Louisiana state government subsidizing private sector nuclear reactors may be in taxpayers’ future, if Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards’ “net zero” scheme sees the light of day.
Last year, Edwards jaunted into Climate Derangement Syndrome with his establishment of a task force whose goals included by 2025 reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels, by 2030 by 40 to 50 percent of that level; and by 2050 reducing emissions to net zero.
So far, the group hasn’t disgorged anything specific, although a final report doing so will come forth early next year, but it appears to pursue both front-end strategies of reducing emissions at their source by turning away from fossil fuel use and at the back end by carbon sequestration.
Never mind these goals are both ruinously expensive — with such a strategy costing the typical ratepayer an estimated $90 a month more through 2035 — and physically impossible to achieve.
Just to give one example of the latter, the demand for precious metals needed in batteries to make nonrenewable energy source use feasible gobbles up the world’s entire proven reserves of these — and one of the crucial metals involved, cobalt, China now monopolizes in part thanks to a deal brokered by Democrat Pres. Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
Illinois has a plan similar to Louisiana’s, except it unwisely has placed this into law.
And as a result, for years it has subsidized nuclear power generation and has promised five more years of it at nearly $700 million in taxpayer money.
Nuclear power presents climate alarmists with a quandary. One the one hand, it doesn’t emit gases; on the other hand, it does produce a small amount of toxic waste for eons needing sequestration. But for those who aren’t purists, they accept it as a solution replacing fossil fuels, and others tolerate it as a bridging tactic to widespread implementing of wind, solar, biomass, hydraulic, and geothermal solutions.
It would take a lot of replacement. To use Louisiana’s two nuclear facilities as an example, together these account for a capacity of 2,133 megawatts, or about 15 percent of all electricity used in the state. Given the capacity-weighted averages of wind and solar farms, to replace this would require the equivalent of about 20 solar or 11 wind installations to compensate — but likely more since Louisiana provides less than ideal conditions for both (assuming onshore turbines). And, neither is dispatchable on demand, whereas nuclear almost always is (except during unpredictable shutdowns).
However, the problem with that strategy is while the costs of solar and onshore (not offshore) wind have dropped over time — except for wind and solar when combined with battery arrays, necessary because these forms are not dispatchable — nuclear hasn’t. Thus, those providers lose market share and regulated profits to all the other sources (excluding coal and combustion turbine gas which providers are phasing out) except for biomass on price considerations.
Therefore, providers with nuclear facilities have threatened to close these, where the closure of even one knocks out a significant portion of the power stream, leaving a huge gap to fill that renewable sources alone can’t come close to mitigating. And this threat in Illinois has triggered the subsidization.
It’s not difficult to envision Louisiana in a similar situation were a policy like Illinois’ — a likely suggestion of the task force — to become law, because it has a significant portion of state power produced from nuclear. (And New Orleans, which regulates separately from the state, already is headed down this road.)
So, add this as a cost to taxpayers joining ratepayers — particularly lower income households who would be hit the hardest — to indulge the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming fantasies by elites if climate alarmism became official state policy.
Jeff Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University Shreveport. He has studied and written about Louisiana politics for more than a quarter of a century, and authors the blogs Louisiana Legislature Log and the award-winning Between the Lines. He can be reached at jeffsadowcolumn-HannaPub@yahoo.com.