The cost of electricity | Arkansas Blog

Friday, March 12, 2010

The cost of electricity

Posted By on Fri, Mar 12, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Robert Johnston, a former state legislator and former chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, offers commentary on newspaper reporting and comment on Entergy electric rates in Arkansas and the wisdom of more use of nuclear power generation (the expense that hung Arkansas in the first place with subsidizing Louisiana and Mississippi.)



DemGaz front page story on Entergy says it has billed AR ratepayers $4.5 BILLION  over the last 25 years, principally to pay for the Grand Gulf Nuclear Generating Plant in MS. On the editorial page, it says that nuclear  generation of  electricity is cheapest form of generation, only  1.9 cents / kwh.

The "econ professor" from  Univ. Mich. Flint cited in the editorial, who probably is paid by the nuclear power industry, conveniently does not include the total real costs of nuclear power – including risk of catastrophic deaths/injury plus long-term storage of wastes. 

The claims of nuclear proponents overlook, on purpose, the diseconomies of externalities –  socialization of costs but the privatization of profits. A true cost (not included) would be the commercial insurance against deaths and property damage from nuclear accidents, like Chernobyl or 3 Mile Island. The nuclear industry does not buy commercial insurance, but instead has induced the US government to provide catastrophic insurance. Welfare for the rich, who have highly paid lobbyists, is OK; welfare for the poor is bad.

Do you know where nuclear waste is stored? Almost exclusively in "temporary" storage pools on nuclear generating sites [e.g. in Arkansas and Mississippi].  This is one more instance of the electric power industry socializing the pollutants -- nuclear waste and coal gases -- onto  present and future citizens  while enjoying the privatization of the profits.

An error in the story on page 1A: the Dem Gaz  reporter  says in the 1st paragraph, "Entergy [CEO ] conceded.. that ..customers could again face millions of dollars added to their bills if a new cost-sharing agreement is reached.." (emphasis added). It is unclear from the story if the error is that of the CEO or the reporter but the correct word would be "BILLIONS."

Another irony: Buried dozens of paragraphs in the story on p. 9 is when the Entergy CEO, who is hired -- and could be fired --  by the New Orleans parent company,  admitted his pay and bonuses are determined by them but claims Entergy Arkansas is "independent."

Robert Johnston
Little Rock

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