NewEnergyNews: On The Road Reading: Will Regulators Put the San Onofre Nuclear Plant Back On-Line? Or will they put its operator, SCE, out of business?

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

Every day is Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 5 (continued from yesterday)
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 6
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 7
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 8
  • -------------------

    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

    -------------------

    THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, April 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 1
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 2
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 3
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 4
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY POSSIBILITIES – THE MICHIGAN EXAMPLE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 16: THE RACE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE; THE FAST RISING POTENTIAL OF U.S. NEW ENERGY; BIG TEXAS WIND SHRINKS ELECTRICITY MRKT PRICE
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE MONEY IN NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, April 15: WORLD WIND TO BOOM THRU 2014; NAT GAS AND SOLAR WERE 75% OF U.S. 2013 NEW POWER; MAINE OFFICIALLY AFFIRMS SMART METERS’ SAFETY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THIS COULD BE THE REAL VALUE OF SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, April 14: DE-RISKED RENEWABLES HAVE MORE INVESTORS THAN DEALS; THE MYTH OF CONSOLIDATION IN SOLAR; TEXAS BREAKS MORE WIND RECORDS
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Bill Maher On What’s Happening In The Oceans
  • Weekend Video: The Human Disharmony In The Climate System Symphony
  • Weekend Video: A Few Thoughts About Solar 2.0
  • --------------------------

    --------------------------

    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

    -------------------

    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

    -------------------

    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

    -------------------

    Your intrepid reporter

    -------------------

      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

    -------------------

    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    On The Road Reading: Will Regulators Put the San Onofre Nuclear Plant Back On-Line? Or will they put its operator, SCE, out of business?

    Will Regulators Put the San Onofre Nuclear Plant Back On-Line? Or will they put its operator, SCE, out of business?

    Herman K. Trabish, August 6, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    Southern California Edison (SCE) is a subsidiary of Edison International (EI), and EI's Q2 financials have been hit by the shutdown of the 2,300-megawatt San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

    And when the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) postponed its decision on whether to investigate SCE’s operation of SONGS, it was not giving SCE a pass; it was putting the utility on notice.

    The CPUC’s responsibility, Chair Michael Peevey warned, is “ensuring that the lights stay on both this summer and in the years to come, if this unit ever operates again.” But it was too soon to act on Commissioner Michael Florio’s call for an Order Instituting Investigation (OII), Peevey said.

    What initially appeared to be maintenance issues at SONGS Units Two and Three in January have kept both offline ever since. SCE, a 78 percent owner of the facility, and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), the major co-owner, have scrambled ever since.

    Along with the California Independent System Operator (the ISO), the utilities have brought retired facilities back, inaugurated new transmission, and hardened demand response capabilities. In the shadow of the massive blackouts in India, all parties are bracing for peaking electricity loads during the heat of August and September.

    “Core earnings of $0.32 per share,” reported EI CEO Theodore F. Craver, were “below last year's $0.56 per share.” This 43 percent drop, he went on, includes “continued inspection and repair costs related to the outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.”

    On November 1, Chair Peevey said that in deferring the decision to act now, “SCE is required to file notice pursuant to Section 455.5 of the Public Utilities Code. This is the state law that sets up a procedure if a power plant is out of operation for nine months -- and it requires this Commission to institute an investigation within 45 days.”

    If SONGS is not in service by November 1, Peevey said, the CPUC is required by law to issue the OII and “consider all the costs and reliability issues presented by the SONGS outage.”

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which is responsible for licensing nuclear facilities, determined that “faulty computer modeling inadequately predicted conditions in the steam generators and manufacturing issues contributed to excessive wear of the components,” Craver reported. “The excessive wear arose from tube-to-tube contact caused by vibration in the tubes.”

    The NRC, Craver added, “has identified a number of outstanding issues that it is still reviewing.” SCE, Craver said, is working with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which designed and manufactured the retrofitted SONGS steam generators in 2010, as well as other industry experts and steam generator manufacturers, to analyze causes and find fixes. But “to date,” he admitted, “the inspection and repair effort is focused on a substantial amount of technical analysis work and preventative plugging of tubes.”

    In reply to speculation that SCE is hurrying to restart one of the units, Craver said SONGS “will not be restarted until SCE determines that it is safe to do so and when startup has been approved by the NRC.”

    What that essentially means, Commissioner Florio noted, is that the CPUC “will be proceeding with the investigation, just not today.”

    Section 455.5 states that, if the CPUC investigates a facility, “rates associated with that facility are subject to refund from the date the order instituting the investigation was issued.”

    Several nuclear industry watchers, including Geesman and Dickson Partner John Geesman, formerly of the California Energy Commission, told GTM this could be a potentially significant financial hit for SCE.

    Edison Mission Energy (EME), the other major EI subsidiary, is already in deep financial trouble.

    “EME will not have sufficient liquidity to repay the $500 million in unsecured debt due in June 2013,” Craver reported. If that debt cannot be restructured, “EME would need to be reorganized under new ownership.”

    SCE’s annual revenue requirement for SONGS, according to EI CFO W. James Scilacci, is $650 million. A Section 455.5-initiated investigation could force SCE to write off all or part of that, Geesman said.

    Craver said he expects a “reasonableness review” by the CPUC to relieve SCE of such a burden. An expert in utility matters who requested anonymity called Craver’s conclusion “retroactive ratemaking” and “illegal.”

    Craver also said EI would go to Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited (NEIL) for cost recovery. “We have placed NEIL on notice of potential claims, although insurance recoveries remain uncertain.”

    They are uncertain, Geesman said, because NEIL is less an insurance company than an industry pool, and it is unclear what its resources or responsibilities are.

    Geesman agreed with Craver’s assessment of losses recoverable from Mitsubishi. Its obligation, Craver reported, is “limited to $137 million.” That is, Geesman said, nowhere close to SCE’s cost for the outage and repairs.

    Everyone interviewed on and off the record for this story agreed that Unit Three is unlikely to be back on-line in the foreseeable future.

    Even if SCE brings Unit Two back before an investigation is triggered, Geesman estimated from EI’s financials and other public statements that the total cost for the last seven months would be greater than $190 million.

    And, Geesman noted, “If you bring Unit Two back on-line just for a brief time, have you reset the nine-month clock? And I want to emphasize this company is notorious for shenanigans.”

    It appears Southern Californians will be paying more to keep the electricity flowing this year.

    1 Comments:

    At 6:11 AM, Anonymous Nancy said...

    Thx Herman :)

     

    Post a Comment

    << Home

    *