At the moment ISO-NE's is using about 15,000 MW of electricity.  35%  of that electricity is coming from 4 nuclear generators with a combined capacity of 4000 MW that consistently operate at a 90% capacity factor year after year. On the opposite end of the efficiency spectrum, 104 MW is coming from over 800 MW of installed capacity of wind turbines that occupy over 80 miles of New England's ridges.  That has been the story all summer long - the time of peak demand on the system.

Developers have submitted queue requests for an additional 4000 MW of wind mostly in Maine.  So we will have nearly 5000 MW of wind generating during peak demand at about a 10% capacity factor,  and contributing only about 5% of the sum total of each one of our requests for electricity.  

We would only need to build 2 more nuclear reactors, making a total of 6 in New England, to supply as much electricity as all of the wind turbines and solar panels that can be squeezed into our mountains and meadows. 

Today's reactors are safe, produce very little radioactive waste since the spent fuel can be recycled, and provide clean dependable electricity 24/7.   What are we waiting for?  If we are serious about reducing fossil fuel consumption there is only one source of electricity that will replace it.   Destroying the landscape with wind turbines is nothing short of insane. 

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Comment by Penny Gray on September 22, 2015 at 12:03pm

I have faith that these young brilliant minds will move us into a carbon-free future.  I've been following this company for a few years now. Watch the video, it's only 11 minutes long and very informative: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/transatomic-power-pulls...

Comment by Jim Palmer on September 22, 2015 at 11:27am

Just a further note about the as yet unresolved dilemma of permanent radioactive waste disposal:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Waste_Policy_Act#Prerequisite...

There is a fee imposed on nuclear power generators to support permanent disposal and storage (about $750 million each year from about 100 plants). However, the Federal Government is ultimately responsible by law to provide the permanent storage and care, whatever the cost. So far they have not done so and most storage is at the original power plant. However, whatever happens, it will involve a huge cost to the American public that probably will not (or cannot) be reimbursed.

It is somewhat like when a family buys a burial plot in a cemetery. Most states require cemeteries to create a perpetual care endowment. But do you really believe that once the cemetery is full a business will (can) maintain the grounds forever? Abandoned cemeteries windup as a public responsibility, or are left uncared-for. What do you think will happen after the burial of nuclear waste that must at  least  be monitored, and perhaps will require maintenance intervention over 10,000 and even a million years. The federal government's commitment to accept responsibility for nuclear waste is a subsidy of unknown size and will most certainly dwarf any sort of corporate welfare about which we complain. If the government fails to accept this responsibility, then we will have other types of problems.

Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on September 21, 2015 at 1:10pm

Frank, I do believe that once the project of a Wind (or soon to be Grid Solar) ties to the grid the funding from their credits ends. That is where the Reliability Maine steps in to authorize the funding via rate payer and taxpayer funding since transmission is now separated from generation in Maine. Again I may be in error as to this but it is my perception at this point, and find myself in need of clarification. Any Takers?

Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on September 21, 2015 at 1:02pm

I utilize Wiki often, but also find that the text is sometimes unreliable, though links that lead to research based on facts is useful. In that this is still a plausible and relatively new technology in development today, the use of this material from it's early discovery had it been developed instead of our current fuel, may have brought us to a nuclear weapons free global society. Though a prolonged WWII, had we not gone the route of today, it was warned by the developers during the Manhattan Project of other ramifications by those of research authority.

Having done some limited calculations on the cost to output (without other hazards considered) the current fuel is profitable, through it's cheapness of raw materials though requires lots of energy to produce it remains less than 1/4th the cost of what it produces.

There is no silver bullet, for any current need or future needs of energy. As Einstein stated "Energy can not be created, nor destroyed, only converted" The basic structures of atoms dictates this. Only with reduction and better efficiencies of use and conversions will we prolong our lives while replacing energy sources with our own work and needs to destroy the planet in a quicker way. Until we realize the facts of natures abilities or inabilities to provide our desires vs our needs, will we find resolution.

If I turn the light off, I do not need the energy, if I increase the efficiency, I need less, If I waste it, I will require more.  

Comment by Frank J. Heller, MPA on September 21, 2015 at 12:59pm

Went biking near Wyman power plant; and was struck by the immensity of the power lines branching out from the power plant. Given the rising cost of new transmission lines; this asset should be factored in, in any new power generating capacity.  Vermont Yankee provide 95% of Vermont's power for decades. 

Comment by Jim Palmer on September 21, 2015 at 12:37pm

Eric,

The Wikipedia entry on Thorium has more useful information. I cannot pretend to really understand it, except that it seems to be saying that (1) it does produce some "nasty wastes" (my technical term;-) and (2) they are not as bad as the uranium/plutonium fuel cycle. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle#Fission_product_wa...]

There is a review of the thorium research program at: http://thebulletin.org/thorium-wonder-fuel-wasnt7156. I did not go into it deeply, but it sounds like it was "a financial disaster"--but that could be for lots of reasons, such as poor procedures, failure to account for all costs in the uranium/plutonium fuel cycle, etc. Anyway, thorium is not the silver bullet for our energy problems either.

As for the US Navy's nuclear program, they have not had a nuclear related accident, though two nuclear subs sank and are on the ocean bottom [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_navy#Accidents_involving_nava...]. The issue I have identified is not accidents, but how are the radioactive wastes stored? They are still with us for a very long time.

I am not taking a position on this. But I am saying that a decision to pursue nuclear power has very long term responsibilities associated with it that we have not yet demonstrated we are willing to accept.

Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on September 21, 2015 at 12:16pm

I believe this was the technology, Thorium, though through corporate determination via other regulations it was soon prohibited other than for exclusive industry to develop, as they deemed needed for their own profit. (I could be wrong, so given time more research should be done) 

Comment by Frank J. Heller, MPA on September 21, 2015 at 11:03am

When Bill Gates and Toshiba teamed up to develop small nuclear power plants for homes and small business, I thought there must be some new version of the technology which is 'safe' and secure.

So what happened to this and other similar efforts based on Navy power plants? 

Comment by Eric A. Tuttle on September 21, 2015 at 10:27am

A good point Jim, that I did not find in my research, explosive weapons grade.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Tho...

It is something that is commonly around us, though it does not decay as rapidly as our current fuels of radiation concentrates. It is 3 times more available,

Pluses and Minuses http://www.whatisnuclear.com/articles/thorium.html

  • The Th-U fuel cycle does not irradiate Uranium-238 and therefore does not produce transuranic (bigger than uranium) atoms like Plutonium, Americium, Curium, etc. These transuranics are the major health concern of long-term nuclear waste. Thus, Th-U waste will be less toxic on the 10,000+ year time scale. 

Comment by Jim Palmer on September 21, 2015 at 9:42am

I think there are now only three nukes in NE-ISO territory--Vermont Yankee is now closed though the wast will be with us for a very long time. It appears at present that the NRC believes a "300-year time frame is appropriate for characterizing and predicting aging effects and aging management issues for EST" (extended storage and transportation, the period before permanent long term storage) [http://www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/faqs.html#21]. Vermont Yankee had various types of leaks even before it closed--maybe someone on this blog can refresh us about Maine's experience with Maine Yankee?

The USA does not have a long term storage solution in place. However, EPA has issued a rule for the Yucca Mountain long term high level radioactive waste storage facility: "limits radiation doses from Yucca Mountain for up to 1,000,000 years after it closes" [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain_nuclear_waste_reposito...]. Yucca Mountain may never open, but if it does the existing spent fuel in the USA already exceeds its statutory capacity [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yucca_Mountain_nuclear_waste_reposito...]. While nuclear energy may be the right direction for Maine, the time frame and potential severity of damage from nuclear compared to wind generation should at the very least cause one to pause a moment and think about the implications.

I absolutely agree with Eric Tuttle that we should abandon the uranium/plutonium fuel cycle for the thorium fuel cycle for power generation. Thorium has been demonstrated successfully in existing USA reactors. While the thorium fuel cycle also produces nasty waste that will be around a long time, it is a significant improvement. It also has the benefit of not easily being used in a weapons program. It would seem to me that a shift to the thorium fuel cycle would give nuclear non-proliferation negotiations a big boost.

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Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power

 

Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?"  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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