though.

Oldnuke on January 14, 2016 at 2:29 PM

Meanwhile nuclear power plants are shutting down in New England (e.g. Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim) and New York (i.e. Fitzpatrick)… It will be a cold day in hell (I mean Wisconsin) when they build another nuclear unit in North America. Don’t hold your breathe… it will never happen.

RedManBlueState on January 14, 2016 at 2:30 PM

In case you weren’t being facetious- those are not “smokestacks”, they are cooling towers and that is steam (water vapor) coming out of them.

Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, you know. More potent than CO2.

Socratease on January 14, 2016 at 2:35 PM

And it’s bird friendly.

antipc on January 14, 2016 at 3:09 PM

And it’s bird friendly.

antipc on January 14, 2016 at 3:09 PM

Kewaunee actually had a hawk’s nest on top of their containment, complete with chicks when I was there. They had a closed circuit TV setup so the employees could check in on the chick’s progress.

Oldnuke on January 14, 2016 at 3:46 PM

The picture is Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle, Units 1 and 2, near Waynesboro, GA. Units 3 and 4 have been under construction there for a couple of years……

ultracon on January 14, 2016 at 3:57 PM

Meanwhile nuclear power plants are shutting down in New England (e.g. Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim) and New York (i.e. Fitzpatrick)… It will be a cold day in hell (I mean Wisconsin) when they build another nuclear unit in North America. Don’t hold your breathe… it will never happen.

RedManBlueState on January 14, 2016 at 2:30 PM

What I was thinking.

Back in the ’50s they projected that nuclear power would be the mode of power generation by the beginning of the twenty-first century. It didn’t pan out that way, did it?

Part of the promise was that this form of energy would be cheap. Sometimes it is a good deal, sometimes it’s not. So what investor is willing to risk putting up some big bucks for a new power plant?

This is especially true right now the way the energy commodity markets are. They’re laying off tens of thousands in the boom oil sands/shale areas.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 14, 2016 at 5:29 PM

Did I miss something? Is this not happening now?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/tva-cleared-to-start-first-new-u-s-nuclear-power-plant-in-nearly-20-years-1445551025

WryTrvllr on January 14, 2016 at 5:50 PM

http://www.nei.org/Issues-Policy/New-Nuclear-Energy-Facilities/Building-New-Nuclear-Facilities

because this says we’ve started new ones. Did something change?

WryTrvllr on January 14, 2016 at 5:51 PM

If the left was serious about climate change there would be multiple Nuclear powerplants going up in every state. It is the only current technology available that could reduce co2 emissions.
They’re not serious.

lowandslow on January 14, 2016 at 7:09 PM

In case you weren’t being facetious- those are not smokestacks”, they are cooling towers and that is steam (water vapor) coming out of them.

M240H on January 14, 2016 at 12:19 PM

Water vapor will be the next greenhouse gas. So we’ll have to shut down these nukes as well as no more tea kettles.

txdoc on January 14, 2016 at 1:23 PM

–and stretch vapor barriers over all lakes and streams.

merlich on January 14, 2016 at 7:09 PM

It will be a cold day in hell (I mean Wisconsin) when they build another nuclear unit in North America. Don’t hold your breathe… it will never happen.

RedManBlueState on January 14, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Wrong. Five new reactors are being built in the US right now (Summer 2 and 3, Vogtle 3 and 4, and Watts Bar 2).

Daft Punk on January 14, 2016 at 9:48 PM

“…new advances in the science are allowing modern plants to convert their spent rods into new fuel…”

Spent fuel reprocessing is as old as the Manhattan project. The traditional reason for not doing it has been nonproliferation, since (depending on how the reactor is run) the plutonium thusly produced can be weapons-grade. Of course, nonproliferation might be a dead letter now that we’re letting the Iranians and Norks have nukes.

pat buchanatar on January 14, 2016 at 10:51 PM

Gotta love it when the greenies are stuck in a lose-lose situation of their own making.

wearyman on January 15, 2016 at 4:40 PM

because this says we’ve started new ones. Did something change?

WryTrvllr on January 14, 2016 at 5:51 PM

The article you posted was written by the nuclear power lobby, so I’d take that with a grain of salt.

Approval to build a new plant is one thing, getting investors to back its actual construction complete with built in cost overruns is another.

Maybe.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 16, 2016 at 10:03 AM