Tag Archives: Department of Energy

Sabal Trail admits no Georgia customers, tree destruction, to VDT

The VDT’s page-long coverage wasn’t just fluff. Spectra’s Andrea Grover admitted they need complete survey data, and Sabal Trail admitted they have no Georgia customers, which means they have no Georgia eminent domain, so every landowner who refuses is indeed putting a crimp into Spectra’s fracked methane pipeline. Plus Grover admitted trees don’t grow back fast, so her promise “It’s restored to what it was before” is pretty hollow. She admitted she knows the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Fuels can approve LNG export, but she didn’t admit that it has already done so for three companies right there Spectra’s Sabal Trail pipeline leads on Florida’s Atlantic coast. She still can’t seem to remember Spectra’s long list of safety violations. And she’d already forgotten exactly when her posse of seven rode into Leesburg, GA seeking an eminent domain court order, and rode away without it.

Not a word, though, about Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter’s fourteen points of Continue reading

Fourth extension on Vogtle nuclear loan guarantee deadline

Southern Company doesn’t want to pay $17 to $52 million to get an $8.33 billion federal loan guarantee. That’s 0.2% to 0.62%. Why should we guarantee SO’s bad bet for pennies down? Let’s just call it off!

Ray Henry wrote for AP yesterday, Talks continue over Ga. nuclear plant loans,

Three years after the U.S. government promised $8.3 billion in lending for a nuclear plant in Georgia, Southern Co. and its partners have not sealed a deal.

President Barack Obama’s administration recently agreed to a fourth extension of the deadline for finalizing lending agreements between Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power and the other owners of the nuclear plant now under construction. Congress authorized the funding in 2005 to revive a nuclear industry that at the time expected growth.

Few utilities secured even a preliminary agreement, mostly because power companies dropped plans to build nuclear plants. The Great Recession trimmed the demand for energy, and plummeting natural gas prices made it cheaper to build gas-fired plants. The slumping economy also pushed interest rates to historic lows, reducing borrowing costs and undercutting the need for subsidized lending.

All that and ten nukes have been closed or cancelled in the past year. Even France’s EDF has exited nukes in the U.S. and has already built more U.S. solar and wind power than SO’s new Plant Vogtle nukes would produce.

Southern Company now claims this federal loan guarantee isn’t necessary: Continue reading

Vogtle nuke loan deadline extended for third time

We don’t know the federal cost estimates or the terms and conditions or why Plant Vogtle just got another three month extension on that $8.33 billion federal loan guarantee.

Rob Pavey wrote for the August Chronicle yesterday, Federal loan guarantee offer for Vogtle expansion extended again,

The owners of Plant Vogtle have secured — for the third time — an extension to allow further negotiation with the U.S. Energy Department over its 2010 offer of up to $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees to help finance two new nuclear reactors.

Georgia Power and co-owners Oglethorpe Power and Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia were conditionally approved in February 2010 for loan-guarantee financing, in which the government promises to assume a company’s debt if the company defaults. However, the details were never agreed on. Two extensions have since expired, with the most recent deadline — June 30 — passing without any formal agreement in place. Jeannice M.W. Hall, a Southern Co. spokeswoman, said in an e-mail Wednesday that the new extension sets a Sept. 30 deadline for completing the loan guarantee arrangements.

With Southern Company’s stock already downgraded because of Kemper Coal and Plant Vogtle, after S&P’s downgraded SO’s credit, and with still more cost overruns at Kemper on top of Vogtle being 19 months late and a billion dollars over budget, as Gloria Tatum asked back in May, why is SO gambling on nuclear instead of solar?

If you’re tired of this, you can ask DoE Secretary Ernest Moniz to revoke that loan.


U.S. has plenty of solar energy everywhere —Jennifer DeCesaro of DoE

Jennifer DeCesaro of the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) said she liked showing a map of U.S. insolation outside the U.S. southwest because then she could point out that Spain has not as good resources and a larger solar market, while Germany, the world leader in deployed solar, has solar resources like the state of Alaska. So the U.S. has plenty of solar energy everywhere.

She made a few other comparisons between U.S. and Germany. U.S.: 30% investment tax credit. Germany: National Feed-in Tariff.

She talked about SunShot: the Apollo mission of our time. It aims to reduce solar costs by 75% by the end of the decade, making solar cost-competitive with fossil fuels without subsidy.

Actual panels cost about the same in U.S. and Germany, but the rest Continue reading

Current costs of major power sources

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, here are the current costs of coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind (onshore and offshore), solar (electrical and hot water), geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric:

Here’s a four page explanation of that table.

Coal is not the cheapest: natural gas is. Onshore wind actually costs about the same as coal, and less than nuclear. Offshore wind is currently about 2.5 times more expensive.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) currently costs a bit more than twice as much as coal, and already less than offshore wind.

The table does not take into account the environmental costs of the various power sources, or obviously coal would fare far worse, and biomass would not be rated anywhere near as good as wind.

Remember, the cost of solar is falling rapidly, so solar will rapidly become more cost-effective compared to other energy sources.


Sunshot: solar cheaper than coal in six years

Solar is expensive at the moment, but that could change rapidly. David Biello writes in Scientific American yesterday:
The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) aims to change that by bringing down the cost of solar electricity via a new program dubbed “SunShot,” an homage to President John Kennedy’s “moon shot” pledge in 1961.

“If you can get solar electricity down at [$1 per watt], and it scales without subsidies, gosh, I think that’s pretty good for the climate,” notes Arun Majumdar, director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA–e), the DoE’s high-risk research effort. “With SunShot, the goal is to reduce the cost of solar to [$1 per watt] in the next six years.”

Hm, so maybe Ray Kurzweil is right.

DoE Secretary Chu even thinks we could win something else:

“Just because we lost the lead doesn’t mean we can’t get it back,” Chu said. “We still have the opportunity to lead the world in clean energy…but time is running out.”
Meanwhile, we could shift fossil fuel subsidies over to solar and get on with it.