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Energy Diversity Strengthens the United States. How Should We Pay for It?

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the body that sets the rules for the competitive energy markets around the country, will soon take up a proposal from the Department of Energy (DOE) to adjust the pricing system, to ensure the survival of electricity generators that keep at least 90 days of fuel on hand. The department believes the current trend of unusually low power prices is pushing more of these plants, including nuclear reactors, into early retirement, and threatening the power grid’s resiliency and reliability.

At the heart of the DOE’s proposal is the idea that everybody values resilience, but at the moment, nobody pays for it. In the electricity markets today, consumers pay for energy, and they pay for capacity – that is, the ability to make energy when needed. They pay for other services on the grid, like voltage control, that keep the electrons flowing smoothly. But there isn’t a mechanism to pay for resiliency, which the federal government defines as “the ability to…
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NEI Praises Connecticut Action in Support of Nuclear Energy

Earlier this week, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed SB-1501 into law, legislation that puts nuclear energy on an equal footing with other non-emitting sources of energy in the state’s electricity marketplace.

“Gov. Malloy and the state legislature deserve praise for their decision to support Dominion’s Millstone Power Station and the 1,500 Connecticut residents who work there," said NEI President and CEO Maria Korsnick. "By opening the door to Millstone having equal access to auctions open to other non-emitting sources of electricity, the state will help preserve $1.5 billion in economic activity, grid resiliency and reliability, and clean air that all residents of the state can enjoy," Korsnick said.

Korsnick continued, "Connecticut is the third state to re-balance its electricity marketplace, joining New York and Illinois, which took their own legislative paths to preserving nuclear power plants in 2016. Now attention should turn to Columbus, where leader…

Energy Markets Are Blind to Critical Factors in the Electric Grid

Using the short-term energy markets to make long-term decisions about the electric grid will irreversibly damage the system’s diversity and resiliency, the nuclear industry told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday, as the Commission prepared to take up a request by the Secretary of Energy to reform the rules for regional electricity pricing.

The markets are well set up to minimize short-term electricity costs, but they are blind to “critical non-price factors, such as resiliency, fuel diversity and environmental performance,” the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the industry’s trade association, said in comments filed Monday with the Commission, known as FERC.


FERC sets the ground rules for the competitive energy markets that are now in place over more than half the country. But those rules have turned crucial decisions over to a very narrow set of considerations, as if the system operated in a “price-only vacuum,” NEI said in its comments.

The markets set prices that re…

Conflicting Government Rules Are Damaging the Power Grid

One of the strengths of the electric system is its diversity, with energy flowing from generators that use a variety of fuels. But conflicting government policies and poorly constructed markets are reducing that diversity, and the result will be electricity that is more expensive, more prone to price spikes, and less reliable, according to a new study.

The problem may not be immediately evident to consumers, for whom the light switch on the wall is like a water faucet connected to a vast system of reservoirs and feeder streams. As long as the water comes out, the user doesn’t really care where each drop came from. The consumer is well served by the diversity of supply, even if the diversity isn’t obvious.

The same is true for electric current.

But the power grid is changing, according to a report issued Tuesday by the economic analysis firm IHS Markit, Ensuring Resilient and Efficient Electricity Generation: The Value of the Current Diverse U.S. Power Supply Portfolio, which lays out…

A Billion Miles Under Nuclear Energy (Updated)

And the winner is…Cassini-Huygens, in triple overtime.

The spaceship conceived in 1982 and launched fifteen years later, will crash into Saturn on September 15, after a mission of 19 years and 355 days, powered by the audacity and technical prowess of scientists and engineers from 17 different countries, and 72 pounds of plutonium.

The mission was so successful that it was extended three times; it was intended to last only until 2008.

Since April, the ship has been continuing to orbit Saturn, swinging through the 1,500-mile gap between the planet and its rings, an area not previously explored. This is a good maneuver for a spaceship nearing the end of its mission, since colliding with a rock could end things early.

Cassini will dive a little deeper and plunge toward Saturn’s surface, where it will transmit data until it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere. The radio signal will arrive here early Friday morning, Eastern time. A NASA video explains.

In the years since Cassini has launc…

Sneak Peek

There's an invisible force powering and propelling our way of life.
It's all around us. You can't feel it. Smell it. Or taste it.
But it's there all the same. And if you look close enough, you can see all the amazing and wondrous things it does.
It not only powers our cities and towns.
And all the high-tech things we love.
It gives us the power to invent.
To explore.
To discover.
To create advanced technologies.
This invisible force creates jobs out of thin air.
It adds billions to our economy.
It's on even when we're not.
And stays on no matter what Mother Nature throws at it.
This invisible force takes us to the outer reaches of outer space.
And to the very depths of our oceans.
It brings us together. And it makes us better.
And most importantly, it has the power to do all this in our lifetime while barely leaving a trace.
Some people might say it's kind of unbelievable.
They wonder, what is this new power that does all these extraordinary things?

Hurricane Harvey Couldn't Stop the South Texas Project

As Hurricane Harvey battered southeast Texas over the past week, the devastation and loss of life in its wake have kept our attention and been a cause of grief.

Through the tragedy, many stories of heroics and sacrifice have emerged. Among those who have sacrificed are nearly 250 workers who have been hunkered down at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear plant in Matagorda County, Texas.

STP’s priorities were always the safety of their employees and the communities they serve. We are proud that STP continued to operate at full power throughout the storm. It is a true testament to the reliability and resiliency of not only the operators but of our industry.

The world is starting to notice what a feat it is to have maintained operations through the catastrophic event. Forbes’ Rod Adams did an excellent job describing the contribution of these men and women:

“STP storm crew members deserve to be proud of the work that they are doing. Their families should take comfort in the fact that…