HEC does not have a formal, overall position on nuclear energy technology. We are aware that the units themselves emit modest carbon-equivalent emissions per kilowatt hour and we are aware, at the same time, that such technologies cause real concern with respect to uranium mining & refining, and long-term spent fuel and radioactive waste storage.
We oppose SB 271 because nuclear power is not a cost-effective climate solution:
Nuclear power is more expensive than other alternative energy resources.
According to the Wall Street investment firm Lazard, a new nuclear plant will generate electricity at an average cost of over four times the estimates of new wind and solar energy plants, respectively. Keep in mind that a state like Iowa, with a robust agribusiness and industrial sector, is generating more than 50% of their power from intermittent renewable energy sources and maintaining reliable – and affordable — power.
Nuclear power cost overruns are not a perception, they are a reality.
- The Vogtle nuclear plant on the Savannah River in Georgia was projected to cost $14 billion. That cost is now $30 billion. And counting.
- $9 billion was expended on a new nuclear plant in South Carolina and that project was eventually abandoned, creating one of the biggest scandals in South Carolina history’; there are 80% more abandoned projects than active projects globally
- Please keep in mind that both Vogtle and Summer relied to a high degree on modular AND factory-made components
Utility-scale renewables projects can be deployed much faster than SMRs.
SMRs are projected to have at least a 3-5 year timeline, taking into account fabrication and construction projects happening in parallel. In contrast, the comparably sized Riverstart solar project in Randolph County (200 Megawatts in size) was completed in less than 18 months. Less time means less risk of cost overruns.
Indiana, which has dramatically lost its energy cost competitiveness, is a state for which it would be especially unwise to roll out a costly technology like SMRs for which there are no commercial projects in the U.S.
Our current electricity mix leads us to be the 22nd most competitive state when it comes to electricity prices (as of 2017 data). Keep in mind that we were the 4th most competitive state fifteen years before.
So while HEC has no formal position on nuclear power, we do not believe that SMRs would be a cost-effective climate solution for Indiana based on the reasons above.
This bill is set to become law.