Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s valuable “DC Days.” Representing the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and the Southern Energy Network (SEN), I was joined by Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions to talk with our Southeastern U.S. Representatives and determine where they stand on the issues.
We met with the offices of Rep. John Barrow, Senator Johnny Isakson, and Rep. Sanford Bishop to specifically address Southern Company’s two new proposed reactors at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia. Although both Reps. Barrow’s and Isakson’s staff at least agreed that monitoring of radiological contaminants should be restored in Georgia, there was little else to be excited about. It seems they all support nuclear power all the way, despite their supposed fiscally conservative philosophies. Plant Vogtle is in Congressman Barrow’s district so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that he has fully adopted the talking points of the nuclear industry.
The point I reiterated at each of the meetings is this: offering up $54 billion in taxpayer-financed conditional loan guarantees as proposed by President Obama for risky, expensive new nuclear reactors is not a fiscally conservative maneuver and is not going to create jobs for Georgians. I have sent each of them the 2003 Congressional Budget Office Report that estimates the nuclear industry will have a 50% default rate. That’s a 50% chance that the industry will borrow our tax money, not pay it back, and be forgiven their debt: another taxpayer funded bailout for another wealthy and well-connected industry! It will be interesting to see how their supposed “fiscally conservative” approach can be defended if they back the loan guarantees despite this compelling information.
We also met with Charles Lee, Director of the Office of Environmental Justice of the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss the burden that the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle will place on the local Shell Bluff community. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to visit the community and hear their concerns. So last week it was very inspiring to hear them express their concerns directly to their decision makers and administrators. They spoke of the heavy economic burden their community faces, even after they were promised a new life when the first two reactors were built. They talked about high cancer rates, contaminated water, and rampant poverty. The stories were all too common: their community was left behind, even as others were relocated out of the immediate impact area of the nuclear reactors that are literally across the river from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) massive Savannah River Site nuclear complex. Mr. Lee promised to follow up in the DOE’s promise to reinstate radiological testing of the water and soil on the Georgia side of the river.
These issues are complex and multi-faceted. The bottom line is this: nuclear power is a problem. It’s not a solution to global warming or achieving energy independence. It only creates more problems in the form of dangerous, highly radioactive waste. It squanders our precious water resources and diverts limited financial resources from truly clean, renewable energies that can create good, safe jobs for local Southeastern communities. It is time for sustainable solutions, not more false solutions.
Now do your part – please sign this petition today to urge your decision makers in Congress to oppose gambling away your tax dollars on risky new nuclear reactors!
The fight to prevent new nuclear reactors from being built in the Southeast was in Georgia this week with lots of excitement around President Obama’s tour of Savannah Technical College where he discussed jobs, economic recovery, and the $8.3 billion in conditional loan guarantees he has allocated to Southern Company for the expansion at Plant Vogtle. I joined Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND), Friends of the Earth (FoE), Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) colleagues and local activists to advocate for a carbon free and nuclear free future and against a taxpayer-financed future riddled with more radioactive nuclear waste.
I was energized for the rally, having just spent time with members of the Shell Bluff Community in Waynesboro (where Plant Vogtle is located) to hear their concerns, answer their questions, and discuss real solutions for their impoverished rural community. Their main concerns centered around jobs, health, and their lack of faith in the industry to provide the former or protect the latter. It was so inspirational to meet a few of the folks who remain strong in their faith and sense of community, despite hard economic times and experiencing a high incidence of recent cancer deaths in their families.
I joined members of groups like Savannah River Keepers, WAND, FoE, SACE and others who are involved in the legal interventions to the proposals for two new reactors at the existing Plant Vogtle site. President Obama justifies the $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for this plant with promises of jobs, but the community has heard this before. They cite stories of a boon and bust that surrounded the construction of the first two reactors in 1980′s, pointing to closed businesses and rotting trailer homes scattered about the county. These folks need real, lasting, sustainable solutions and their skepticism of the nuclear industry’s role is well founded by their experience.
All of us here at Southern Energy Network are very disappointed by President Obama’s recent announcement to award the Southern Company over $8 billion in a taxpayer-funded federal loan guarantee for the proposed two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia along the Savannah River. But we’re told that more loan guarantees are going to be announced, likely at several reactor sites proposed right here in the Southeast, and the Administration and proponents of building new nuclear reactors are working to get even more money pumped into this controversial program. We are working hard to stop this reckless spending of taxpayer money.
Join Southern Energy Network (SEN), Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and others as we join together in solidarity to tell Congress that we do not want our tax dollars paying for nuclear!
*The American people are tired of corporate bailouts. In this case, taxpayers would provide the loans and take all the risk. The large utilities would take any profits, and taxpayers would pay for all losses. That is fundamentally unfair to the American people.
Here are some talking points from NIRS:
*Congress should wait and see how the current loans to Georgia Power fare before risking even more taxpayer money on nuclear loans.
*Nuclear power remains dirty and dangerous, as demonstrated by the recent toxic tritium leaks at the Vermont Yankee reactor and elsewhere.
*It would be folly to repeat the mistakes of the past and encourage new reactor construction when we still don’t know how to handle the radioactive waste from existing reactors.
*We need to address the climate crisis with the fastest, cheapest, cleanest and safest means possible of reducing carbon emissions. Nuclear power is the slowest, most expensive, dirtiest and most dangerous technology available. And nuclear power is not carbon-free: its carbon footprint is about six times that of wind, 2-3 times greater than solar, and many times greater than energy efficiency.
For more information, click here.
Earlier this month, Florida Power and Light (FPL) was denied the $1.3 Billion rate increase they requested last fall, only getting $75 million. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously ruled against the huge increase, citing a struggling economy and questioning FPL’s exorbitant corporate spending habits and high profit margins.
This week, the Public Service Commission ruled once again to serve the public, rejecting Progress Energy’s $500 million rate increase. Both utilities were also forced to reduce their profit margins a couple percentage points.
With much of the rate increase slated to fund the utilities’ proposals to build a total of four new nuclear reactors at the Turkey Point plant and in Levy County, many citizens are taking action. Engaging the PSC since last October, thousands commented on Early Cost Recovery and nuclear. Their message is simple, “Don’t nuke Florida, we need solar in the Sunshine State!”
Public opposition is mounting against increasing rates and forced consumer investment into projects that are financially risky and literally create tons of radioactive waste. The AARP and numerous environmental groups have building grassroots pressure on the Public Service Commission, urging them to protect the customers pocket and the environment.
FPL and Progress Energy now say that they will be “suspending” their risky nuclear plans . Because their main funding mechanism was Early Cost Recovery, the utilities claim they need the rate increases to attain capital investment from their consumers. Check here for an interesting analysis of how the utilities are crying wolf about job losses when their true interest is protecting their sharholders.
Although the PSC decisions are good news, the utilities are still pursuing permitting for the new reactors, which is an extremely expensive process. Utility executives are also claiming huge lay-offs will follow the decision to deny the rate increases. This is questionable, to say the least. Even Governor Crist, a supporter of nuclear who opposed the rate increases, thinks the utilities misleading the public about jobs. You can read his statement here.
Stay tuned for more exciting updates as the nuclear fiasco continues to unfold in Florida. Folks in communities and on campuses all over Florida are taking on the nuclear industry in 2010!
Teaming up with the Guacamole Fund, Southern Energy Network had the awesome opportunity to promote its our anti-nuclear work in Florida, raise some money, and hang out with Bonnie Raitt. And what a great night it was!
SEN’s Field Director, Stephanie Powell and I worked with 3 amazing volunteers from University of West Florida to inform fans about the nuclear issues currently facing Florida. We encountered tons of folks who were already engaged on the issues and a few more that were in process of going off the grid with solar power installations at their homes. During the show, we took turns going in to enjoy the music. Personally, watching Bonnie perform was quite an experience! Her music has been in my life since I was pretty young, and seeing it live was phenomenal.
Bonnie Raitt, along with a number of other artists, founded a group called Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) that opposes nuclear power in favor of safer, renewable options like solar. To help the cause, they build fundraising into their ticket sales, giving fans the choice to purchase special V.I.P. tickets. At this Pensacola show, there was a small dessert reception afterward. Bonnie was so careful to spend a few moments with each of the folks there, chatting with them and taking a photo. At the end of it all, we had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with her as well. She is such a genuine person and was very knowledgeable about the complex intricacies of nuclear power, as well as the details of Florida’s specific challenges in the face of this risky industry. It’s great to have folks with such public access on our side, spreading real information to folks about issues that affect us all!
Now, more than ever, Floridians need to stand up and show we are ready to usher in a brighter energy future. An energy future that is just and safe for all and uses truly renewable sources. An energy future that neither relies on fossil fuels nor creates a legacy of radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years. Want solar in the Sunshine State? Florida needs a POWER SHIFT!
Right now, Washington is leading us in the wrong direction. Check out what Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham have to say in their NY Times Op Ed yesterday.
The emphasis Kerry and Graham place on expensive risky nuclear, the mythical “clean coal,” and coastal drilling leaves Florida wondering when the sun will shine on our economy? The United States as a whole needs bold action to protect our climate and secure our energy. Drilling does neither–instead it maintains our dependence on dirty oil, and it does little to reduce our need for foreign oil. Nuclear is the ‘thirstiest‘ energy out there, requiring millions of gallons of water per day. These technologies do not bring the jobs we need, but renewables will!
Florida has a lot to lose in the face climate change, but so much to gain from real solutions. We need solutions that are safe, clean, renewable, and create jobs! Join hundreds of other engaged and passionate young people as we demand a Power Shift in Orlando, FL Oct 23-25 at University of Central Florida campus Arena.
Have 15 minutes? Here are 2 things you can do Right Now:
Attend Florida Power Shift! We were 6,000 strong in DC back in 2007. In March of this year, we doubled that number and really showed our legislators that young people in our country are serious about climate change and are here to support strong action toward real solutions. Now, we are bringing it home to Florida to demand safe and renewable energy. Don’t miss the early Registration Friday 10/16!
Contact the Florida Public Service Commission and tell them you won’t pay for their nuclear reactors! Email email@example.com and Reference Docket # 090009. Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light want to charge you now for reactors that may never be built. Please contact them today! Need talking points? Check this out.
Please contact me with any questions!
Hope to see you next weekend in Orlando!
Florida Organizer, Southern Energy Network
This past weekend at University of Florida, over 70 young people from 9 universities across the state joined forces with Southern Energy Network at the Florida Youth Energy Sustainability (YES) Summit. It was an action packed day and a half of workshops and strategizing sessions interspersed with great energy and fun!
The goals of the summit centered around building relationships, increasing communication, and strategizing upcoming campaigns. The Green Fee campaign got a make over. Students from several schools are creating a committee to escalate the campaign and develop a plan to take on the Florida legislature, this time for a win! The anti-nuclear campaign gained more steam and will be one of the networks primary campaigns this year with plans under way to increase pressure at the state and national levels.
Last, but certainly not least, we talked about the Power Shift campaign and how Florida is going to raise their voices to join the chorus of young people demanding bold climate legislation before United Nations Climate Negotiations in December. Florida is ready to have an awesome event in Orlando on October 24th, just in time for the 350.org International Day of Action. Our state has a lot to lose in the face of climate change and we are stepping up to the challenge!
UCF Students think families and local businesses shouldn’t have to pay for nuclear reactors, especially when there are safer renewables available that do not produce radioactive waste. So, at 4:30 a.m. this past Tuesday, they left Orlando to go to the Public Service Commission Early Cost Recovery hearing. The PSC heard expert testimonies all week to determine the prudence of Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light charging consumers to recoup capital costs for their proposed nuclear reactors.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the Office of Public Council, and PCS Phosphate are all intervening in the case. Their witnesses testify that early cost recovery is not sensible and that the reactors aren’t even necessary. Peter Bradford, former Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, one of SACE’s expert witnesses, testified that our slumping economy is reducing the demand for electricity for the first time in decades. Citing rising costs for materials and an increasing shortage of laborers with the skills to complete these projects, he concludes that the risk the utilities are asking their consumers to bear is just too great. The PSC is scheduled to make its ruling October 26, 2009.
If you think the utilities should keep their hands out of your pockets with their risky investments, make your voice heard! Tell the PSC you do not what to fund Progress and Florida Power and Light’s risky business. Urge them to read the expert testimonies offered by Peter Bradford and Arnie Gundersen that cite hard evidence that the utilities cannot justify the request to raise rates for these projects nor can they ensure that ratepayers will get anything in return for their investment.
Here’s how: Use the info below to contact PSC and reference Docket #090009,:
• PSC Contact page: http://www.psc.state.fl.us/about/contact/
• Local Consumer Assistance Line: 1-850-413-6100
• Toll Free Consumer Assistance Line: 1-800-342-3552
• Toll Free Fax: 1-800-511-0809
Public Hearings Coming Soon!
As you probably know, Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light (FP&L) are each proposing two nuclear reactors here in the Sunshine. What Progress and FP&L don’t want you to know is the estimated $41 billion price tag for these four reactors. Even worse, they want you and I to pick up the bill! Progress already increased monthly rates an average of $25 per month this past January, with another proposed increase for the upcoming year. FP&L is currently proposing a 30% rate increase. All of this is allowed through Early Cost Recovery, which can be roughly translated into ‘this is too risky to pay for, so let’s take the customer’s money without returning any of those pesky shareholder benefits, guarantees of productivity, or refunds.’
Florida youth have had enough and are calling for Action by organizing attendance at important hearings in the next 2 weeks. If you are still unsure about nuclear, please consider the following:
Nuclear power is expensive and diverts attention and energy from truly renewable and clean energy sources. If the reactors are approved, they won’t produce energy until 2018. Nuclear Information and Resource Service and the Florida Ecology and Green Parties have intervened in the licensing process. If successful, the intervention would prevent the plant from being built. All the while, we still need energy security and climate safety. We cannot afford to wait on this false solution. We need to invest in efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy NOW!
To add insult to injury, nuclear power is also extremely water intensive, using an estimated 50 Million gallons of water per day per reactor. Nearly 75 percent of that is not recycled and lost through evaporation. With severe droughts persisting throughout parts of Florida and the region, we cannot afford to continue ignoring the impact energy choices have on our precious water supply.
The current plan is to keep part of the waste in-state. With Florida’s 1800 miles of coastline and vulnerability to hurricanes and flooding, I have serious questions about how wise that decision truly is.
If this information is alarming to you, SPEAK out at the meetings and hearings that are coming up in these next two weeks. DEMAND answers to questions about waste and water and safety. STAND UP against utilities dipping into your pockets to fund this risky nuclear business. Join with others around the state who refuse to sit idly as this unfolds. Don’t forget to bring your friends!
On the Siting of the Turkey Point Florida Power and Light Reactors
Host: Miami-Dade & South Florida Regional Planning Council
8/31/09 6:30 pm Homestead, FL
City of Homestead City Council Chambers
790 North Homestead Blvd
9/2/09 6:30 pm Coral Gables, FL
Bank United Center, U of Miami
Hurricane 100 Room
1245 Dauer Drive
On Early Cost Recovery:
Tallahassee, FL 9/8/09 9:30-1:00
Public Service Commission
2540 Shumard Oak Blvd
Hearing Room 148
Public comment allowed at this session, hearing will continue for the rest of the week.
For more information and talking points, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
**Attend Important Siting Board Meeting, August 11, 2009 in Tallahassee**
It’s been over 30 years since a nuclear power plant was approved in Florida and with your support, SACE and our partners have been fighting Progress Energy of Florida’s risky proposal to build two costly new nuclear reactors in Levy County. Last year, Progress submitted an application to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to certify the Levy County site. Now the final decision is about to be made!
Attend an important Cabinet meeting August 11, 2009 and tell Governor Crist and the Cabinet to protect Florida’s environment by denying approval for Progress’ Site Certification Application to build two new nuclear reactors in Levy County.
Now is the time for Florida to move away from these expensive, risky energy proposals and move toward energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy that protect our communities and Florida’s vital natural resources on which our economy relies and protect electricity customers from financial risk.
The Cabinet will meet at 9 am on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 in the Capitol in Tallahassee and will vote on whether to approve Progress’ application to construct two costly nuclear reactors at a Greenfield site in Levy County. The meeting will focus on the environmental impacts that could occur if Progress is allowed to build the first nuclear power plant in Florida in over 30 years. The Cabinet consists of Governor Crist, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agricultural Commissioner Charles Bronson. This is your chance to address the Cabinet directly.
To access the agenda and information on the siting case, visit click here.
Attend the 8/11/09 Siting Board meeting:
The meeting will be held in the Cabinet Room located on the lower level of the Capitol Building, room LL 03, down one floor from the lobby, located at 400 S. Monroe St. Tallahassee, FL 32399. Visitor parking for the Capitol Building can be found in Lot E, Level 3 which can be reached from the front of the Capitol, head north on N. Monroe St. to Jefferson St. (one block), turn left, go 3 blocks to Bronough St. (one way street going south), turn left, go one block, then turn right into Level 3 entrance of parking garage.
To give public comment at the meeting you must register with Katie Flanagan, the Cabinet Affairs Rep. for DEP, by telephone at (850) 245-2024, by cellphone at (850) 778-6965, or by emailing email@example.com. Please limit your comments to 2-3 minutes.
If you cannot attend:
Contact the Office of Cabinet Affairs or the Offices of the Governor and other cabinet members to voice your concerns about the Progress Energy’s risky plans for a nuclear plant in Levy County.
Cabinet Contact Information:
Click here for the Cabinet website.
Governor’s Office of Cabinet Affairs: (850) 488-5152
Citizen Services Hotline: (850) 488-4441
Executive Office of the Governor Switchboard: (850) 488-7146 [8 a.m.-5 p.m.]
Fax: (850) 487-0801
Attorney General Bill McCollum:
Citizen Services Hotline: (850) 414-3990
Florida Toll-Free: 800-966-7226
Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink:
Office of Cabinet Affairs, Gail Robinson.
Telephone: (850) 413-2825
Telecopier: (850) 488-6581 [Yvonne Gsteiger, Senior Cabinet Aide. Handles issues related to land use and the environment, and the Administration Commission.]
Commissioner Charles Bronson :
Telephone: (850) 488-3022
• The Levy County site has never been developed. Building two reactors and the massive transmission line project that’s required would have significant negative impacts.
• The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency responsible for licensing, has agreed with concerned organizations that there are several environmental issues of concern that need to be further studied. The Siting Board should not approve the site until these issues are resolved. These issues include:
o Numerous flaws in Progress’ application to the NRC on the impacts of the proposed reactors on wetlands, the underground Floridian aquifer system and the Withlacoochee and Waccasassa Rivers;
o The impact of salt contamination on wetlands;
o Millions of gallons of saltwater would be pumped from the Cross Florida Barge Canal every day to cool the plant, where a third of it would evaporate
before the salty remainder is pumped into an area adjacent to the Big Bend Aquatic Seagrasses Preserve; and
o Deficiencies in the Progress’ plans for radioactive waste disposal, particularly highly-radioactive Class B and C waste. Progress Energy has no viable means of disposing of this waste, nor of storing it onsite.
Click here for more information on the high costs of building new reactors in Florida.