Tag Archives: taxpayer

Nuclear’s “bet-the-farm” risk —Moody’s

Wonder why Southern Company couldn’t get private financing for its new nukes at Plant Vogtle? Because back in June 2009 bond-rater Moody’s said this:

But from a credit perspective, the risks of building new nuclear generation are hard to ignore, entailing significantly higher business and operating risk profiles, with construction risk, huge capital costs, and continual shifts in national energy policy.

In case that wasn’t clear enough, they spelled it out further.

Nuclear’s “bet-the-farm” risk

The NRC says about 14 companies to date have submitted COL applications, proposing numerous new nuclear reactors for power generation. The first of these COL’s is expected to be approved beginning in mid-2011. Many of the COL license applications include partners, but the next table lists the primary holding company entity behind each project, and our view of the activity level associated with the endeavor.

From a credit perspective, companies that pursue new nuclear generation will take on a higher business and operating risk profile, pressuring credit ratings over the intermediate- to long-term.

Moody’s wraps up with some reassuring words for financiers, but maybe not so reassuring to we the taxpayers:

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New nukes increasingly bad business bet for Southern Company and Georgia Power

Harvey Wasserman wrote for HuffPost 9 April 2012, America’s 2 New Nukes Are on the Brink of Death,

The only two U.S. reactor projects now technically under construction are on the brink of death for financial reasons.

If they go under, there will almost certainly be no new reactors built here.

The much mythologized “nuclear renaissance” will be officially buried, and the U.S. can take a definitive leap toward a green-powered future that will actually work and that won’t threaten the continent with radioactive contamination.

Those are the stakes. And in that high-stakes poker game, it seems Southern Company is doing a little bluffing.

In Southern Company’s (SO) Q1 2012 Earnings Call 25 April 2012, its CEO Thomas Fanning revealed another little flaw in the project:

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ALEC, Trayvon Martin, CCA’s private prisons, and charter schools?

What’s the connection between the Florida law that’s letting the killer of Trayvon Martin hide, the private prisons CCA runs in Georgia and other states, and HB 797, the Georgia charter schools bill that’s on the floor today for Senate debate today? ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Paul Krugman wrote yesterday for the NYTimes, Lobbyists, Guns and Money,

ALEC seems, however, to have a special interest in privatization — that is, on turning the provision of public services, from schools to prisons, over to for-profit corporations. And some of the most prominent beneficiaries of privatization, such as the online education company K12 Inc. and the prison operator Corrections Corporation of America, are, not surprisingly, very much involved with the organization.

What this tells us, in turn, is that ALEC’s claim to stand for limited government and free markets is deeply misleading. To a large extent the organization seeks not limited government but privatized government, in which corporations get their profits from taxpayer dollars, dollars steered their way by friendly politicians. In short, ALEC isn’t so much about promoting free markets as it is about expanding crony capitalism.

And in case you were wondering, no, the kind of privatization ALEC promotes isn’t in the public interest; instead of success stories, what we’re getting is a series of scandals. Private charter schools, for example, appear to deliver a lot of profits but little in the way of educational achievement.

Same as private prisons. The only real benefit goes to private prison company executives and shareholders.
Think about that: we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population.
Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from a Birmingham jail in 1963:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
And today we have an organized threat to justice everywhere. That threat is called ALEC.


VBOE Biomass Discussion Tonight

On the agenda for tonight’s meeting of the Valdosta Board of Education is a discussion of the the biomass incinerator Wiregrass Power LLC proposes to build in Lowndes County, Georgia, just outside Valdosta. Listed in the agenda as speakers are:
  • Brad Lofton, Executive Director, Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA)
  • Dr. Brad Bergstrom
  • Dr. Gretchen Bielmyer
I hear that you can sign up at the door to speak.

For much recent discussion of this plant involving Brad Lofton, see the VLCIA category in this blog.

For more context, see the biomass category.


“We’re moving forward with permits in hand.”

The Executive Director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA) responds to my message about the biomass incinerator Wiregrass Power LLC proposes to build in Lowndes County, Georgia, just outside Valdosta. he copied the VDT and the usual list.


From: “Brad Lofton”
To: “John S. Quarterman”
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2010 12:19:12 +0000


We’re moving forward with permits in hand. Have a nice day.


Economic development affects the whole community

My response to Brad Lofton’s previous mail to me and Sunday’s exchange between Brad Lofton and Leigh Touchtom; I copied the VDT and the usual list.


From: “John S. Quarterman”
To: blofton@industrialauthority.com
Date: Mon, 27 Sep 2010 08:06:31 -0400


So you can’t provide a journal citation, thus your assertion that the stack of slides about CO2 was peer-reviewed is false.

Your assertions of environmental group support are equally dubious, as Leigh Touchton has demonstrated. Meanwhile, you ignore plain statements of opposition from medical groups such as the American Lung Association.

Dr. Tom Manning is a chemist whose specialities have little to do with renewable energy. At least three times as many VSU faculty oppose the biomass plant, as you know from reading their LTEs in the VDT.

You say you want people helping you. OK, what are these “other renewable energy projects”? You complain that people don’t get involved until late, so please tell us now, so we can get involved early.

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“We’ve read this a hundred times, and we understand it perfectly.”

Sunday correspondence between Leigh Touchton and Brad Lofton about Sierra Club support for the biomass plant. They copied the VDT and the same people as the previous messages.
From: Leigh Touchton
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2010 15:50:57 -0400
To: blofton@industrialauthority.com

Sierra Club: [quotes Sierra Club passage from Brad Lofton’s previous message.]

I wish someone on the Industrial Authority would actually read the entire Sierra Club position statement instead of cherry picking snippets they think supports their incinerator.

From: “Brad Lofton”
To: “Leigh Touchton”
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2010 20:08:46 +0000

We’ve read it ma’am and appreciate their support.

Sent from my BlackBerry Smartphone provided by Verizon

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“we have other renewable energy projects”

The Executive Director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA) responds to my request of 26 Sep 2010 for some real clean energy jobs, and a renewable energy strategy for Georgia; he copied the VDT and the same people as the previous messages.
From: “Brad Lofton”
Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2010 16:25:36 +0000

Hey John!

Thanks again for your e-mail. I refer you to my previous response, the large amount of data my staff has provided you, and all of the government (fed, local, and state) and environmental group support we enjoy. We have all permits in place, and we are moving forward enthusiastically to create green jobs in this economy! That’s good news. You’ll be pleased to know that we have other renewable energy projects we’re pursing as well in addition to our solar array (it may be small to you, but we’re being told that it’s currently the largest array in Georgia-not bad if you ask me). I wish people would spend half the energy assisting us recruit jobs than what they spend fighting economic development projects that will provide good jobs for this community. I want to apologize for providing you the wrong name for the VSU professor last week. Dr. Tom Manning is his name, and he is very much an active member of the VSU faculty. We also receive 1 mill of tax, not 1.5.

Have a nice day,


P.S. Below is the direct quote from www.sierraclub.org not only

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Banned or Blocked Biomass Incinerators

Leigh Touchton responds to Brad Lofton’s letter of 22 September 2010. WACE is Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy; more on that new organization later.


From: Leigh Touchton
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2010 20:04:48 -0400
Subject: Mr. Lofton once again misrepresents the facts
To: wace-georgia@googlegroups.com
Cc: blofton@industrialauthority.com, [and the VDT and some elected officials and other interested parties]

Dear WACE:

1. Mr. Lofton stated: “Despite what Mrs. Touchton stated, we’ve been in touch with the Massachusetts and Florida EPD, and in no way, shape, or form is either state banning biomass facilities. In fact, there are 15 scheduled now for New England, many in Mass, and a number in Florida. There have been discussions regarding the level of incentives (tax credits) allowed, but no moratorium. We’ll be happy to share our contacts with you.”

I would like for Mr. Lofton to share his contacts with WACE. Because previously his contacts at the Sierra Club were misrepresented by him. Sierra Club does NOT endorse Biomass Incineration, neither does any other major environmental organization in America.

I would also like Mr. Lofton to share his private email list of stakeholders with WACE, in particular the investors, because I would like to share some information with them. I expect transparency in our public officials and his refusal to address my letter to the editor of the Valdosta Daily Times in the same newspaper in which it was published does not lead me to believe that he is operating in good faith. I am very disturbed that any public official would state that they did not want to “energize a forum for misinformation” regarding published concerns in the local newspaper. Mr. Lofton has a duty to respond to all citizens’ concerns publicly. I am very disturbed that he thought he could privately email a group about my published letter to the editor and that the first I learned of it was nearly a month after he did so. And no, I still don’t wish to have a private telephone conversation with him or a private meeting with him, I’ve been reading all the public documents that have resulted from his supposed lengthy due diligence period. As I stated, the first I learned of this proposed biomass incinerator was when the EPD called for public comments. Mr. Lofton and Councilman James Wright were both invited to the June Women in the NAACP meeting and neither man showed up so I don’t really care to engage in who didn’t return whose phone calls. Additionally he could have made contact with the schools and churches in the area, or attended an SCLC or NAACP meeting but he did not. All our our meetings are open to the public, unlike his private list of stakeholders.

Here’s one internet article on the moratorium in Massachusetts.

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“Carbon is absolutely not an issue with our plant.”

Below is a response to my letter of 22 September 2010.


Date: On Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 3:16 PM
From: Brad Lofton <blofton@industrialauthority.com>


Thank you for your e-mail and the professional way in which you have come and met with our staff to discuss these issues. I certainly respect your concerns, especially since you felt it important enough to take the time to meet with us a number of times to pursue dialogue and exchange information.

You are absolutely correct in stating that we provided you peer reviewed scientific literature proving that biomass plants are indeed carbon neutral. Dr. Carl Manning, an environmental professor at VSU who has done significant research in biomass, agrees and completely supports our project. It is also important to note that we will be using inert landfill material that would otherwise produce methane if left to rot in a landfill. As you know, methane is considered a greenhouse gas. This is another very positive environmental benefit of our project (one of many). Carbon is absolutely not an issue with our plant.

Rest assured that no trees will be harvested for this plant. The plant’s EPD permit is very specific about this point, and federal tax credits require the use of “wood waste.” Any deviation will result in plant closure by the EPD. Our Authority would not have supported “whole log” production, because of the environmental impact and also because of the competition it would create for several of our large existing industries (PCA, Langdale) that count on whole logs for production. We made the use of “wood waste” a condition of moving forward.

A couple of other areas of misinformation that we would like to correct:

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