TVA – wasteful spending on nuclear reactors
February 27, 2013
The Tennessee Valley Authority, you know, the federal agency that supplies electricity for about nine million people in the Southeast, must be crazy if the definition of insanity is described as repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different outcome.
The most outlandish example of this is how TVA has dealt with nuclear reactors from the start. First, a group of three so-called experts in the field decided wrongly on the number of reactors that would be needed for then and for long-term. They started far too many at once; costs became overwhelming and demand for electricity dropped drastically. This scenario is repeating itself yet again. But what does TVA do?
‘Let’s build so-called small modular reactors for a tenth of the cost and of course at a tenth of the power.’ That’s the prediction from the experts when the SMR has never been built or successfully tested to the consternation of TVA’s ratepayers, the ones who must pay for a very expensive experiment; its hair-pulling time.
One thing ratepayer’s dread is that they must pay again for another TVA folly. It’s a familiar theme; borrow more money and this time get even more help from the Department of Energy which is illegal on the face of it. The pattern is the same and the road is endless for can kicking.
TVA is a peculiar program of FDR’s that President Obama would like to emulate, no matter the cost or who has to pay. TVA ratepayers should have a say in any developments that directly affect their pockbook.
Costly reactors, fits and starts, have cost billions in wasted dollars. And now TVA is trying to finish two reactors that have decade’s old and obsolete technology. What to do? Why, plow ahead with old concepts none of which were time and cost estimated properly within a “budget” (using the term “budget” very loosely,) and continued use of the insanity defense?
One of the old reactors was re-started at the Browns Ferry site and TVA proclaimed that the restart was “on time and on budget,” neither of which, as it turned out, was true. But President Bush took TVA’s statement as true and repeated the error. Bush was “sandbagged”; of course, nobody at TVA was punished for lying or was fired.
The project has been plagued with problems since then but all TVA does is throw good money after bad. At one time, the NRC rated it the worst nuclear reactor in the U.S. I have knowledge from an eyewitness report that the operators acted lackadaisical and one time let a cleanup person “shut down a nuclear reactor.”
TVA says it plans to do a new “Integrated Resource Plan.” Much time and travel expense went into the present IRP, including secret meetings. The likely results would be similar; not worth the paper that it was written on. The problem is that TVA’s mission was completed many decades ago: every few years TVA has since come up with yet another “plan.”
The TVA has gone begging for congressional control; it should be abolished or absolve ratepayers’ obligation for TVA’s $30 billion debt and increasing experimental funds.