Good news for green power in Ohio


Regular readers know that I think that nuclear power is one of the very few ways we can provide the power we need without taking the chance that global warming is caused by carbon dioxide.  If you believe in anthropogenic global warming and don’t believe the human race should live like the Amish, then you really don’t have a choice but to endorse nuclear power.

Contrary to my custom, I will be recreating the complete story here.

Strickland details plans for nuclear plant
Business First of Columbus – by Matt Burns

A third nuclear power station proposed for Ohio likely won’t start operating for years, but government officials and energy industry executives are saying it is time to start considering its construction and Piketon is the place for it.

Politicians and executives from companies and organizations involved in the proposed multibillion-dollar project unveiled plans Thursday for an alliance that will push for development of the power station in southern Ohio. Officials said the project, if approved, would take more than a decade to complete. The initiative would create an estimated 3,000 jobs during construction and up to 700 jobs to operate the facility, provided regulators give it the OK.

With a long approval and construction road ahead and government plans for toughening emissions regulations, Gov. Ted Strickland said Ohio – the fifth-largest electricity consumer in the nation – must take planning steps now.

“We cannot wait to begin building our new energy future,” he said at the gathering in Piketon, about 60 miles south of Columbus.

Working on the Southern Ohio Clean Energy Park Alliance are Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK); French nuclear power company Areva SA; Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative; nuclear developer UniStar Nuclear Energy LLC; and USEC Inc. (NYSE:USU).

The 3,700-acre site for the plant was home to a 900-worker uranium enrichment complex that ceased operations in 2001. The government created the complex in 1954 to make uranium to fuel military reactors and for nuclear weapons.

Bethesda, Md.-based USEC, which ran the shuttered Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, has maintained a presence there with about 1,200 workers. A recently licensed American Centrifuge Plant, which will create fuel for nuclear power operations, is set to go online there in 2011, USEC told Columbus Business First.

Duke Energy executives and state officials are billing the plant as a key step in moving the state away from a dependence on coal-fired electricity, which is the source of more than 85 percent of Ohio’s electricity. The state is home to two nuclear plants in the north.

“It’s an indisputable fact that the nation and the planet are transitioning to a low-carbon future,” Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers said Thursday. “With the creation of this clean-energy park, we’re preparing to cross the bridge to that low-carbon future.”

Piketon is viewed as a strong site for the proposed plant because of its infrastructure. Strickland said in a phone interview after Thursday’s announcement that the infrastructure advantage, combined with the alliance’s past experience in nuclear development, could even move the project quicker than the average nuclear plant.

Strickland said the alliance is seeking U.S. Energy Department funding for the project’s first phase, which would include permitting. Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy would manage and oversee the project and apply for federal licensing. Duke Energy and Areva would shoulder the bulk of the project’s cost, he said, which is estimated at more than $5 billion.

U.S. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, acknowledged the dark side of the former Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The government has paid out about $325 million to workers who became ill as a result of their jobs there and it has contributed about $41 million toward medical bills, he said.

Strickland said he’s confident the industry has made performance and environmental strides that likely will eliminate any “broad-based objection” to the project.

“I believe we now are wiser, the standards are tougher and that the industry has become safer,” he said.

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