Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

What Happens When You Shut Down a Nuclear Power Plant?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

What Happens When You Shut Down a Nuclear Power Plant?

Article excerpt

If ever there was a question about how serious the consequences are from shutting down a nuclear power plant, it was dispelled with results of a study showing that electricity generating costs rose by $350 million during the year following the 2012 closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California. Natural gas made up for much of the shortfall and as a result carbon dioxide emissions rose by 9 million metric tons, which is equivalent to putting 2 million additional cars on the road.

The economic and environmental consequences of abrupt nuclear plant shutdowns not only in California but also the possible premature retirement of nuclear plants in Florida, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania are far greater and even more troubling than the current slow growth of new nuclear plant construction. According to the economists who conducted the study, Lucas Davis of the University of California-Berkeley and Catherine Hausman of the University of Michigan, for the foreseeable future the shutdown of existing nuclear plants has far greater relevance, since it could mean the loss of thousands of megawatts of emission-free energy. And it would also cost thousands of jobs and the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

It is ironic, and also troubling, that without nuclear power which is the largest source of zero-carbon electricity in the United States it will be impossible to reduce emissions to safe and acceptable levels. When nuclear plants close, it is natural gas and sometimes coal that makes up the difference. Nuclear power does more than any other source of energy to curb carbon emissions, yet some politicians and anti-nuclear environmentalists want to shutter nuclear plants.

We need nuclear power to curb the use of fossil fuels, especially coal but also natural gas. Coal and gas combined account for 60 percent of the nation's electricity supply. Both load the atmosphere with enormous quantities of greenhouse gases. …

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