New Report Shows Building Nuclear Plants Is a Bad Investment

Media Contacts
Jenny Levin

Baltimore – Today members of the Chesapeake Safe Energy Coalition released a new Maryland PIRG report outside the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) that shows renewable energy sources can produce far more electricity than nuclear plants for less money.

The PSC is currently considering a request by Unistar, a joint venture between Constellation Energy and nuclear development partner, Electricite de France (EDF) to build a new nuclear reactor in Southern Maryland expected to cost $10 billion.

“With record numbers of ratepayers facing shutoffs because of high utility bills, Marylanders are counting on the PSC to look out for their best interests,” said Maryland PIRG State Director, Johanna Neumann. “The PSC should reject the application to build a new nuclear reactor in Maryland unless Unistar can clearly demonstrate that nuclear would be more cost-effective than other ways to meet electricity demand.”

Analysis in Maryland PIRG’s report shows that nuclear power is among the most costly approaches to addressing America’s energy problems. Energy efficiency measures can deliver more than five times the electricity output of a nuclear power per dollar invested. Combined heat and power (which generates both useful heat and electricity for a factory, a school campus or an office building) can generate nearly four times more energy than nuclear power per dollar invested, and wind farms can produce as much as 100 percent more electricity than nuclear power for every dollar invested.

“Dollar for dollar, clean energy solutions – such as energy efficiency and renewable resources – deliver far more energy than nuclear power,” said Holly Gorman, Maryland Campaign Coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Unistar’s financing scheme is contingent on receiving taxpayer backed loan guarantees to back up at least 80 percent of the cost of the proposed reactor at Calvert Cliffs. The Congressional Budget Office assumes that 50 percent of all nuclear loan guarantees are likely to default. The balance of the project will be financed through the French equivalent of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and thus, indirectly, from French taxpayers.

“Not only is Unistar not putting up its own money, but it is asking taxpayers to back a project that Wall Street deems too risky to invest in,” said Michael Mariotte, Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “In light of Wall Street’s recent ventures, that says a lot about the financial viability of Calvert Cliffs 3”.

The Maryland PIRG report recommends that Constellation and their shareholders shoulder all of the financial risk of the proposed plant, not ratepayers or taxpayers.

The PSC is also deliberating the extent of its jurisdiction over EDF’s acquisition of half of Constellation’s nuclear assets. The Chesapeake Safe Energy Coalition urges the PSC to express full jurisdiction over the merger. In particular, the PSC should consider the financial health of EDF, whose shares have dropped by over 40 percent during the last six months alone and weigh the criminal investigation currently under way against EDF for price-fixing in the European electricity market.

“Based on Constellations own history of financial and public relations turmoil, one would think they would be more careful of the company they keep”, said Allison Fisher, Energy Organizer for consumer advocacy organization, Public Citizen.  “Choosing a partner who is under fire for antitrust violation among other accusations seems like another bad call by Constellation.”

At the close of the news conference, members of the coalition dropped off copies of the report and a fact sheet with the Public Service Commission.