Monday, August 20, 2012

Update In the Middle of Summer

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my gleaning of what’s going on out there in the real world.
Things in Japan, a year and a half after the nuclear boondoggle, are still in quite a mess.  The cleanup is very slow and expensive, mountains of waste are being generated that have to go somewhere for a very long time, and the people are finally realizing that they have been had by the nuclear utilities.  Our radiological tech here at Humboldt Bay has been able to monitor and record a very small amount of radioactivity here from the release at Fukushima (it has a very distinct fingerprint!)  And Japan is surviving the loss of output from 53 of their 55 nuclear units.

They must have heard from Ann Coulter!

In the US, nuclear units have had their share of leaks and shutdowns.  A lot of money is going to have to be spent upgrading many units, and we’ll see if ratepayers agree to higher rates, or whether another bailout is called for.  Canada has an oversupply of electricity from their nukes, and has to take a loss by selling it to New York.  Even the big boys are starting to see the economic demise of the nuclear industry.

Renewables in California, the rest of the country, as well as the whole world continues to make incremental progress in spite of all that the fossil industry tries to impede its development.  With very high temperatures in the past month in California, the grid has averaged a 20% surplus of available electricity, in spite of the shut down of  2000MW from the troubled San Onofre nuclear units.  Since the demand is highest when the sun is shining, the new solar facilities have done what they are supposed to do…produce electricity!  The wholesale cost of all electricity in the west has not increased very much…as a matter of fact, it has averaged between 2-3 cents/kwh, about the same as it has been for years.  Even the state of Georgia is now (20 years late) beginning to see the value in solar.

So life goes on, gasoline prices are still high, due to the bungled refinery practices at Chevron.  With record refinery prices last year, you would think they would have re-invested some back into maintenance and infra-structure! 

Fires in California and Idaho, drought in the Midwest, failed corn and soybean crops, low water in the Mississippi…’s the world we choose!
Don’t forget to vote in November!

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