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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Half Lies

Posted on Tue, Nov 13, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Sierra Clubbers in San Anto want to recycle City-owned CPS's energy policy and turn it into something that will last. Of course, first they have to get the clunker to the curb. That will take some doing.

At a press conference this morning, members distributed reports from the steps of City Hall. The pages said a lot about saving energy and generating the same from sources like wind, solar, and biomass. But nowhere do they say what CPS should do about its recent commitment of $206 million to continue a partnership with NRG for two new nuclear plants in Matagorda County. Then there was a small matter of another $10 million to explore an ill-defined "other nuclear options."

I would suggest that the city's first course of corrective action is to stop payment on that check.

Only then can we can get about the business of turning our coal- and nuke-heavy energy policy into something that ushers in the Kingdom of cleanliness and good neighborliness, etc., ad infinitum. No mistake about it, the Sierra Club is right to bring options to the table, options that don't rain fire unto our children's and children's children's cow-licked little heads. Just that we're gonna need that $216 million to clean up after the two plants we have now.

It's going to take a lot more than that — $300 million — just to dispose of the trash from our two existing nuke plants at the South Texas Project, according to CPS's most recent fiscal report. That's if we can find a place to dump it.

Already the cost of ultimate disposal of radioactive waste (which just about the entire plants will qualify for) has risen. In 1998, it was expected to cost $311 million. 2004's figure was $397.4.

While the Dems are stumbling over themselves on Yucca Mountain (that little place we've spent billions trying to turn into a national high-level radioactive waste dump) the site's future is still in limbo.

With Yucca's failing you can bet we would see even more billions needed for decommissioning costs of STP1&2, as rising construction costs tied to a weak dollar and rising crude prices guarantee.

It's a perfect time for CPS board members and city leaders to read and reread the Club's concluding paragraphs, which do offer this gem on nuke power:

"Nuclear power produces radioactive wastes that remain deadly for a thousand generations. Until the nuclear waste problem is solved, CPS Energy should avoid this option."

It's going to take a lot more political pressure to get that refund (back) in the bank. Sierra Clubbers will need allies from across the city to get there. And that means working out more directly the tangle of half-lies that sold the Board of Trustees and the Citizens Advisory Committee on nukes in the first place.

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