What effect will a Trump Administration have on this country’s nuclear power, waste, and weapons policies?
“Prospects for a rational approach are not bright.” That’s the conclusion of Dan Yurman, who worked at the Idaho National Laboratory for 20 years and now writes a widely read pro-nuclear blog, Neutron Bytes.
Donald Trump has nominated Rick Perry, the governor of Texas for 15 years, to be Secretary of Energy. Texas is home to Pantex, where nuclear weapons are put together and taken apart, and Waste Control Specialists (WCS), a nuclear waste dump Mr. Perry helped expand. But neither he nor members of the Trump transition team have seemed particularly aware that DOE does not mean just oil and gas. In fact, 68 percent of the DOE budget is for nuclear weapons, nuclear contamination cleanup, and nuclear power.
There have been some signs that members of the Trump team are worried about nuclear power plants closing prematurely. Mr. Trump has said he supports nuclear power, but his climate change denial undercuts the main argument nuclear proponents have been making to try to save the industry: Nuclear power’s low carbon profile helps combat climate change.
If you care about clean energy, the Snake River Alliance is for you. The Alliance advocates on all the issues you care about — including nuclear. We promote clean energy, help people conserve and adopt renewable energy, and support grassroots action. Thank you for being a member of the Alliance!
Here is a new way to help: Each year the Alliance mails thousands of renewal letters. Too many are lost or tossed by our members and supporters. Now we have a way that you can build the financial stability of the Alliance and reduce waste.
How: Sign up as a “Recurring Donor” and allow the Alliance to receive your membership fees directly – online and paper-free – every year, every quarter,or every month.
Why? To help us save staff time, postage and paper. As a Recurring Donor you will get fewer membership mailings (down to one a year) and can modify or cancel your recurring gift at any time.
For 37 years the Alliance has been here for our members. We are always looking to improve our efficiency. Please let me know how to serve you better.
Wendy Wilson, Executive Director
Idaho may have received a “D” on the website LetsGoSolar but the people of Idaho are investing in solar faster than ever.
One year ago there were zero solar farms in Idaho’s portion of Idaho Power’s service territory (which also includes part of Oregon) and less than 1000 net-metering (small generators of wind and solar). Now there are eight utility-scale solar farms in the Boise area and approximately 1200 small generators.
The Alliance’s 2016 Solarize the Valley program and the Solarize Blaine program signed up 600 Idaho families for solar assessments. These two programs facilitated installation of 80 new rooftop solar systems totaling over $1.5 million and 425kW of electric capacity in just a few months.
There are now eight utility-scale solar farms within an hour-and-twenty-minute drive of Boise. The largest is near Grandview, Idaho. It’s 80MW. The next biggest, at 40MW, is the Idaho Solar 1 project on Cloverdale Road about nine miles south of Overland Road. Third in size is the 20 MW Simco Solar farm about halfway between Boise and Mountain Home. It sits on the south side of I-84 just east of the Simco Road exit and comes right up to the freeway fence. It is easily visible from I-84.
There are also three new solar facilities near Vale, Oregon, about 15 miles west of the Idaho border in Idaho Power’s service territory and one south of Nyssa, Oregon.
The final one is in Ada County on the Kuna-Mora Road west of the intersection with Cole Road.
LetsGoSolar and similar websites see the lack of state tax incentives and low electric rates as impediments to progress, but Idaho has a lot of sun and a bright future. In 2017 the Alliance will organize another Solarize the Valley program and support Idaho Power’s new community solar program. This new program is signing up renters and smaller residential customers and helping them tap into the sun as well.
– Wendy Wilson, Executive director (with thanks to Reed Burkholder for help with research)
The Snake River Alliance helped artists from around the world learn about nuclear contamination at the Idaho National Laboratory, and their work can be seen in Holding What Can’t be Held, an exhibition at Boise’s Ming Studios (420 S 6th St) through Saturday, February 4.
On Wednesday, January 18, from 7 to 9 pm Alliance nuclear program director Beatrice Brailsford will be at Ming Studios to talk about the history of nuclear contamination in Idaho, radioactive “cleanup” efforts at the Idaho National Laboratory, current nuclear threats, and what we can do to help keep Idaho safe from further radioactive contamination. Come learn about the dangers and see artists’ responses to them.
The Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) Commission will meet Tuesday, January 17, from 8 am to 3 pm in the Lincoln Auditorium of the State Capitol. Here’s the agenda for the meeting, which looks as if it might be more informative than some other LINE meetings. Idaho Public TV often streams meetings in the Lincoln Auditorium. Tuesday morning go to http://idahoptv.org/insession/leg.cfm and click on Lincoln Auditorium.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is a deep geologic repository for plutonium-contaminated US nuclear weapons waste in New Mexico. A barrel of waste exploded in February 2014 and contaminated the underground facility. On January 4, 2016, workers again put barrels in the underground. It will be slow going. WIPP’s ventilation system has been compromised, and from now on, workers will be weighed down with heavy protective gear. Waste shipments from other Department of Energy sites, including the Idaho National Laboratory, will not begin for months.
On January 12, 2016, NuScale will submit its application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to certify the design of its small modular reactor (SMR). If the NRC determines the application is complete, it will take about 3 years to review the design. NuScale wants to build an array of 12 of its SMRs underground and underwater at the Idaho National Laboratory. The reactors would be owned by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS). Idaho Falls Power is the only Idaho electric utility that’s a member of UAMPS. No Idaho residents downstream from the proposed reactors would receive power from them.