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Tour the Idaho National Lab – Your radioactive backyard

 

On Thursday, August 31, 2017, Snake River Alliance members and supporters can visit the Idaho National Laboratory. Our tours are great opportunities to get a real sense of what has happened and is happening at the Idaho National Lab. Here’s what we’ll see first-hand.

 

  • Radioactive Waste Management Complex, where plutonium from weapons production was buried above the Snake River Aquifer, and the Superfund project to dig up targeted waste is nearly complete.
  • Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center, where you’ll see 1) remote-handled plutonium waste being stabilized in a very large hot cell, 2) the government’s largest spent nuclear fuel storage pool, and 3) the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit, where a project to treat liquid high-level waste is over budget and behind schedule.
  • Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, where plutonium-contaminated waste is sorted and compacted to ship off-site sometime in the future.

 

The tour will run from 9 am to about 4 pm. It will be a long, challenging day, filled with juxtapositions. You will be close to but protected from very dangerous material. The Arco Desert, at the base of the Lemhi and Lost River ranges, is one of the most beautiful parts of our state. Humans have lived there for more than 13,000 years. Beneath INL, sixty years of nuclear contamination threatens the sole source of drinking water for 300,000 Idahoans downstream. Come see it for yourself.

 

If you have questions or already know you would like to go on the tour, please contact our nuclear program director, Beatrice Brailsford, at bbrailsford@snakeriveralliance.org.

 

 

Idahoans who want to learn more about rooftop solar will have two extra weeks to sign up with Solarize the Valley.org this summer. The free program has extended the deadline for online sign-ups to August 15th so more people can explore the option of going solar.

Solarize the Valley has been organized by Idaho’s clean energy advocacy group, the Snake River Alliance. Executive Director Wendy Wilson said, “The 2017 campaign is going very well. Folks really like to reduce their electric bill and increase their home value at the same time. Some are even plugging electric vehicles into solar panels. Over 300 people have signed up to get a free bid and we still have room for more.”

Last year, Solarize the Valley help Idahoans invest over $1 million in clean energy, added 380kW of new capacity and created new local jobs.

The program offers low, pre-negotiated prices on solar panels for those living in Ada and Canyon Counties. Those living in other southern Idaho counties are invited to sign up but installation prices may vary. Homeowners or business owners can get a free site assessment by signing up at www.solarizethevalley.org, by August 15, or by calling 208 344 9161.

Help stop bad nuclear policies

Members of the Snake River Alliance went to Washington DC this spring to help stop unsafe plans to “consolidate” nuclear waste from commercial power plants and speak out against taxpayer money for small modular reactors. Along with allies across the country, we hope to stop a bill putting our country’s nuclear waste storage policy on the wrong track yet again. You can help!

Please help us oppose H.B 3053 which would restart the failed licensing process for a permanent deep geologic waste repository at Yucca Mountain, NV. The proposal ignores both unsuitable geology and hydrology and the strong opposition of the people of Nevada.

Nevada refused to grant water rights for the repository. The bill introduced by John Shimkus of Illinois, would override state water rights. The bill also calls for interim consolidation of spent fuel without any safety, environmental, or public acceptance criteria. The Alliance signed on to a letter opposing the bill.

Please contact Idaho’s representatives and tell them you oppose HR 3053. The bill wouldn’t solve the nuclear waste problem and perpetuates a myth that the failed Yucca Mountain project could ever be opened.

Contact Idaho’s senators to tell them you oppose a second bill – HR 1551 – which has reached the Senate from the House and would extend a financial lifeline for the failing nuclear power industry. The bailout includes underwriting small modular reactors like the twelve NuScale wants to build in Idaho.

Clear back in 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Energy Policy Act set up production tax credits to subsidize new nuclear power plants to the tune of $5 billion. The problem is that no nuclear power plants have been built and none will come online by the time the program ends in 2020. The House has already passed a bill that would extend the subsidies.

HR 1551 flew through the House and has now been introduced in the Senate. Contact Idaho’s Senators and tell them you oppose HR 1551, which drains taxpayer money in a futile attempt to save the nuclear power industry.

You can contact Idaho Congressional Representatives at:

Rep. Mike Simpson- 202-225-5531

Rep. Raul Labrador- 202-225-6611

Sen. James Risch- 202-224-2752 or 208-342-7985

Sen. Mike Crapo- 202-224-6142 or 208-334-1776

 

While “net neutrality” has been in the public mind for years, the fight for “grid neutrality” has just begun. Across America, and potentially in Idaho, home and business owners who invest in clean energy face the prospect of discriminatory fees to access the power grid. The principals of grid neutrality protect fair prices for all electric customers and prevent people with solar or wind from being penalized.

A recent New York Times piece shows that equal public access to the grid is under threat from fossil-fuel industry lobbyists working to eliminate solar net metering programs across the country. This would force consumers to keep buying something we don’t want any more – electricity generated by polluting-spewing coal and natural gas plants.

Idaho’s net energy metering program is vulnerable to this misguided effort.

Over 1,200 Idaho Power customers have rooftop solar or small wind generators. These net meter customers gladly pay $5 per month for access to the electric grid. Just like other Idaho Power customers, this minimum applies even if no power is used in a given month.

Idaho Power has raised concerns that this might not be enough to fully recover the costs of operating the grid in the future and wants to cap the net metering program now. The company wants customers who install solar panels today to agree in advance to pay undisclosed higher rates and fees in the future.

It’s clearly not fair to charge people with rooftop solar more than other customers for access to the electric grid. If the utility truly isn’t charging enough to cover the costs of the grid then rates should be adjusted for all customers – not just solar power users.

As important as net neutrality is to the future of the internet, grid neutrality is to our energy system beyond fossil fuels. Without grid neutrality green energy users will soon balk at unfair extra fees and charges. If they to go off of the grid, not only will the utilities will lose customers but society will lose a chance to build a truly integrated smart grid.

Despite these uncertainties, there has never been a better time to invest in solar power. The cost of panels is at an all-time low. The 30% federal tax credit and state deductions make it even more affordable. We need policies to support these investments and local solar jobs. We can’t let fear tactics from the fossil fuel industry hold us back.

The Snake River Alliance is talking with Idaho Power and the Idaho Public Utilities Commission about grid neutrality and the costs and benefits of solar and distributed energy in Idaho. But right now, Idaho’s net metering program isn’t broken. Today all customers pay the same base rates. Policies that discriminate or penalize customers for installing wind power or solar panels should be turned back.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/08/climate/rooftop-solar-panels-tax-credits-utility-companies-lobbying.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

http://www.energyandpolicy.org/nyt-utilities-slow-rooftop-solar/

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/grid-neutrality-principles-for-tomorrows-electricity-sector

Jul 10 2017

Radioactive Waste