PG&E Weighs New Nukes; Constellation to Sell High Desert

By Published On: August 4, 2006

Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. is considering investing in new, out-of-state nuclear power plants. The company is focusing on keeping its greenhouse gas production profile low and considers nuclear power to be a part of that strategy. “We have not ruled [nuclear investments] out, but we are in the very formative stages,” Peter Darbee, PG&E Corp. chief executive officer, said August 2. “We see nuclear as a source of fuel that does not create dependence on other countries’ natural gas and oil, and one that is consistent in the effort to reduce carbon.” David Lochbaum, Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear safety project director, claims that continued and new reliance on nuclear power plants will increase – not decrease – dependence on foreign countries. He noted that many new reactor designs are foreign, including South African, German, and French. New steam generators and reactor heads for current nuclear power plants “are purchased from foreign manufacturers,” he added. “Nuclear power increases U.S. dependence on other countries – except that we get to keep the waste,” he stated. Darbee noted that California law makes it illegal to construct new nuclear power plants within the state until there is a permanent waste-storage facility for high-level radioactive waste. The federal government’s plan to use Yucca Mountain as that permanent storage site is proving ever elusive (Circuit, May 19, 2006). PG&E, whose utility president Tom King attended a global climate conference this week with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair, touted to financial analysts this week the mix of hydroelectric and nuclear power in its portfolio, as well as internal building controls to reduce energy use. The strategy is “reducing our carbon footprint,” Darbee added. In other financial news, Constellation announced to financial analysts July 28 that it plans to sell the High Desert power plant. The 830 MW gas-fired plant is one of the company’s gas-fired fleet now on the market. The Baltimore, Maryland-based company said it will focus on its nuclear and coal-fired power plant fleet. “Gas-fired merchant [plants] are less strategically connected” to its long-term plans, said officials.

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now