LETTER: Support for clean energy more beneficial than another nuclear plant

Monday, November 29, 2010 | 1:34 p.m. CST

Governor Nixon and a consortium of Missouri utilities have once again let the nuclear genie out of its bottle, announcing their intent to build a second nuclear power plant in Callaway County and to pursue state legislation that will enable utilities to charge customers for the costs of obtaining the site permit for the plant.

Proponents claim that a new nuclear plant would be a boon for Missouri's economy. But the irony is that the Missouri's renewable energy standard — the primary vehicle for getting real clean energy jobs in Missouri and setting us on the right path for tackling global warming — is now at risk of being gutted in the state legislature.

In 2008, two-thirds of Missourians approved the Missouri Renewable Energy Standard at the ballot. The standard requires utilities to get 15 percent of their energy from clean energy sources such as solar and wind by 2021. The standard is projected to create over 9,500 jobs and stimulate $2.86 billion in economic activity in Missouri.

In July a state legislative committee called the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) removed a key provision that would require the renewable energy from the standard to come from Missouri, opening the door for utilities to instead buy renewable energy credits from other states or producers around the globe. If the JCAR decision passes the legislature in January, it will cost Missouri clean energy jobs and overturn the will of Missouri voters.

Instead of getting bogged down with yet another attempt in the legislature to make Missourians bear the financial and environmental risks of nuclear power, our  lawmakers can restore our clean energy jobs by voting against the JCAR amendments in January.

Ted Mathys is an advocate for Environment Missouri, statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.

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Michael Williams November 29, 2010 | 4:56 p.m.

Trib refugee trying to post on the Missourian's webpage.

test, test.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 29, 2010 | 5:57 p.m.

1- What's wrong with having BOTH "clean energy" AND another nuclear plant? Define "clean." The nuclear plant emits no appreciable carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) nor does it emit particulate matter. "Clean" these days appears to be a most highly relative term. :)

2- Homework assignment: Look up the word "troglodyte" in a dictionary. (When Henry Wallace used that term in a radio speech years ago he had everybody running for their dictionaries.)

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking November 29, 2010 | 6:40 p.m.

The main reason the renewable energy standard will not generate the jobs cited is that utilities will not be able to add the required amounts of renewable energy sources without raising their rates more than 1 percent. Renewable energy is more expensive than any conventional source, including nuclear, when you look at total energy generated (not just peak generation capacity). It's the fraction of peak capacity that the generation method actually makes, relative to its peak capacity. Baseload sources (coal and nuclear) are in the range of 0.8-0.9, where wind and solar do well to make 0.3.

Also, Missouri doesn't have the best conditions for either wind or solar, and it might be a better investment for some of these companies to buy credits from utilities where they do have good conditions. Our manufacturing capacity for renewables is constrained, for many reasons, and it makes sense to install what renewables we have in good places.

Unless we're willing to get by on less electricity, I think we should build the nuke and also as much wind and solar as we can. Coal is the real problem here, and the sooner we can get away from that the better.


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith November 30, 2010 | 5:00 a.m.

Agree with Mark Foecking except for his last paragraph.

Coal is indeed a problem if burned as it presently is. Not only do we have problems with the coal itself, but a considerable amount of energy (in the form of diesel-electric locomotives) is being consumed hauling coal around (from mine to point of use). At least three major American railroads are heavily engaged in hauling coal*, either to end uses in the United States or to port for shipment overseas.

Technology to end burning lump or pulverized coal already exists. Coal can be gasified at or near the mine and the gas piped to end use locations as a clean product. Yes, the products of combustion will contain the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, but so do the products of combustion of natural gas, fuel oil and "biomass," that some folks are now touting. Look up "Sasol" or "Sasol process" with a word search engine. As good as this process now is, it can and should be improved upon.

Coal gasification isn't new: a patent for a process was actually granted near the end of the 18th Century! I encountered it as an industrial fuel source in Western Pennsylvania years ago, but it historically has been a dirty and inefficient means of creating a combustible gas. Not any more.

Why does he (Ellis Smith) keep harping on coal? Coal is the United States' largest single fuel resource, and one that is independent of foreign interventions to cut its supply. It is not my fault that God chose to bless us with an abundance of coal! (God may indeed have a sense of humor.)

*- For at least two of them, it's probably the only thing that keeps them in the black (no pun intended). Go to Washington, Missouri and take a seat at the American Bounty Restaurant (outside seating is available in warm weather months). Sit there for an hour (the food and drink are very good) and count the number of Union Pacific trains going by carrying coal in open hopper cars, or returning strings of empty hopper cars to the mine.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire December 8, 2010 | 12:28 p.m.

Oh wow. God chose to give us coal so it must be right.

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