By Sherwood Martinelli
Green Nuclear Butterfly Has a Better Idea, and It Is NOT NUCLEAR.
A big issue for debate lately has been the issue of carbon trading, or at least a carbon-pricing framework in the name of reducing Global Warming. It is no accident that the Nuclear Industry is one of the largest proponents of this program, and for their own good reason. Without carbon trading, or at least a carbon penalty placed on other energy sectors (primary among them coal, oil and gas) the nuclear industry simply cannot compete in the market place, their hoped for Nuclear Renaissance dwindling away to maybe 10 new reactor builds here in America.
Some might say such a claim is heresy, state that carbon trading would be good for the environment. That may, or may not be true...what is true, and this according to the Chief Executive of GE, Jeffrey Immelt, is that nuclear CANNOT COMPETE without strong financial incentives (loan guarantees). He goes further to state, that large-scale nuclear construction would go ahead only if a high enough cost was placed on carbon-dioxide emissions.
One of the supposed SELLING POINTS of nuclear, is CHEAP ENERGY. Carbon Trading or carbon penalties will do nothing but put more profit in rich corporate hands, and drive up the average American family's monthly electric bills. That you can bank on. So, when NEI and your local nuclear power company such as Entergy, Exelon, or First Energy (just to name a few) tries to sell you on the wonders of nuclear energy, you had best listen to them with your hand on your wallet.
Going further, it is the hope of George Bush, and the nuclear industry to put us into a very precarious position where we have no choice but to travel their nuclear highway. Samuel Bodman, US energy secretary while in Rome told the World Energy Congress (speaking about just America), "We don’t need 30 of these additional units, we need 130 or 230. We are going to need a substantial increase in nuclear power if we are to deal with generating electricity on the one hand and protecting the environment on the other.” This would double the current number of reactors we now have in America, triple that number if his suggested 230 reactors is added to the 104 currently in operation. This raises two significant questions:
1. Are you prepared to have a nuclear reactor sitting in your own back yard? It is easy to embrace nuclear when your community is not being asked to make the sacrifices, your community is not the one faced with elevated cancer risks. What happens when it is your community? Do your views change?
2. In nuclears first fifty years, not one ounce of high level nuclear waste has been safely disposed of, we still do not have a viable disposal means for the waste from nuclear reactors. Are we as a nation really comfortable doubling or tripling the number of reactors in America before the DOE and the nuclear industry have a PROVEN means with which to deal with these deadly waste streams?
Just for the sake of alternatives, since the nuclear industry always claims the anti-nuclear forces never offer up other options. What if we made converting the houses in our communities to renewable energy public works projects, much like sidewalks and sewers. The town appraiser comes to your home, prices out what it will cost to put your solar systems and things on your home, and does the same for every other house in the town. Much like paying for say new sidewalks, you would pay for making your home a shining green example through increased property taxes over a period of say 15-20 years. There is a very good likelihood that your savings on your monthly ELECTRIC bill would offset the increase in your yearly property taxes. Can you imagine a town like Peekskill converting every home over to renewable energy?
Looking at my own electric bill, we would be looking at say a $200 a month savings per home on average. Times lets say 4,000 homes in the area. Do the math, and that is $800,000 a month. The big electric utilities would be HOWLING. In an earlier article, it was pointed out that some 2.5 million homes could be converted to renewable energy for the $50 Billion the nuclear industry wants in just the next two years in the form of Loan Guarantees. Again, at $200 a month per home for electric usage, we are suddenly talking $500 MILLION per month, or $6 BILLION a year that would not be going to companies like Entergy, Exelon, and First Energy. In less than nine years, citizens could REPAY that $50 Billion in loan guarantees, all the while, taking care of most of their own home energy needs themselves.
Now, there is another HUGE ADVANTAGE to this plan. It would free up that proverbial BASE LOAD that nuclear utility companies are always waving in our faces. How much BASE LOAD could be freed up if suddenly 2.5 million homes were put on self generated renewable energy? More importantly, with that kind of CASH INFLUX into the renewable energy industry, how much more affordable would the equipment be? With volume production comes price drops as renewable energy finally becomes available to the masses. Imagine using this same basic premise to put energy efficient appliances in every American Home, or too properly insulate older homes, or put in energy saving windows. The energy SAVINGS would be tremendous, and we could jump start a stalled construction sector in the process.
Just something to think about. Call me crazy, but how much environmental healing would be done with this idea? How much could we reduce the effects of Global Warming with such thinking? Living Green requires we explore new ways of living our lives, and new ways of conducting our business. and perhaps it is time to start, by rethinking how we get our energy to run our homes?