March 11, 2011

By Nora Ankrum
Austin Chronicle

New coalition opposes nuke proposal

A new environmental coalition has formed in opposition to NRG Energy’s proposal that the city enter into a nuclear power purchase agreement with the South Texas Project. City-owned Austin Energy owns a 16% share of STP’s two operating units; NRG plans to build two new units there and is looking for customers to buy power from it. The Solar Sí Nuclear No coalition held a press conference Tuesday with representatives of some 14 different organizations present, along with former Austin Mayor Frank Cooksey (1985-1988) and Matagorda County resident Susan Dancer, who said the financial prosperity originally promised Matagorda residents when STP was built there have never materialized; meanwhile, she said, "our environment has been permanently disadvantaged." Cooksey recalled STP’s cost overruns, noting that he served as mayor during the time when AE’s electric rates first absorbed the high costs. He also pointed to safety concerns: "I think it is immoral to create these [spent] fuel rods without having an adequate solution to safely store them and render them harmless," he said. NRG has distanced itself from STP’s past, saying that the new design is based on a unit already built in Japan without the budget and timing mishaps associated with STP. Nonetheless, the SEED Coalition’s Karen Hadden said the PPA could cost the city $13 billion to $20 billion it might otherwise invest in wind and solar. AE spokesman Carlos Cordova confirmed those numbers as "in the ballpark for the proposal that we have heard."

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