The new Obama federal budget calls for the government to collect 646 Billion dollars over the next 10 years in bids for carbon cap & trade privileges. The idea is that the government will license companies to emit carbon dioxide, but that these licenses will be limited in quantity and will be tradable by their owners.
Setting aside any skepticism about whether limits on carbon emissions will do anything useful, it is worthwhile to think about what $646 Billion means to the economy and what alternatives may be better use of the public’s money. It is, after all, the people’s money, because it will be produced out of the revenues of the companies purchasing the licenses. This means higher prices for products those companies produce. And the largest, by far, direct users of these licenses will be electric power generators — so your electricity bill will rise, and so will the bills of every industry that uses electricity — in other words, you pay in higher prices for nearly everything you buy.
So the federal government collects $646 Billion in new revenues, which are taxes on you, and then spends this money the way government always does, on waste and foolishness. And it will very likely do nothing at all beneficial for the environment. Isn’t there a better way?
Let’s suppose, as an alternative, that the same $646 Billion was invested by the private sector to build modern atomic power plants. That would purchase generating capacity of 323 one-gigawatt reactors. To put this into perspective, the total generating capacity of U.S. power plants in 2007 is estimated at 1,087 GW. To the added capacity of 323 reactors would expand U.S. energy production by 29.7%. No more energy shortages and lots of private sector jobs, too.
The 323 reactor estimate is based on Westinghouse Electric’s proposals for modern, standardized reactors built under a rational regulatory environment, i.e., licensing standardized designs, sane environmental requirements. This comes from an excellent
nuclear power web site by University of Melbourne, Australia.
The numbers in the table are the costs to generate electricity in US cents per KWHr for different interest rates and construction times. In essence, Westinghouse says it can build Advanced Builing Water nuclear reactors for $1,000 per kilowatt - after the first is built - and complete construction in 3 years each.
The cost of operating such reactors is shown below in cost per kilowatt hour. This compares favorably to coal (4.8-5.5 cents) and gas (3.9-4.1 cents) from a California study by bureaucrats trying to justify greenie energy solutions, so the numbers are probably high. (I haven’t found any other statistics yet. Maybe you know where to get them?)
Case 1, Construction Cost = $1 Billion. (Westinghouse claim for its AP1000 reactor after volume production. - abstracted from the U. of Melbourne study.)
|Interest rate||3 years||4 years||5 years||7 years|
These government bureaucrats and greenies will argue that these nuclear costs should better be estimated at 11-14 cents with estimates for wind at 3 to 6 cents (when it blows?), but with enough logical jiggery-pokery you can make numbers come out almost any way you want. And I’d trust Westinghouse before I’d trust California’ regulators any day.