New generation nuclear power project scrapped in SC amid soaring costs

Hi-tech energy infrastructure is rarely more expensive than the construction of nuclear power stations, and the successful decommissioning of them has never been achieved. Thus it makes sense to abandon the 40% complete project and the $9 billion it has cost so far. Mind-boggling.

New generation nuclear power project scrapped in SC amid soaring costs

31 Jul, 2017

Two South Carolina utilities have abandoned a pair of next generation nuclear reactors that would have been America’s first new atomic reactors in almost 40 years. The facilities were expected to be safer and cheaper.

SCANA Corp and state-owned utility Santee Cooper, the two utilities which own the VC Summer twin-reactor project, announced Monday that they were scrapping the multi-billion dollar project due to construction problems and cost overruns.

“We arrived at this very difficult but necessary decision following months of evaluating the project from all perspectives to determine the most prudent path forward,” said the head of SCANA Corp, Kevin Marsh.

The designer and primary contractor of the new generation reactors, Westinghouse Electric Co., was expected to deliver last year, but the project is now less than 40 percent complete. In addition, costs have soared 75 percent and the reactors would not begin to produce power until 2023, Reuters reported.

In March, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy. However, the company was mentioned in a June White House fact sheet which stated: “The United States and India are committed to realizing commercial civil nuclear cooperation, in particular through a contract for six Westinghouse Electric AP-1000 nuclear reactors to be built in Andhra Pradesh, India.”

Nine billion dollars has been spent on the now-abandoned South Carolina project and the state’s utility customers have already been billed for some of the reactors’ early costs. They could also be forced to pay for the rest of the failed project, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

The US has not built new nuclear reactors since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania which saw a partial meltdown of a reactor, Reuters reported.

The new generation reactors were expected to be safer and less costly. With the project now scrapped, the future of large-scale nuclear power plant construction in the US is uncertain.

Many nuclear power plants across the country have struggled financially in the past few years amid falling oil and gas prices, making nuclear energy less competitive.

A number of states, including New York and Illinois, threw lifelines to their nuclear power plants in the form of subsidies, referred to as zero-emission credits. Nuclear energy is recognized as having a very low carbon-emission footprint.

A bill in Ohio would provide the zero-emission credit to its nuclear power plants that have described their financial situation as “urgent.”

Opponents of the subsidy, many of whom are the industry’s competitors, claim these schemes illegally interfere with power markets.

On June 29, President Donald Trump announced that nuclear energy should be “revived” and become part of America’s “global energy dominance.”

“A complete review of US nuclear energy policy will help us find new ways to revitalize this crucial energy resource,” Trump said.

Earlier, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry claimed the field was “strangled all too often because of government regulations.” However, Perry did not specifically say how the government was going to help nuclear energy producers.

A recent study by researchers from Princeton University and the Union of Concerned Scientists cautioned the US against underestimating the risks to nuclear safety, saying a single nuclear fuel fire could lead to fallout “much greater than Fukushima,” referring to the Japanese nuclear disaster caused by the massive tsunami in 2011.

Rome’s Transport System Faces “Meltdown”

This is happening all over the world – people invent hi-tech solutions for the problems cities cause, without reckoning on the cost of maintenance, or even how the maintenace could possibly be done. “This bus depot will last 50 years” – so far out in the future that it effectively forever. But how will the city be able to build its replacement in 50 years’ time, when the demand for buses will be far greater, so the bus depot will need to be bigger? – Build another one outside the city limits, and have the buses taken out there, where they will be in the wrong place? Scoff! “This is a beautiful bus depot, built to our budget, and will last 50 years, the city will have grown richer by then, and technology will have improved – go away!”

Eventually, of course, the 50 years is up, the city has not grown richer, and the technology hasn’t improved, it has got MUCH worse, and now there are no feasible affordable solutions. So the problem gets put in the too hard basket, for later, and the decay gets worse. The problems get even worse when, like sewerage pipes, they are out of sight and out of mind.

Trump on the campaign trail said he was going to spend a trillion dollars on fixing up infrastructure, but never explained where the money was coming from. Trump in office says “This is a very, VERY complex problem, but we will cut taxes on business, the businesses with grow and make more taxable profits, and everything will be alright”

Rome’s Transport System Faces “Meltdown,” On Brink Of Collapse

Tyler Durden
Jul 30, 2017

New York City’s deteriorating subway has a rival for world’s most dysfunctional public transportation system. After only three months on the job, Bruno Rota, the head of Rome’s public-transit company has announced that he’s leaving his post, saying that the Italian capital city’s decaying transportation system should declare bankruptcy, according to Reuters.

Rota’s departure is an embarrassment for the anti-establishment five-star movement and one of its most high-profile politicians, Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi. Since taking office last year, Raggi’s administration has been paralyzed by internal tumult while the city’s infrastructure has continued to decay. The party’s failures in Rome suggest that it’s not prepared to govern, and may have contributed to Five-Star’s losses in a series of municipal elections last month. Meanwhile, the situation could hurt the party’s chances in next year’s general election.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi

“Bruno Rota quit Atac on Friday, just three months after taking charge of the Italian capital’s bus, metro and tram network, saying he was unable to salvage the firm and feared possible legal action tied to any eventual collapse.

“It is an appalling scandal,” said Rota, who was called down to Rome after helping to turn around the transport system in the northern city of Milan. “The situation is worse than you can imagine,” he told la Repubblica newspaper.

Rota’s dramatic departure has triggered yet another crisis for the city’s 5-Star administration, which won power last year in what was seen as a litmus test of whether the anti-establishment group was ready to run Italy.”

City officials are publicly criticizing Raggi, saying that Rome needs a “change in direction” after the city nearly adopted water rationing laws last week amid a worsening drought.

“We need a change of direction. If we carry on like this we will fall apart. The whole city will fall apart,” Andrea Mazzillo, Rome’s third budget chief in a year, told la Repubblica.

In a statement on Facebook, Raggi ordered her team to stop complaining and promised to sort out problems at Atac, which has suffered from many years of chronic neglect and mismanagement.

The company has some 1.3 billion euros ($1.5 billion) of debts and a rate of absenteeism amongst its 12,000-strong workforce of 12 percent, company records show.”

Dozens of Atac buses and trains in need of repair are languishing in the company’s warehouses.

According to an internal Atac report, 36 percent of all the company’s buses are blocked in garages because they have broken down or are undergoing maintenance, with the figure rising to 50 percent for the city’s creaking fleet of trams.

There have also been several embarrassing accidents; earlier this month, a woman suffered severe injuries. When she got dragged down a platform after her handbag was trapped in the door of the train. Videos showed the driver was eating lunch at the wheel and didn’t notice.

Years of underfunding have left the company barely able to pay its employees and contractors, as some Italian newspapers reported that Atac buses were being left in the streets by contractors that had been stiffed by Atac.

“The company is unmanageable. It doesn’t have any money left in its accounts,” said Rota, adding that Atac was no longer able to guarantee the regular payment of salaries or to buy the spare parts it needed to repair its ageing buses and metro trains.

Italian newspapers reported that broken down buses were being left in the street because Atac had not paid the private contractor which it uses to pick up its stranded vehicles.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Raggi offered the usual platitudes…

“‘The situation at Atac is serious, but we are not frightened by adversity and we will move ahead,’ said Raggi on Facebook.”

To be sure, Atac has been a shambles for years. And while the transportation difficulties have engendered dissatisfaction with Raggi, it’s unclear if the incident will negatively impact the five-star movement’s electoral chances. Italian voters have a reputation for being mercurial. Case in point: The center-right party of Prime Minister and billionaire media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, who suffered through a series of scandals during his time in office, is leading the 2018 polls with 30% of the vote,according to CNBC.