From: Sandy Perle [mailto:sandyfl@EARTHLINK.NET]
Sent: Monday April 02, 2001 5:38 PM
Nuclear solution to California power crisis urged
(ENN) April 1, 2001, To end California's electricity shortage, the
state should build a nuclear power plant to run pumps that bring
Sierra-fed water to Southern California, an Inland lawmaker said
"It's time to revisit nuclear," said Assemblyman Bill Leonard, R-San
Bernardino. He said nuclear power is clean and affordable.
Leonard has introduced Assembly Bill 1492 to suspend a 1970s state
law that, he said, effectively blocks licensing of nuclear power
But environmentalists and consumer groups insisted that nuclear power
"It's an outrageous idea," said Medea Benjamin, the Green Party
nominee for U.S. Senate last year. "Tell him to get with the 21st
An energy expert applauded Leonard's attempt to prod Californians to
take another look at nuclear power.
"We're going to as a nation, get back to nuclear power," predicted
James Sweeney, an economist and professor of engineering and
management science at Stanford University. "It will be the right
thing to do."
But even if state law is changed, Sweeney said, federal licensing and
the construction of Leonard's proposed plant would take 10 years. By
then, he said, California probably will have built enough
conventional plants to eliminate shortages.
Leonard said he is researching various aspects of nuclear power
generation and plans to refine his proposal.
A draft of a new version of the bill, not yet introduced, would
authorize the state Department of Water Resources to issue revenue
bonds and build a nuclear generator at an unspecified location -
presumably in the Central Valley, where the State Water Project's big
pumping stations are located.
As envisioned by Leonard, it would supply the juice needed to run the
State Water Project's largest pumping station at Edmonston in Kern
The Edmonston pumps use enough electricity to serve 640,000 homes, he
The entire State Water Project is California's single biggest user of
electricity, Leonard said.
The project includes 29 dams and more than 600 miles of canals that
end at Lake Perris. It consumes 2,200 megawatts - enough for 2.2
million homes, Leonard said.
"If we would become self-sufficient on the State Water Project, we
could almost single-handedly end the power shortages" plaguing
California, Leonard said.
Leonard, a 22-year veteran of the Legislature who served on the
Assembly's first utilities panel, said "the safety record of nuclear
(power) in America is incredible."
He said spent fuel rods from the proposed reactor can be stored
safely under water. He said he does not know how much it would cost
to build a nuclear generator.
The nuclear plant would be only the third built in the state and the
first to be publicly owned and operated.
At one time, privately owned electric utilities planned to build 25
nuclear generators along California's coast, said former state Energy
Commission member Gene Varanini.
Only two were built, including the San Onofre plant near San
Clemente, of which Southern California Edison is majority owner and
Riverside has a small stake. The other is Pacific Gas & Eectric's
Diablo Canyon reactor in San Luis Obispo County.
The law Leonard wants to suspend says the state should not license
additional nuclear power plants until the federal Nuclear Regulatory
Commission and state licensing officials agree the U.S. has resolved
how to dispose of nuclear waste safely and permanently. The federal
government still has not agreed on where to build a nuclear-waste
Stanford's Sweeney said "what really killed nuclear power plants was
... the cost of constructing them just got too high, given the safety
measures that had to be imposed in the plants."
Political Heavyweights Weigh In on Nuclear Issues
March 28, 2001-The airwaves have been filled over the past week with
senior Administration and congressional leaders talking about nuclear
On MSNBC's Hardball on March 21, Vice President Dick Cheney responded
to a question about the threat of global climate change by saying,
"If you want to do something about carbon dioxide emissions, then you
ought to build nuclear power plants . If you're really serious about
greenhouse gases, one of the solutions to that problem is to go back
and take another look at nuclear power."
The Vice President went on to say the policy report that he and his
energy task force are preparing for President Bush "will deal with
the nuclear questions."
Last Sunday, House Majority Whip Tom Delay (R-TX) told Tim Russert on
NBC's Meet the Press that he "absolutely" would lead the way in the
House to get nuclear energy on the agenda, and that he firmly
believes new nuclear power plants will built in the United States.
Meanwhile, on PBS's the Charlie Rose Show, Secretary of Energy
Spencer Abraham on March 21 spoke of the need for balanced energy
plan. "We're going to look at nuclear energy and what it should
provide in terms of a percentage" of a diverse energy plan that
includes natural gas, coal, hydropower and other renewable energy
Another cabinet member, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, recently
told a group of Silicon Valley executives that "the construction of
more nuclear power plants could be part of the long-term solution to
America's deepening energy troubles," according to the Industry
Standard. His comments echoed the sentiments expressed earlier this
year by Craig Barrett of Intel and Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems.