First nuclear plant in 30 years

This is great news. I’m glad we finally got a power plant. I’ve been out of the nuclear game for 12 years, but I have always wanted more nuclear power in the United States.

The Obama administration yesterday (Feb 16, 2010) pledged a conditional $8.3 billion loan guarantee to support the construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia, which would be the first new U.S. nuclear plants in more than three decades. Source: | PETER BEHR | February 17, 2010 | DOE Delivers Its First, Long-Awaited Nuclear Loan Guarantee.

Thirty years ago a series of events led to the stoppage of nuclear power in the United States. The Three Mile Island accident occurred March 28, 1979. Then a severe recession began in December 1980 and the prime interest rate eventually reached 21.5% by June 1982. Nuclear power was deemed unsafe and too expensive.

Today, terrorism is more of a concern than accidents. Unfortunately for the industry I fear the results would be the same. If an attack was successful, I think the nuclear power industry in America would shift into reverse. Existing power plants would be taken offline, and their radioactive materials would be buried deep underground. I could be wrong. They might strengthen walls, increase security, and fight back, but that is less likely considering the tension between the public and nuclear energy.

Here’s an interesting comparison. In 1977 Crystal River began operating one PWR. Doing my ol’ back of the napkin calculations, the estimated cost (in 2006 dollars) to build would have been roughly $1,365,940,000. The an average overrun of 169% the actual cost would have been roughly $3,667,926,000. So, that tells me costs went up roughly 13%. This time its not inflation or interest its labor and materials that puts the price so high.

838 MW * $1,630,000/MW = $1,365,940,000

838MW * $4,377,000/MW = $3,667,926,000