Letters: Feb. 2, 2023


Nuclear power is not carbon free

Nuclear power is not carbon free (Writers on the Range, “The ‘energy gap’ nobody wants to tussle with,” Jan. 12, 2023). Enriching uranium alone requires more energy than Denver. The carbon impact of nuclear is the same as high-efficiency gas, only nuclear costs three times as much and a plant takes 10 years to build. 

No insurer will cover a nuclear operator or insure your home against nuclear accident. The industry exists because the government assumed liability under the Price-Anderson Act. Nuclear waste is born government property under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

Reactors generate plutonium and other transuranics. The half-life of plutonium 239 is 39,600 years. Ten pounds of PU 239 will become 5 pounds of PU and 5 pounds of more radioactive “daughters” in that time. After 396,000 years it will be 10 pounds of lead. High-level waste is eternal. It will outlast the formation we burn it in.

You cannot raise a cent of private capital to build a nuclear plant. Obama attempted to revive nuclear by guaranteeing 80% of the capital. The banks said, “No.” Public opinion is being “prepared” to accept complete public financing. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is rubber stamping operating license extensions for plants about to exceed design service life. 

The nuclear industry is necessary to sell and sustain our ambitious nuclear bomb program, which accounts for 80% of the Department of Energy’s budget. Guaranteed profit on construction cost and tax advantages once made nuclear seem viable. From 1952 to the present, “the peaceful atom” has been a bomb.

Gary Erb/Boulder 

Nibbles is back

Yay! Welcome back, John —
I’ve missed you!

Craig Smith/Denver

Informed electricity users

Wouldn’t it be great if Xcel Colorado customers had an easy-to-use app to minimize greenhouse gas emissions produced when charging electric vehicles (EVs) and running electric appliances and equipment? This goal can be achieved if forecasted and real-time emissions data is available to customers.

Apps exist that do just that and can be used by Colorado customers if Xcel makes emissions data available.

At the upcoming quarterly meeting, I urge the Boulder-Xcel Partnership Advisory Panel to endorse Boulder’s Public Utilities Commission proposal — require Xcel to provide day-ahead emissions forecasts so Coloradans (and software) can plan electricity use with the least emissions.

We understand that clean solar power is only possible in the daytime, but without emissions information, we don’t know whether cloudy day or nighttime power is produced by coal or natural gas or wind.

Xcel, a pioneer in wind forecasting, uses forecasts to plan what fuel to use to produce electricity.

Xcel already informs select EV customers when renewable energy production is high through its EV Smart Charging Pilot Program.

Apple shares this information with iPhone16 users so they can charge during times of cleaner energy, if local carbon emissions info is available. Is Xcel Colorado providing this data to iPhone users?

There is even a nonprofit, WattTime, whose software allows smart home devices, fleet operators, utilities, and corporations to sync timing of flexible electricity to avoid times of dirtier energy. (WattTime.org.)

An example is smart EV charging station maker, Enel X Way, whose JuiceNet Green software “leverages grid data to charge [using] the cleanest energy.”

Tell City Council, legislators, and the Public Utilities Commission that we want to be informed electricity users — to access clean energy forecasts; to have electricity rates encourage using renewables; and to be assured that excess solar and wind energy is stored (not dumped).

Julie Zahniser/Boulder

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