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The risks of restarting Japan’s reactors, both financially and in terms of safety, would be borne by the Japanese taxpayers, while any benefits would go to the utilities and their shareholders.

24 Comments

J Mark Ramseyer, a professor at Harvard Law School (New York Times)

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Exactly. Utilities privatize their profits, but socialize their risks. Same with the financial sector. That's why the tax-paying public hates these privileged, pampered, super-rich, hypocritical ers so much.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Wonderfully narrow viewpoint, typical for a lawyer.

Benefits for consumers would be cheaper electricity, and as for safety how's about all the extra greenhouse gasses we're pumping out now to make up for all the idled NPPs?

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Benefits for consumers would be cheaper electricity

I was consumer when the reactors were in operation. My electricity bills weren't "cheap" then either,I can assure you.

how's about all the extra greenhouse gasses we're pumping out now

The single biggest contributor to greenhouse gasses is buildings. Japan's buildings are woefully under-insulated. Well, there's your solution. Too bad Japanese industry and government can't be bothered to do anything about it.

Stick it to the consumer, that's how Japan Inc. works.

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Star-vikingSep. 02, 2012 - 12:36PM JST Benefits for consumers would be cheaper electricity, and as for safety how's about all the extra greenhouse gasses we're pumping out now to make up for all the idled NPPs?

TEPCO was overcharing for electricity for decades while avoiding the necessary security upgrades. The electricity wasn't cheaper, it was more expensive. So much for your theory.

Oh, and as for the greenhouse gasses, power companies don't invest in emissions minimisation technology or alternative power technology, instead they just up the power bills and cite the shortage of fossil fuels and rising prices.

The reality is that power companies will continue to do as little as possible, while simultaneously raising prices, as long as they have a virtual monopoly.

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Not restarting the reactors will mean less production, less jobs, less money to consume. There is no a safe path for this considering the risks. The government has proposed to finish nuclear power by 2030 to allow the system (industries, and electricity companies) to cope with new times without sending them to bankruptcy. We have a country full of tectonic risks but also with no natural resources. Waiting until 2030 sounds balanced to me, giving time to explore new alternatives. Before March 11 2011... decades without saying a word about the whole matter.

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JeffLeeSep. 02, 2012 - 12:48PM JST

"Benefits for consumers would be cheaper electricity"

I was consumer when the reactors were in operation. My electricity bills weren't "cheap" then either,I can assure you.

Note I said "Cheaper", not "Cheap" as you assume.

"how's about all the extra greenhouse gasses we're pumping out now"

The single biggest contributor to greenhouse gasses is buildings. Japan's buildings are woefully under-insulated. Well, there's your solution. Too bad Japanese industry and government can't be bothered to do anything about it.

So? I said we're pumping out more, if buildings got insulated that would be good too. Also, do you have any references to your statement that buildings are the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gasses in Japan?

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FrungySep. 02, 2012 - 01:50PM JST

TEPCO was overcharing for electricity for decades while avoiding the necessary security upgrades. The electricity wasn't cheaper, it was more expensive. So much for your theory.

First, I wasn't talking about TEPCO, just power companies in general. Fossil Fuels cost, as do idled NPPs. So much for your theory.

Oh, and as for the greenhouse gasses, power companies don't invest in emissions minimisation technology or alternative power technology, instead they just up the power bills and cite the shortage of fossil fuels and rising prices.

Fossil Fuels get burnt, producing greenhouse gasses. Nuclear fuels fission, producing no greenhouse gasses. So much for your theory.

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zichiSep. 02, 2012 - 02:26PM JST

Nuclear energy was suppose to provide safe, clean and cheap power, but actually it was nothing to do with cheap power instead it was about power companies building power plants with huge subsidies and making huge profits for decades. The cost of power in Japan is 50% more than in America.

First, the "cheap fission power" thing is a myth, the quote actually refers to fusion power .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_cheap_to_meter

Also, so what if there are (alleged) huge profits and subsidies for nuclear power here? As I was talking about "cheaper power" the key information would be the relative cost with respect to the other power generation methods in Japan.

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Nuclear is only "cheap" if you run it for over 40+ years without any accidents.

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Thomas AndersonSep. 03, 2012 - 11:07AM JST

Nuclear is only "cheap" if you run it for over 40+ years without any accidents.

Well there you go, most plants in Japan have had no major accidents.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Well there you go, most plants in Japan have had no major accidents.

Did you just forget Fukushima?

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Do you have any references to your statement that buildings are the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gasses in Japan?

The Building Sector consumes more energy than any other sector. Most of this energy is produced from burning fossil fuels, making this sector the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on the planet and the single leading contributor to anthropogenic (human forcing) climate change. According to the EIA, nearly half (46.7%) of all CO2 emissions in 2009 came from the Building Sector. By comparison, transportation accounted for 33.4% of CO2 emissions and industry, just 19.9%. http://www.carbonica.org/carbon-footprint/carbon-emissions.aspx

Energy policy requires trade-offs and sacrifices, based on priorities. Enforcing building eco-standards, for instance, is one trade off Japan's power elite refuses to make. Too many powerful vested interests would be upset. Yes, there is a means of mitigation. But you don't seem to know what it is, hence my post.

Note I said "Cheaper", not "Cheap" as you assume.

Yes you did. I wanted to dispel the myth that nukes give us cheap power. Back when the EPCO's had everything their way, they still charged among the highest rates in the world. With the industry in turmoil, rates are to rise 8% -- to cover Tepco's financial nightmare, NOT because nukes are cheaper. This is TEPCO's own line. And here's your reference: http://www.power-eng.com/news/2012/09/01/tepco-raises-household-electricity-rates-by-8-46.html

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And regarding the cost of nuclear generated electricity compared to fossil fuels in Japan, here's a paper from the Institution of Electricl Engineers of Japan http://eneken.ieej.or.jp/data/4103.pdf

They state that over the past 5 years nuclear costs remained stable at 7 yen per kW hour, fossil fuels fluctuation between 9 and 12 yen per kW hour. They also estimated the costs associated with reprocessing, waste disposal and compensation at 1.3 yen per kW hour, still leaving nuclear cheaper than fossil fuels. Decommissioning was included in the 7 yen figure.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

most plants in Japan have had no major accidents.

Try writing that sentence without the 'major'. Doesn't run.

over the past 5 years nuclear costs remained stable at 7 yen per kW hour, fossil fuels fluctuation between 9 and 12 yen per kW hour. They also estimated the costs associated with reprocessing, waste disposal and compensation at 1.3 yen per kW hour, still leaving nuclear cheaper than fossil fuels. Decommissioning was included in the 7 yen figure.

And was the cost of clearing up after a Level 7 Nuclear meltdown included in the ¥7?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Thomas AndersonSep. 03, 2012 - 11:13AM JST

"Well there you go, most plants in Japan have had no major accidents."

Did you just forget Fukushima?

Did you just forget the meaning of the word "most"?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Jeff,

I followed your link, the text you quoted was not there. It must have been updated. Here is one section of the text on that page:

"The carbon footprint from the generation of power is 25% of all emissions. This is the largest single contributor to global warming."

And from your TEPCO link:

"TEPCO says the main reason for the hike is to help cover rising fuel costs for non-nuclear thermal power generation to compensate for the halt in nuclear power generation following the Fukushima disaster, triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. "

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cleoSep. 03, 2012 - 11:47AM JST

"most plants in Japan have had no major accidents."

Try writing that sentence without the 'major'. Doesn't run.

That's true, but nothing runs without some kind of accident happening - it's a law of nature.

"over the past 5 years nuclear costs remained stable at 7 yen per kW hour, fossil fuels fluctuation between 9 and 12 yen per kW hour. They also estimated the costs associated with reprocessing, waste disposal and compensation at 1.3 yen per kW hour, still leaving nuclear cheaper than fossil fuels. Decommissioning was included in the 7 yen figure."

And was the cost of clearing up after a Level 7 Nuclear meltdown included in the ¥7?

The authors assume 10 trillion yen for the 1.3 yen figure - 10 times that which PM Noda assumed in 2011 http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/20/us-japan-nuclear-noda-idUSTRE79J3W020111020?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FworldNews+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+International%29

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zichiSep. 03, 2012 - 11:26AM JST

Star-Viking

you fail to address any of the real issues with the atomic power plants. Safety. Whether nuclear energy would be cheaper without the subsidies. Disaster liability. Long term storage of nuclear waste. Employment of 80,000 nuclear gypsies, again if the power companies gave proper jobs, their costs would increase.

As do you. Would renewable energy be cheaper without the subsidies, fossil fuels? It's all relative.

If any Japanese company was in the business of giving proper jobs these days costs would increase.

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zichiSep. 03, 2012 - 04:23PM JST

Star-Viking, I read all of your linked report, and there are different figures for the cst of nuclear energy.

That's common when estimates have to be used.

There are many important areas not included in the report. Cost of nuclear disasters. Cost of storing spent nuclear fuel. The fact that 80% of the labor force at the atomic plants are nuclear gypsies.

Cost of disasters, storing fuels are addressed on page 17. As for the labour force, that would be outside the scope of the paper.

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