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Posted on December 1 at 6:07 p.m.
I thought that such initiatives have to be based on economics (or some other factor) and not on safety, which is the sole purview of NRC. And in this case, it is clear that no economic case can be made. If these two plants are closed, most if not all of their generation will be replaced by fossil fuel (gas) plants. Running an existing nuke (at ~2 cents/kW-hr) is much cheaper than firing up and running old fossil plants or building new fossil or renewable plants.
Yes, CA could close these plants (w/o blackouts, etc..), but why would we want to? Not only will the costs of generating electricity in CA go up, but both air pollution and CO2 emissions will increase as well; a lose-lose-lose.
Also, since nuclear plants employ a far larger number of people than fossil plants (of equivalent capacity), such a move will result in the loss of a large amount of high paying jobs in the state. This is in addition to any jobs lost due to industries leaving the state due to the higher electricity costs. Just what CA needs!
As for public health, safety, and environmental impact, there is almost complete scientific concensus that nuclear is better than gas in all three areas. The record over the last 50 years is very clear on this.
Nuclear plants emit no CO2, and even the entire production cycle has negligible emissions that are similar to renewable sources. Gas plants have significant CO2 emissions (half of coal's).
Nuclear plants do not emit air pollution. Western (non-Soviet) nuclear plants have never caused a public death and have never had any measurable health impact. Even Fukushima has not changed this, with no deaths so far, few if any projected to ever occur, and no measurable public health impact expected. Meanwhile, worldwide fossil fuel use causes ~1000 deaths every single day (from air pollution), as well as global warming.
Yes, the state does have reserve capacity. The newest, most efficient, cleanest (fossil) plants are operated, while the oldest, dirtiest and least efficient plants are held in reserve. These (old, dirty) plants will be placed back into operation if the two nuclear plants are closed. These old plants will emit significant amounts of air pollution (and CO2).
Lest one say that the economic comparison does not consider the possiblity of a severe plant accident, note that there has only been one significant accident in Western (non-Soviet) nuclear power's ~50 year history (Fukushima), which will have a cost on the order of $100 billion. Assuming a severe event frequency of once every ~30 years, and dividing a $100 billion cost by the ~100 trillion kW-hrs worldwide nuclear power generates in 30 years, you get an (insignificant) cost of ~0.1 cents/kW-hr.
Given that the nuclear plants' output will be replaced with old fossil plants, shutting down the nukes would be downright immoral, not to mention utterly irrational.
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