Wasting Clean, Cheap Power

Thanks to the Alice in Wonderland world of "green" energy policy, Illinois electricity customers are going to be paying more, while a reliable and inexpensive source of clean power will be destroyed. It is now official that what used to be an imposing lake Michigan lakefront landmark for the City of Zion, and a source of most of its local tax revenue, will now be dismantled over the next decade.    

On September 1, Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, the nation's biggest nuclear generator and owner and operator of six other Illinois nuclear plants, transferred the dual Zion Nuclear Plant licenses to EnergySolutions of Utah. 

Lost forever from the Midwest electrical grid is Zion's massive electrical generating power capacity (2,100 megawatts), even as electric rates were increased by ComEd, the Chicago area utility subsidiary of Exelon, by 17% this summer.

What could have prompted Exelon Corporation to decommission (tear down) the Dual Zion Nuclear Plant, already paid for by rate payers in the billions of dollars to construct in the '70s, along with its $1-billion decommissioning cost, which, according to Exelon, is about half of what it would cost to restart Zion?

Part of the puzzle fell into place when I came across the obit in the Chicago Tribune of James T. Ramey, 95, an advocate for nuclear energy, who was first appointed by John F. Kennedy as a commissioner of the Atomic Energy Commission.  

But even before his appointment by Kennedy, Ramey worked with Adm. Hyman Rickover in 1952 to draft the contract for the world first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus. Ramey was also instrumental in obtaining the Zion site for Argonne National Laboratory, which began developing reactors for the nation's nuclear program. Throughout Ramey's long career until his retirement in 1974, he was a public advocate of the safety of nuclear generation.

It was Three Mile Island in March of 1979 which put unnecessary fear in the hearts of Americans about the safety of nuclear energy.

Moving ahead to the year 2000 was the publication of Al Gore's book Earth in the Balance. It took until 2006, however, for Al Gore's campaign to take flight. It was then that his documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, was released as a means to educate citizens about global warming by raising public awareness. At the same time, Gore re-energized the environmental movement. 

By the time of Barack Obama's election in 2008, man-made global warming (or climate change) had become "fact" and was not open to question, despite thousands of scientists worldwide who disputed the claim that the world is heating up and will self-destruct if there isn't a reduction into the atmosphere of CO2 caused by fossil fuels. Subsequently, the EPA declared CO2 a pollutant. Going "green" had now become a fashionable, sexy thing to do. 

Now enter Chicago-based Exelon Corporation. As reported in a Tribune editorial on Monday, September 6, Exelon's John Rowe is one of the leading local advocates for "Cap and Trade." Accordingly, Exelon has made forays in both wind and solar power during this past summer, neither of which would qualify as investments of substance for Exelon if not for federal and state subsidies and local real estate and federal tax incentives. CEO John Rowe is also looking ahead to that time when Exelon Corporation will be able to sell solar and wind renewable energy credits.

Just where does this leave nuclear power here in Illinois with the unnecessary dismantling of the Zion Plant's massive power capacity, given a state mandate prohibiting the building of new nuclear plants until the national storage problem is solved, and with General Assembly legislation which mandates that 25% of electricity be generated from clean, renewable energy sources by 2025?  

Exelon Corporation shareholders should care about Exelon's decision to waste Zion, but, as is so often the case, Exelon shareholders seem indifferent to Exelon's business decisions as long as the corporation is making a profit, even if Exelon's decision to decommission Zion adversely affects the pocketbook of Illinois electric rate payers and puts the state at a disadvantage for future energy needs. 

Exelon's CEO John Rowe must know that nuclear energy is a clean and green form of energy and that it gives the biggest bang for the buck! Because profit margin is all-important, Exelon is unwilling to spend the money to restart Zion, but instead is open to accepting government money -- taxpayers' money -- to  invest in wind and solar power now and in its future renewable energy deals. 

The whole world is nuking up while the USA is nuking down. This nation will have a real energy crisis if the current trend continues. 

If renewables were so great, why the need for government subsidies? The present emphasis on green and renewable energy sources as the way of the future, while treating increased nuclear development as a stepchild, is certain to keep energy prices inflated and production at a disadvantage, for electric power is the engine that fuels the economy.
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