To the editor:
I was astounded to read that Florida, the Sunshine State, is allowing FPL to build two new nuclear plants. The current issue of "Foreign Affairs," a most prestigious journal, also has three scientists explaining the advances nuclear has made in efficiency and safety. To wit; they are (1) using gravity feed to control a meltdown, unlike Fukushima which relied on electrical pumps which failed, and (2) gain in efficiency over the original (but not mentioned ) 4 percent net return on investment over the life of the plant.
The fact that there is still no nuclear repository for the deadly spent fuel rods, was only mentioned in passing by commenting that there are plans for a nuclear waste-dump, it's just that no one wants it in their backyard. Eventually, I suppose, one group will trump another, and somebody will get the economic boost to their local economy.
What is never mentioned is the insurance against catastrophic meltdown. Back in Eisenhower's administration, when they were considering blasting a new nuclear Panama Canal, the Federal Government agreed to insure all catastrophes to nuclear plants over $500 million. That federal insurance is still in effect. Now the government requires $1.4 billion in insurance.
Now, back to Turkey Point. Why not solar in the Sunshine State? Well, If you build a solar plant, your local state supervised monopoly gets to charge consumers enough to build the plant, and gain 10 percent profit for their stockholders. If they build a solar plant, they also have to buy back electricity fed into their grid from rate payers who might begin putting solar on their roofs, once they see the advantages. Furthermore, the solar plant could be built on public land where the FPL could not charge rate payers for land acquisition costs.
But if they build a nuclear plant, with predictable cost overruns, they get to charge 10 percent profit on hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. So 10 percent on a solar plant of $50 million would net a gross profit of $5 million, but on a nuclear plant (or two) of $500 million would net our local monopoly $50 million. (These are all rough guesses). But my experience back in Michigan, 30 years ago, was when I hired an electrician who had quit his job at the nuclear plant construction because he hated to go behind a building every day and play cards with other useless workers, who were simply raising the ante for the utility to charge rate payers in the aforementioned scheme. Finally, disgust and fraud exposure caused the utility to convert the plant to natural gas, and an added plus was, the utility bought surplus "steam" from the Dow Chemical Company down the road.
So rate payers pay the nuclear utility for $500 million insurance, then taxpayers (also the same rate payers) pay all other costs of a catastrophe. The rate payers pay for extremely high construction costs, and 50 years later, they pay for shut down costs. And all this while the sun just keeps shining away over our beloved Florida, the "Sunshine State."