Maine, Always Behind the 8 Ball: Maine Yankee Anyone?

A Nuclear Milestone for Climate

Federal go-ahead for Florida reactors could start a chain reaction.

You probably haven’t heard about a recent regulatory decision that will reduce carbon emissions because it doesn’t follow the green template of controlling private industry and suppressing economic growth.

Last week the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the first time extended a nuclear plant’s license so it can operate for 80 years. The decision for the Turkey Point reactors in south Florida could encourage other plant owners to apply for renewals and extend the viability of the leading carbon-free energy source.

A majority of the 58 nuclear plants now supplying power to U.S. homes and businesses were built in the 1970s and 1980s, when they were licensed for 40 years. Most plants have applied for and received 20-year extensions to bring their life spans to 60 years. Yet antinuclear activists use the license renewal periods to pressure plants to close, and until the Turkey Point decision it was an open question whether the NRC would approve second 20-year extensions.

The federal go-ahead for Turkey Point comes at an important time for America’s maturing nuclear fleet. The 2010s saw a wave of plant closures, and according to the Nuclear Energy Institute half of U.S. plants would shut down by 2040 without a second extension. Nine are seeking one so far.

If the odds for approval looked long, fewer U.S. power companies would take their chances with the costly renewal process, especially given pressure on the industry from cheap natural gas and subsidized wind and solar in many states. More plants would close and much of that energy would instead be generated by fossil fuels.

The Turkey Point decision doesn’t mean all future applications will pass the NRC’s safety and environmental reviews, but it shows they will be considered. Reactors can now operate safely much longer than originally thought with appropriate upgrades.

Because of the steep regulatory obstacles to building new nuclear plants, continued operation of existing plants is the best bet for keeping nuclear from declining below its current 19% share of U.S. electric power. Environmentalists who say the climate is an existential crisis should be the most pleased at this indication that nuclear energy will stay on the grid.

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Comment by Bob Stone on December 13, 2019 at 1:55pm

I am no nuclear engineer, but what I have read on Gen IV nuclear sounds very promising.  So promising that I would urge President Trump to set a national goal, similar to President Kennedy's Lunar goal, to get Gen IV designed, built and up and running, providing very safe power for the next 50 years, at least.  

Comment by Willem Post on December 13, 2019 at 11:39am

Nuclear plants with 80-y lives would produce electricity at 3 to 4 c/kWh

Wind, 20 to 25 y live, and solar, 30 y live, could not come close, even with subsidies.

With regard to nuclear power, it is not appropriate to mention Chernobyl (in 1986) over and over again.

That reactor had NO CONTAINMENT vessel and other deficiencies.


However, ALL operating utility reactors in the US do have containment vessels.

In case of Three Mile Island, the radiation was effectively contained after an accident in 1979, 40 years ago.


The Fukushima reactors likely would still be in operation for many years, if there had not been an OFF THE CHARTS, GIGANTIC, TSUNAMI, which IMMEDIATELY killed 10,000 people and displaced many more.

The deaths from radiation, at the plant site and nearby, were minimal.

Having the plant AT THAT LOCATION was the problem, not the plant itself. I studied nuclear engineering at RPI, MSME, some decades ago.


Today about 450 nuclear reactors are operating in 30 countries, plus Taiwan, with total capacity of about 400,000 MW.

In 2018, nuclear provided 2563 TWh of electricity, over 10% of the world’s electricity.


About 50 reactors are being constructed in 15 countries, such as China, India, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.


Each year, the OECD’s International Energy Agency (IEA) presents its World Energy Outlook (WEO) report.


In the 2019 edition (WEO 2019), the IEA’s ‘Stated Policies Scenario’ sees nuclear capacity at about 482,000 MW by 2040.

The increase is concentrated in Asia, and in particular China (34% of the total increase).


In 2040, nuclear would provide about 8.5% of the world's electricity.

The world's electricity is expected to increase at 2 to 3 percent per year from 2018 to 2040.

If nuclear were so "dangerous", the continued expansion of nuclear would not happen.


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 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?" 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.”

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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"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."

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