Jan 8, 2018

What's ailing nuclear power

MIT electricity expert Jesse Jenkins is out with a new paper that looks to quantify the different forces that are jointly pushing down electricity prices enough to make nuclear power increasingly uneconomic.

  • The paper looks at the trajectory of wholesale power prices in the PJM Interconnection from 2008–2016. The region covers all or part of 13 states — including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia — that are together home to about a third of the U.S. nuclear fleet.

The big takeaway: The 72% decline in market prices for natural gas is by far the biggest culprit, with flat power consumption and the growth of wind power playing lesser roles (with wind only a factor in the western parts of PJM).

  • "In short, cheap natural gas may be killing the profitability of nuclear power producers in the PJM Interconnection, but stagnant electricity demand and expectations of future growth in wind generation going forward may be accomplices," Jenkins writes.
  • Why it matters: Nuclear is the largest source of carbon-free power. The research comes as a number of plants are facing retirement in coming years; several states are looking at how to keep them afloat; and, as noted above, the DOE is pushing for controversial new wholesale power market rules that would aid nukes in some markets.
  • More: A detailed summary of the research is available here.

Go deeper

Clyburn: Sanders' "socialist" label will be "extra burden" in House races

Clyburn with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday that Sen. Bernie Sanders' identification as a democratic socialist may be an "extra burden" in down-ballot House races if he were to win the Democratic nomination.

Why it matters: Clyburn's comments echo fears from many establishment Democrats, who worry the House majority they won in 2018 by taking moderate seats carried by President Trump could be at risk with Sanders at the top of the ticket.

O'Brien rejects intelligence report of Russia effort to re-elect Trump

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. Photo: Chris Usher/CBS via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien repeatedly rejected on ABC's "This Week" an assessment from a congressional briefing led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected.

Why it matters: The report put the Trump administration under fresh scrutiny in regard to steps it has been taking to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. encountered in 2016.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Italy becomes site of largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy step up emergency measures in their countries amid rising case numbers on Sunday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,462 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korea increased the infectious disease alert to red, the highest possible, as its case numbers jumped to 602 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures as it confirmed a spike from three to 132 cases in matter of days, making it the largest outbreak outside of Asia.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health