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MidAmerican energy revisits nuclear, this time in Iowa March 12, 2010

Posted by cleanidahoenergy in Energy policy, nuclear industry, Payette County, Warren Buffet.
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As many people know, Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy proposed building a nuclear power plant in Payette County in 2007 and did some preliminary studies (they were considering a different site than we are in Payette). But the company announced in December 2007 that it wasn’t moving forward, saying the decision was “based on economic considerations and not on issues related to the suitability of the Idaho site.”

Apparently, MidAmerican has found some new sources of funding and is considering building a nuclear plant in Iowa. The state senate there has voted to allow MidAmerican to increase electric consumer rates to fund a three-year, $15 million feasibility study of what would be Iowa’s second nuclear plant, according to World Nuclear News. This will amount to a $4 per year increase in residential customers’ electricity bills, with a $15 increase for commercial customers and $1100 for industrial customers.

I certainly understand the need for this kind of study. In fact, we have spent around $10 million conducting similar studies in Owyhee, Elmore and Payette counties. What’s most noteworthy, however, is that no Idaho utility ratepayer has given us a dime – nor should they.

While our critics call us a “merchant power plant” (presumably merchant farmers, merchant computer chip makers and merchants in general are okay), we are a completely investor-funded operation. We will fund studies, applications and construction of our plant on the private market, without having to ask government bodies for rate increases. In the best tradition of private enterprise, it will be up to us to find a way to make it pencil out financially and recoup our investment in the free market.

Nuclear critics took Buffet’s 2007 withdrawal from Idaho as a sign that a nuclear plant cannot be profitable (although it is hard to imagine them applauding a profitable nuclear plant), but they were wrong then and they are more obviously wrong now. I know from experience that nuclear plants are very profitable, generating as much as $3 million a day in profit. While they have high initial capital costs, uranium is inexpensive and the plants last for decades. Warren Buffet must know this as well.

Developing a nuclear plant requires extensive study and we wish MidAmerican the best in their venture. We have charted a course, however, that will not require any utility payers to subsidize our costs, and that’s a good thing for Idaho.

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Comments»

1. Erich Riesenberg - May 3, 2010

When you claim nuclear energy is profitable you flat out ignore the Price Anderson Act, right?

There would not be nuclear power in this country without federal aid, right?

The lies don’t stop. Shame on you.

2. Dr. Van Grootheist - July 25, 2010

In reference to person who questions the viability of nuclear power generated electricity profitability without Federal aid, I would have this person ask the same question about wind power, solar power, ethanol, biodiesel and geothermal energy programs. No to mention the giant coal companies and the millions of tons of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants that spew daily into the atmosphere. What about the sickening safety record of the coal behemoths, and the powerful coal lobby who have the Federal Government in their pockets. Before you give an uneducated, ignorant opinion about something, I suggest you actually READ!!?? and find out the facts.


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