Instead of demonstrating to influence legislators, sometimes it's better to get elected and legislate: that's what Kyle Jones did in Maine, and he closed the Maine Yankee nuke, de-monopolized the state's electrical utilities, and instituted a 30% renewable energy goal. All this was helped by the nuclear industry's own incompetence.
Bangor Daily News, Page A2, 28 May 1997, Maine Yankee plant may be closed down: Owners weigh repair costs, deregulation,
Cracking in the plant's steam generator tubes, which carry the superheated, radioactive water, was first discovered in 1990. In 1994, Main Yankee officials predicted that the plant's problems were over after they plugged more than 300 of the cracked tubes. However, testing of the tubes during a shutdown for refueling in 1995 revealed as many as 10,000 additional cracked tubes.
Sounds a lot like San Onofre.
At the time, it was estimated that permanently shutting down the plant would cost at least $316 million while, after 23 years of operation, Maine Yankee had collected only $100 million to pay for its decommissioning. The most recent estimate for decommissioning is $369 million, of which only $169 million has been raised as of this month.
Facing the accumulation of these engineering and operational difficulties, the owners of the plant signaled a departure from business-as-usual and, earlier this year, brought in the New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. to provide management services at Maine Yankee.
Oh, my! The same Entergy that's now likely to close Vermont Yankee. And Vermont Yankee wasn't the first to follow this financial path to closure:
Main Public Advocate Steve Ward said it is too soon to tell whether consumers will benefit or suffer from plans to shut down the plant, but he said it is a "good thing for the renewable energy industry" of the state.
“My view is that they are following the same path as Connecticut Yankee and Yankee Rowe [in Massachusetts] that became too costly for the owners to operate,” said Ward, who represents Maine consumers in utility regulatory matters. Both of the other Yankee plants were shut down before their designed life span.
Add Dominion's Kewaunee and Duke's Crystal River and the list of nuclear plants shut down for economic reasons is pretty long, even before Vermont Yankee (probably) and San Onofre 3 (already) and San Onofre 2 (looks more likely all the time).
The move comes as a sweeping electrical deregularion bill awaits King's signature. The bill requires Maine's three investor-owned utilities to sell their power plants by March 1, 2000, with some exceptions.
State Rep. Kyle Jones, House chairman of the Utilities and Energy Committee that sent the bill to the Legislature, said he finds it ironic that a decade after critics urged the plant's closing for public safety reasons, “it has to close because of the pocketbook.”
“Economically it was not favorable for them at the moment to keep pumping money into a plant that may have a life of a day to a decade or more,” said Jones, D-Bar Harbor.
And the only reason those new nukes Southern Company (SO) is building are not a bet-the-farm risk for SO is because of that three-legged nuclear regulatory-capture stool of subsidies that shift the risk onto Georgia Power customers and taxpayers. The Georgia legislature or GA PSC or U.S. Congress could kick any leg out from under that stool and never-powered Vogtle 3 and 4 would fall flat on their mis-poured concrete.