In an attempt to help rescue a flailing nuclear project, Texas Public Utility Commissioner Barry Smitherman hosted a negotiation on Feb. 12, 2010 between CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal utility, and NRG Energy, which recently bought out Reliant in Houston.
CPS and NRG have applied for a license for two new reactors at the South Texas Project site in Bay City, but CPS has gone to court recently to clarify terms of withdrawing from the project. San Antonio’s City Council was set to approve funding for the nuclear reactors when news broke that CPS had hidden a $4 billion cost increase from the public for at least half a year. Two top executives and the CPS Board Chairman had to leave. The cost of the project has ballooned from $6 billion to over $18 billion, even before licensing. There is citizen and legal opposition.
Negotiations between the utilities haven’t been successful so far and another round in court could determine financial arrangements.
Meantime, the federal government is desperately trying to hand out nuclear loan guarantees, but has no worthy projects. All along, the possibility of loan guarantees has been the carrot that has made the South Texas Project move.
“Why does the Texas Public Utility Commission completely ignore a major municipal utility, CPS Energy, lying to the ratepayers of San Antonio about nuclear costs for half a year and then turn around and try to rescue CPS’ and NRG’s economically shaky nuclear deal for two more nuclear reactors? “ asks Karen Hadden, Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. “Isn’t the PUC supposed to protect the public?”
The expensive reactors would burden ratepayers and taxpayers. They would also create radioactive waste for which there is no storage solution.