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Showing posts from February, 2008

Orlando Sentinel Says Nuclear Should Not Be 'Scapegoat'

Here's what an Orlando Sentinel editorial has to say about the role of the Turkey Point nuclear plant in the Tuesday blackout...

Our position: Nuclear energy shouldn't be used as scapegoat in this week's massive blackout

Critics of nuclear energy were barking up the wrong power pole when they blamed reactors at Turkey Point for the blackout Tuesday afternoon that cut off electricity for millions of Floridians.

The reactors shut down, as designed, when a West Dade substation caught fire and a circuit breaker there failed to contain the problem. The loss of power from the reactors caused outages to spread across the grid that draws and distributes electricity from all of Florida's utilities.

Like the massive power outage that struck multiple states in 2003, Florida's blackout is another reminder of the vulnerability of America's aging electrical infrastructure. U.S. customers endure many more blackouts than their counterparts in countries that have modernized their g…

Policymakers Push for New U.S. Nuclear Plants

Several leading policymakers have made statements encouraging construction of new nuclear power plants over the past week. Here are some of these statements.

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, had this to say about nuclear energy in a speech focusing on America's energy challenges yesterday:
“In the decade since my address at Harvard, we have changed the face of the debate on nuclear energy. We did this by ensuring that it was framed in the context of how to advance nuclear energy, not whether we should… The clearest evidence of this shift in thinking came with the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included loan guarantees, tax incentives, risk insurance, and an extension of the Price-Anderson Act… Consider that today, there are 104 nuclear reactors in service around the nation. Together, they displace the same amount of carbon dioxide as is emitted by nearly every passenger car on the road in America. A…

NEI's Energy Markets Report - February 18-February 22, 2008

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:Electricity peak prices increased $3-9/MWh at all hubs except NEPOOL. The NEPOOL hub decreased $1/MWh (Platts, see pages 1 and 3).

Estimated nuclear plant availability rose to 93 percent last week. Grand Gulf 1 was the only unit to shut down last week (see pages 2 and 4).

Uranium prices were $75 and $73/lb U3O8 according to TradeTech and UxConsulting (see pages 1 and 3).

Gas prices at the Henry Hub increased $0.49 to $8.83/MMBtu due to frigid temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast. Henry Hub gas futures for one-month, six-month, and twelve-months ahead traded at or above $9/MMBtu. Low imports of liquefied natural gas to the lower 48 states are a factor in the recent increase in gas prices. LNG imports have averaged less than 1 Bcf per day this winter compared to more than 3 Bcf at times last summer. The EIA reports that the reduction in U.S. LNG imports reflects changes in LNG supply and demand across the world. For …

Makhijani on DallasNews

Two days ago on DallasNews, Arjun Makhijani from the anti-nuclear group Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) gave his usual commentary that nuclear can't cut it but renewables can.Having failed miserably to deliver on the 1950s promise that nuclear electricity would be "too cheap to meter," the industry now says it will save us from climate change.Can't the antis come up with something better than to hold the industry to a claim made 50 years ago? Since the 1980s, it's been clear nuclear plants were not cheap. I'm sure if we dig hard enough we can find old claims made from all industries that never came to fruition. On to Comanche Peak:
And then there is the problem of cooling water. The two proposed reactors would consume about 40 million gallons of water per day. Even assuming that the water is available, Texas is risking a less reliable power system, given that droughts are estimated to become more extreme in a warming world.I guess Mr. Ma…

Entergy Submits Application for a New ESBWR at Grand Gulf

From Entergy:The application seeks regulatory approvals to potentially build a new unit adjacent to Entergy’s existing Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, a reactor that ranks third among the nation’s 104 nuclear plants for total electricity output over its lifetime of commercial operations.

With energy demands rising across the nation, many energy companies are pursuing clean, safe nuclear options through the NuStart consortium and other avenues. The U.S. Department of Energy states 250 to 500 new baseload power plants – those designed to help meet basic electrical needs – will be needed across the country by 2030.

Bush Administration Has Increased Energy R&D Spending

Federal spending on research and development on key energy technologies has increased substantially since the end of 2000, according to a recent study. Investment in new energy technologies will no doubt pay dividends.

100 GW of New Nuclear from AREVA by 2030?

That's what they're aiming for:Areva aims to build more than 100 gigawatts of new nuclear power capacity by 2030, one third of the 344 GW that the company expects to be developed around the world by that date, a spokeswoman said.AREVA's Evolutionary Power Reactor is 1.6 GW therefore 100 GW would equate to 63 new EPRs. Is that doable? Well, if we look back over the past 50 years, the world built more than 120 GW of nuclear capacity in the '70s and more than 200 GW in the '80s. So yes, their goal is definitely doable. Hopefully they will build more than that.

Florida's Power Outage

A widespread power outage in Florida occurred just after 1 PM Eastern today affecting several millions of Florida customers. Two of Florida's five nuclear reactors were shutdown as a result of the outage. Here is a statement from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission:At approximately 1:09 p.m. today, Turkey Point's two nuclear reactors (units 3 and 4) automatically shut down from 100% power in response to an "undervoltage" caused when two power distribution lines between Miami and Daytona went down following an equipment malfunction in a substation near Miami. The automatic trip of the reactors is a safety measure to protect plant equipment from abnormal power line voltages. The reactors are likely to be shut down for 12 to 24 hours, as part of a regular re-start protocol, with offsite power sources remaining available. Emergency diesel generators were not necessary.Here is the Nuclear Energy Institute's statement on the outage:As the result of a disturbance in off-s…

GQ's Nuclear "Meltdown"

In the March 2008 issue of Gentlemen's Quarterly, Wyl S. Hylton wrote a great, balanced piece on the current state of the nuclear industry. His main topics centered around the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania and Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Below are some highlights (bold edits are mine).

On Three Mile Island:
Over the past ten years, the plant [Three Mile Island] has become famous for its constancy, setting records for continuous operation. The latest, among more than 250 similar reactors worldwide, was 689 days without pause or fail.

What all this amounts to, in a typical year, is about 7.2 million megawatt hours of electricity, or enough to satisfy the needs of 800,000 homes. By way of comparison, to produce the same amount of electricity, a coal-fired power plant would have to incinerate more than 3 million metric tons of fuel, producing 500 pounds of carbon dioxide per second, as well as 1,200 pounds of ash per minute and 750 pounds of sulfur dioxide every five minu…

Latest Issue of Nuclear Energy Insight Available

The latest issue of Nuclear Energy Insight is now available online. In it, you'll find an article on congressional approval of an energy bill that opens overseas markets for America's nuclear power suppliers. There also are reports on new-plant plans across the globe and the important role nuclear energy will play to cut greenhouse gases in New England. Other articles discuss the new-plant licensing process and fuel sources for next-generation reactors. The issue also profiles Jamina Vujic, chair of the nuclear engineering department at the University of California-Berkeley.

10 Things the Country Must Do to Avoid an Energy Crunch

Check out number five from the Houston Chronicle:5. The U.S. nuclear energy industry has proved itself to be safe, reliable and free of toxic emissions. New technologies make plants more efficient and easier to build and operate. Environmental concerns dictate that nuclear power play a larger role. However, full exploitation of nuclear power plants demands that the government quickly provide a safe site for the disposal of radioactive waste.

What's the Best Energy Advice to the Next President?

It's to go nuclear according to Charles Groat at the Houston Chronicle:The next president of the United States can strike an early blow for sound energy policy by actively promoting our increased use of nuclear power.

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Ghosts from the past and emotional arguments not backed by scientific fact continue to be used to disparage nuclear power. The fear of a Chernobyl-like catastrophe and memories of the Three Mile Island incident (which resulted in no injuries or deaths) continue to concern many despite the fact that outmoded Russian technology has long been abandoned and the safety record of U.S. nuclear power plants is admirable.

The concern getting the most political mileage is the waste issue. Deep geologic disposal has been accepted by virtually all nations as the ultimate resting place for their spent nuclear fuel or reprocessing residues. The United States has led the world in committing to a site for its waste and preparing it for licensing. We have also set records for throwi…

Investment Banks Begin Counting Carbon in New Power Plant Costs

Leading investment banks have begun to incorporate estimates for the cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the cost of building new power plant projects, a move that would increase the competitiveness of new nuclear plants.

According to this approach, banks would impose additional costs on plants that produce carbon dioxide, such as those powered by fossil fuels. The federal government does not impose a tax or other measure to account for the cost of emitting carbon dioxide, but the banks clearly believe measures to regulate greenhouse gases are imminent.

"We have decided, as have other banks, to start assessing the cost of carbon in our risk and underwriting processes as we evaluate the business models of utility sector companies. In the absence of federal legislation, we estimate the cost will fall between $20 to $40 per ton of carbon dioxide," Ken Lewis, Bank of America's chairman and CEO, told attendees at a Feb. 12 energy conference in North Carolina.

The impo…

Industry Leaders Brief Wall Street on Expansion of Nuclear Sector

Industry executives described the prudent steps energy companies are taking as they consider builidng new nuclear plants in the United States in a briefing for Wall Street analysts today. NEI's press release follows:
Nuclear Energy Expansion Will Proceed Cautiously Over Next Decade, Wall Street Analysts Told

NEW YORK, Feb. 21, 2008—Construction of new nuclear power plants in the United States will ramp up slowly over the next decade as project sponsors exercise caution to effectively manage business risks, nuclear energy industry leaders told Wall Street financial analysts here today.The industry’s expectations are that four to eight new nuclear plants will be generating electricity by 2016 or so, with a second wave of new power plants under construction as the first group commences commercial operation, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer, Frank L. (Skip) Bowman said during a briefing attended by more than 75 analysts.“The exact number will, of cour…

Baldwin on Oyster Creek ... Again

Last night Alec Baldwin moderated a forum on the health effects of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in New Jersey. From APP.com:Actor Alec Baldwin said he would like to see the state force the owners of the Oyster Creek Generating Station to build cooling towers to replace an outdated boiling water reactor system.

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"This is one of the truly complicated issues I've ever dealt with,'' Baldwin said. Um, replacing cooling towers is not the same as replacing a BWR system. If he thinks that is the case, then I can see why he thinks this is a complicated issue. I wonder if Mr. Baldwin can locate the cooling towers in this diagram of a BWR system. Hint: the towers are not there.

I could get more into this but I think the comments on the article speak for themselves:Just because he is a celebrity, people put a microphone in front of him, and just because someone put a microphone in front of him he thinks he is an expert on all things.

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Alec Baldwin has no business speaking on t…

Latest Issue of Nuclear Policy Outlook Available

Building Confidence in Licensing New U.S. Nuclear Plants

Now that companies have submitted license applications for new nuclear power plants, the industry, regulator, financial community and others are taking stock of the challenges that lie ahead. Demonstrating confidence and stability in the new NRC licensing process is a critical first step toward building new reactors in the United States. This issue of Nuclear Policy Outlook focuses on how companies are meeting the key challenges of licensing new nuclear plants, their recent successes and plans for the future. For the PDF version click here.

Commentary by AEHI's Don Gillespie

Don Gillispie, President and CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings Inc., wrote an opinion piece at ArbiterOnline which is Boise State's Independent Student Newspaper:Nuclear power, on the other hand, needs little area to produce massive amounts of energy and does it with 90 percent reliability, zero greenhouse gasses, very little waste (all of it low-level and recyclable) and all for about three cents per kilowatt hour. The American nuclear industry's stellar safety record over 50 years is one of the reasons why, according to a recent poll, 70 percent of Americans and an increasing number of mainstream environmentalists are supporting it.

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Oddly, some people claim the recent decision by MidAmerican to end plans for a nuclear plant in Payette County really means the entire industry is doomed. Warren Buffet ultimately made the decision and who are mere mortals to question his business savvy?

While nuclear plants are quite profitable when operating, the overwhelming commitment to buil…

Progress Files for Two New Nuclear Plants

From Progress:Progress Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), announced that it will file a combined operating license (COL) application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) later today [yesterday] for two possible new reactors at the existing Harris Nuclear Plant site near New Hill, N.C. Nuclear power is one of three components of the company's balanced solution strategy, which also includes the use of renewable energy sources and an emphasis on energy efficiency.

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Progress Energy chose the Harris site in 2006, based on availability of transmission lines, proximity to cooling water and to Progress Energy Carolinas' largest area of customer concentration.

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The Harris Plant site was originally planned for four nuclear reactors, but due to changing economic conditions in the 1970s and 1980s, only one reactor was built. The Harris site offers a large amount of available land -- approximately 35 square miles -- and has an adequate water supply.

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Greenspan Endorses Nuclear Energy at CERA Conference

Alan Greenspan last week strongly endorsed nuclear energy as part of a future energy portfolio that provides clean power to the electricity grid and reduces U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Speaking at Cambridge Energy Research Associates’ (CERA) week-long energy conference in Houston, the former Federal Reserve chief said that nuclear energy is part of a strategy that he would recommend to the new president of the United States to reduce our dependence on imported oil.
Greenspan’s solution to break our reliance on oil includes market adoption of electric plug-in vehicles along with the infrastructure to power them. When asked by CERA Chairman Dan Yergin how plug-on vehicles should be fueled, Greenspan said, “No question about it—nuclear power.”
He acknowledged that the United States must continue to work toward a successful program for used fuel management, but Greenspan believes it is a “resolvable problem. The French seem to have taken care of it … and we can, too.”

Notes from Platts' 2008 Nuclear Conference

Two weeks ago I attended Platts' 4th Annual Nuclear Energy Conference. Below are some highlights I would like to share from 8 of the 31 speakers.

Day One -
Michael Wallace
Michael Wallace, Chairman of Unistar and President of Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, began the conference by stating the nuclear industry must “exercise a fine sense of responsibility to get it right.” The industry cannot have rose-colored glasses and must ask negative questions.

Wallace stated that the U.S. needs to build new electrical capacity soon. He highlighted that electricity demand is outstripping capacity, energy prices are escalating, and there is a real concern for the environment and CO2 emissions.

Wallace said the challenges facing the nuclear industry are: a lack of infrastructure, an untested licensing process, diminished knowledge and experience, a global competition for resources, and spent fuel politics. Loan guarantees, production tax credits and standby support in the EPACT 2005 were all cr…

Thoughts from Rod Adams on Peach Bottom's Sleeping Guards

Rod asks:Should we be concerned about guards sleeping in a "ready room"?

Late last year there was a lot of hype about a series of cell phone videos recorded by a new security guard at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station of fellow guards dozing off while in a room identified as a "ready room". Having never actually been on the commercial side of the nuclear business, I am still having some difficulty with understanding why it would be a big deal.

In the military, we have "ready rooms" where people gather for briefings and to await orders to take action. Generally speaking, the people on alert in ready rooms are in full gear and ready to move when called, but there is often a lengthy period of waiting before the call actually occurs. Sometimes days can expire without any call to action. As some wise observer once described the situation "hours of boredom punctuated by seconds of pure adrenaline."

When in this kind of "ready room" waiting …

FAIR's "Hoax of Eco-Friendly Nuclear Energy"

In the January/February 2008 edition of Extra, Karl Grossman at Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting wrote a disingenuous, inaccurate piece against nuclear energy. The whole premise of his article is that the mainstream media doesn't question the nuclear advocates in the industry and government. We know this is false, though, as evidenced by AP's one-sided piece on the nuclear industry's water issues.

Lifecycle Emissions
Grossman's first claim begins with how the biased media doesn't question NEI's clean air ads.What is left unmentioned by the NEI, the Times and other mainstream media making this claim is that the overall “nuclear cycle”—which includes uranium mining and milling, enrichment, fuel fabrication and disposal of radioactive waste—has significant greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.According to his source, there are:independent studies that document in detail the extent to which the entire nuclear cycle generates greenhouse emissio…

NEI's Energy Markets Report - February 4-February 8, 2008

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:Electricity peak prices fell $0.09-$7/MWh at the Entergy, NEPOOL, PJM West and SP 15 hubs. The ERCOT and Palo Verde hubs increased $4-7/MWh. EIA projects summer weather will be milder, resulting in about 10 percent lower cooling-degree-days and less power demand for air conditioning. This is expected to lower the growth in residential electricity sales (EIA STEO, see pages 1, 2, 3 and 5).

Gas prices at the Henry Hub decreased $0.06 to $7.89/MMBtu. The Henry Hub spot price is expected to average $8.18 per mcf during the first quarter of 2008 compared to $7.41 during the corresponding period in 2007. Total natural gas consumption is expected to increase by 0.9 percent in 2008 and by 1.0 percent in 2009 (EIA STEO, see pages 1, 2, 3 and 5).

Estimated nuclear plant availability fell to 89 percent last week. Two units began refueling outages, Hatch 1 and La Salle 1, and Clinton completed its refueling outage. D.C. Cook 1 was…

Saying Goodbye

I'm sure by now most of our regular readers will have noticed that my byline has been a little scarce around here lately. That isn't an accident, as I'll be winding down my stewardship at NEI Nuclear Notes as well as my tenure at the Nuclear Energy Institute by the end of the week.

From here on in, day-to-day responsibility for the blog will shift my colleague, Jarret Adams, who made his blog debut last week. Jarret is a valued member of the editorial team here at NEI, known well for his work on a variety of projects. He's written Congressional testimony, speeches and is the editor of Nuclear Policy Outlook. Best of all, there isn't anyone on the editorial staff who knows more about Yucca Mountain and used nuclear fuel than Jarret.

In turn, David Bradish, who has worked hard to leverage his detailed statistical knowledge to debunk anti-nuclear claims on a regular basis, isn't going anywhere. If anything, I think you'll be seeing David more often on these …

Constellation to Submit an Application for a New Plant in New York

From Constellation:UniStar Nuclear Energy (UNE), a strategic joint venture between Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG) and the EDF Group, today announced it has notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of its plans to submit a Combined License (COL) application in late 2008 for a potential advanced design nuclear reactor at Constellation Energy's Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in upstate New York.For the list of planned new nuclear units in the US, click here.

Virginia to Study Uranium Mining

From the AP:The [State] Senate has passed legislation establishing a 2-year study on the safety of uranium mining.Before voting 36-4 on Tuesday to pass the study, several senators stressed that they didn't support the concept but thought it wouldn't hurt to study the issue.The study eventually could result in lifting the moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia.The proposal stems from a company's desire to tap a huge uranium deposit in Pittsylvania County. It's the largest unmined uranium deposit in the nation, worth an estimated $10 billion.

Closing Indian Point Could Be Costly

From the New York Times:CLOSING the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan could have dire consequences for the county’s economy, according to a new report by the Westchester Business Alliance, a coalition of regional groups.
Electricity bills would soar, and job growth — as well as property values — would suffer, said the report, which was issued on Jan. 31.The study, prepared by Energy Strategies, consultants in Albany, said that closing the two reactors at Indian Point without creating alternative energy sources — which are not on the horizon — would cause electricity prices in Westchester County to rise more than 150 percent by 2017. Under the consultants’ estimates, the average annual residential electric bill in Westchester would jump to $2,500 from $1,000.More here. For those who don't remember, the National Academy of Sciences came to similar conclusions in a study they completed back in 2006. And several years prior to that, NEI conducted an economic benefits study o…

Jack Spencer's Power Play

Jack Spencer from the Heritage Foundation is at it again:Electricity demand is projected to increase 40 percent by 2030, according to government estimates. Meanwhile, overzealous regulators make it difficult to expand energy capacity.

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Proponents make it sound so simple. Just buy a new dishwasher, build a couple of windmills, put some solar cells on the roof and — voila — energy problem solved. Not really. Maryland would have to reduce its electricity consumption by about a fifth of today's use — or the equivalent of a half a million households — to meet Mr. O'Malley's objective. Since Maryland produces only 1.3 percent of its electricity from renewables, increasing that to 20 percent in the next 14 years would be daunting, to say the least.

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The legitimacy of these draconian efforts is rooted in the notion there is an energy shortage. Conservation, after all, makes sense when there is a shortage of something.

But energy is not in short supply. There are fossil fuels, an…

The Night the Lights Go Out in Buckinghamshire

Looks like they can't build that next generation of U.K. nuclear power plants fast enough. From The Telegraph:
Street lights in suburban areas are to be switched off after midnight as part of council plans to save energy. A series of trial blackouts will be carried out over the next few weeks by local authorities in the Home Counties, Hampshire and Essex among others.

Buckinghamshire council is reported to be switching off more than 1,700 lights along 25 miles of road in an attempt to meet energy targets. It says the scheme will save £100,000 and reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 600 tons a year. If the trials are successful, all street lamps across the country could be turned off between midnight and 5am. Other areas taking part in the scheme include Maldon and Uttlesford in Essex, while parts of Hampshire have already carried out pilots. Residents' groups, police organisations and motoring groups have expressed fear that the darkness could cause increases in crime and road traff…

NEI's Energy Markets Report - January 28-February 1, 2008

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:Electricity peak prices fell $20-33/MWh at the PJM West and NEPOOL hubs as temperatures returned to normal. The ERCOT and Entergy hubs both decreased around $12/MWh and the Palo Verde and SP 15 hubs increased about $1/MWh (Platts, see pages 1 and 3).

Gas prices at the Henry Hub decreased $0.18 to $7.96/MMBtu due to moderating temperatures and easing pipeline constraints. Natural gas in storage was 2,062 billion cubic feet (Bcf) as of February 1, which is 3 percent above the 5-year average (2003-2007). At 200 Bcf, the net withdrawal from storage last week was the second-largest withdrawal reported during the current heating season (EIA, see pages 1 and 3).

Estimated nuclear plant availability fell to 92 percent last week. Fermi 2 was manually scrammed after the trip of both reactor recirculation pumps. Limerick 2 shut down automatically due to an indication of a fault on the electrical turbine distribution side of the p…

A Blogger's Tour at Crystal River 3

Chris Gent over at the Conway blog shared his thoughts on his tour of the Crystal River 3 nuclear plant in Florida:The energy complex is the second largest power-producing facility in the nation and the largest east of the Mississippi. The sprawling facility covers 4,700 acres and generates nearly 3,200 megawatts of electricity. One megawatt serves approximately 800 homes so we’re talking about a plant output that serves nearly 2.6 million homes!

The complex is comprised of four coal-fired units and one nuclear. These units came online in 1966 (Unit 1), 1969 (Unit 2), 1977 (Unit 3), 1982 (Unit 4) and 1984 (Unit 5).

Before I begin my overview of the tour, let me tell you that security at the facility is beyond intense. I’ve visited the U.S. Capitol and the White House and the security there is elementary compared to what it takes to enter this complex.

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Because the U.S. doesn’t permit the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel, nuclear plants are required to store their entire supply of spen…

NEI's Energy Markets Report - January 21-January 25, 2008

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:Electricity peak prices decreased $3-7/MWh at the ERCOT and Palo Verde hubs. The other four hubs increased $2-12/MWh. Colder temperatures at the NEPOOL and PJM West hubs elevated prices by more than $10/MWh (Platts, see pages 1 and 3).

Gas prices at the Henry Hub decreased $0.13 to $8.14/MMBtu. The holiday week and above average gas supplies contributed to the spot price declines. During the first 76 days of the heating season (began November), a net volume of 964 Bcf of natural gas was withdrawn from underground storage which was significantly higher than for the same period last year. If withdrawals for the remainder of the heating season equal the drawdown for the comparable period of last winter, storage would be about 16 percent below the previous end-of-March stocks (EIA, see pages 1 and 3).

Estimated nuclear plant availability advanced to 95 percent last week. Seabrook automatically shut down due to a turbine tr…

Utilities Turning From Coal to Gas

That's according to the New York Times:Stymied in their plans to build coal-burning power plants, American utilities are turning to natural gas to meet expected growth in demand, risking a new upward spiral in the price of that fuel.

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the executives see plants fired by natural gas as the only kind that can be constructed quickly and can supply reliable power day and night.But North American supplies of natural gas will be flat or declining in coming years, according to the Energy Information Administration. The United States already has high natural gas prices, a problem for homeowners and many industries, like chemical and fertilizer producers. Some experts fear a boom in gas demand for electricity generation will send prices even higher.

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Now, with many coal plants being canceled and demand for electricity rising by 2 percent or so a year, the prospect is that utilities will be forced to build and use a new generation of gas-fired plants regardless of the operating cost — and …

NEI Applauds DOE Budget Request

NEI said in a statment it was generally satisfied with the Energy Department's budget request for fiscal 2009 announced yesterday. The DOE request would increase funding by 79 percent next year for Nuclear Power 2010, a program aimed at helping companies build new nuclear power plants in the United States.

Nuclear Energy Institute President and Chief Executive Officer Frank L. (Skip) Bowman said the budget request properly recognizes the need for nuclear energy to remain a key element of the nation’s diverse electricity portfolio for generations to come.

“Nuclear energy enhances our energy independence, and new nuclear power plants are essential if the United States hopes to meet its energy and environmental challenges. The promise of nuclear energy technology extends beyond electricity production to include production of hydrogen and process heat for other applications,” Bowman said. “For these reasons, the administration’s investment in the Nuclear Power 2010 program, the used fue…