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NRC Issues Subsequent License Renewals for First Time to Nuclear Reactors in Florida

LCG, December 11, 2019--The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff recently approved Florida Power & Light's (FPL's) application for an additional 20 years of operation for Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Units 3 and 4. This is the first time the NRC has issued renewed licenses authorizing reactor operation from 60 to 80 years. The subsequent (or second) license renewals (SLRs) for Turkey Point Unit 3 and Unit 4 now expire on July 19, 2052 and April 10, 2053, respectively.

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New York Poised to Close Last Coal-fire Power Plant

LCG, December 4, 2019--The last operating coal-fired power plant in New York is moving toward closure shortly. Last month, Somerset Operating Company, a subsidiary of Riesling Power LLC, submitted a request to the New York State Public Service Commission (NYSPSC) to waive the state's required, 180-day notice to close the Somerset Station, allowing the facility to be retired on February 15, 2020. Closure is contingent on approvals by both NYSPSC and the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), which will evaluate if it will cause an adverse effect on grid reliability.

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Industry News

California Capsule: State Cools Off – No Outages,. But Rate Hike Proposal Generates Plenty of Heat

LCG, May 10, 2001California avoided a third straight day of rolling blackouts yesterday as temperatures dropped, enabling the California Independent System Operator to stop short of declaring a Stage 3 power emergency under which utilities are required to make involuntary power reductions to customers.

On Monday, about 100,000 electric customers in the state suffered through short periods without power, and on Tuesday the number jumped to 300,000. Yesterday, Cal-ISO had declared a Stage 2 emergency, under which utilities interrupt service to certain customers who pay lower rates in exchange for allowing curtailment of power delivery, but the next step was not required as temperatures eased.

The state was able to dodge blackouts even though a 750 megawatt generating unit in Pittsburg, across the bay from San Francisco, dropped off line with a leaky boiler tube. The old plant, purchased by Mirant Corp. from Pacific Gas & Electric Co., will be out of service two or three days for repairs.

Regulators Propose $4.8 Billion Rate Hike

Loretta Lynch, president of the California Public Utilities Commission and the state's top utility regulator, yesterday proposed rate increases that could boost residential electric bills up to 60 percent. Customers of PG&E could see monthly increases ranging from $6 to $87 and those of Southern California Edison Co. could pay between $8 and $93 more.

The brunt of the rate increases would fall on big businesses which would pay 50 percent more for electricity. While some residential increases could exceed that, householders would see an average increase of between 11 percent and 17 percent. About half of all residential customers would see no increase at all.

Lynch said she could not guarantee that additional rate increases would not be required. Pointing to the numbers in her proposal, she said "Even these astronomical average rates may prove inadequate."

The CPUC could vote on the proposed rate hikes next Monday, which would allow precious little time for public comment. "What they're doing is shutting down the comment period," complained Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association.

Lynch apologized for not presenting the plan earlier, but said she hoped such public hearings as there was time for would have the benefit of reviewing the proposal.

  • PG&E filed a motion yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court asking that it disband an unprecedented committee of ratepayers set up last week to represent consumers in the utility's bankruptcy case. The company said bankruptcy trustee Linda Edstrom Stanley exceeded her authority by designating the committee and granting it broad powers to investigate and negotiate alongside the utility and its creditors.
    PG&E also doesn't like the idea that it would have to pay for the committee's lawyers, accountants, consultants, expert witnesses and other spear carriers. And it especially doesn't like the makeup of the committee, which includes a broad array of political activists.The company characterized the committee as a collection of "special interest groups" having "well-known political and policy agendas" and a "history of aggressive lobbying and litigation." PG&E was referring to, among others, Consumers Union and The Utility Reform Network, which it said were "well-organized lobbyists and political operatives."

  • Not much of that 5,000 megawatts of new generation promised with great fanfare by California Gov. Gray Davis in February will be on line by July 1, the day he said it would be ready to get the state through a summer electricity crunch. In fact, if you don't count projects that were already well underway in February, it looks like the governor is going to come up 5,000 megawatts short.
    "We are moving heaven and earth to make sure that megawatts are on line this summer," Davis said when he announced his plan to streamline permits and speed up construction of new peaking units that could be built quickly.
    "We continue to be optimistic that we'll be able to get 5,000 megawatts by this summer by the end of this summer," said Davis spokesman Roger Salazar. "We started at ground zero and we're going to move at lightning speed."

  • California Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill had bad news yesterday for Gov. Davis, who is planning to unveil his revised budget on Monday. Hill told state lawmakers that state revenues will be $3.4 billion lower than the governor predicted in his January budget proposal. That shortfall would have been easily absorbed by the $6.6 billion surplus the state started the year with, but $6.2 billion of that has been spent dealing with the power crunch.
    New revenue projections for the fiscal year beginning July 1 are grim, showing income that is $4.8 billion less than had been predicted in January. Hill's office predicts a $3.9 billion decrease in state income tax, $500 million in sales taxes and $600 million in taxes on banks and corporations. These amounts are partially offset by small increases in insurance and estate taxes.
    Last year's tax returns yielded $1.4 billion more than had been expected, with the result that there will be $3.4 billion less for the coming fiscal year. Members of the state legislature are already looking for places to cut.
    Dan Howle, chief of staff for Sen. Steve Peace, a Southern California Democrat who is chairman of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, said the cuts would "include programs the governor is very supportive of and would like to get done, but we're in a bit of a cash crunch here, and you've got to do what you've got to do." Peace, it should be noted, was in 1996 chairman of the Joint Legislative Energy Committee that put the finishing touches on AB 1890, the legislation responsible for California's electric power crisis.
    Howle was concerned that the legislature would have trouble dealing with the financial stringencies. "A third of the Assembly has never done a budget," he said. "Another third has never dealt with anything other than huge surpluses. Now you're saying we've got to go in an cut. This could be a long hot summer."

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