The Lake County Republican Federation held a Leadership Council Breakfast on Thursday, January 27, at The Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest.  John Tillman, CEO, Illinois Policy Institute, gave the Keynote Address. Fifty Leadership Council Members attended the event as Bronze, Silver, and Gold Circle Members and Patron Donors. 

The following elected officials and candidates were in attendance:  U.S. Congress, 10th Congressional District, Congressman Robert Dold; Illinois State Representative Sandy Cole (62nd); County Clerk Willard Helander; County Board Commissioner Steve Mountsier (Dist. 17); County Board Chairman David Stolman (Dist. 21); Judge Dan Shanes; Judge Joseph R.Waldeck; Robert Cook, Republican Party Chairman; Sandy Stuart, President Lake County Republican Federation; and TeamAmericanBlogger and Mettawa Trustee Larry Falbe. 

Opening remarks were made by Sandy Stuart, President of the Lake County Republican Federation.  He ensured all present that every gold, silver, and bronze membership helps candidates continue their mission in Lake County.

Following Stuart’s remarks, the honorable Sandy Cole, 62nd District State Representative, led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Recently elected Lake County Board Chairman, David Stolman, who replaced former Chair Suzi Schmidt after defeating incumbent Michael Bond in the 31st District, spoke on the Political Landscape of Lake County.  Mr. Stolman related how all County Board members were up for election next time around.  He then cautioned that Democrats will be mounting a campaign against present Republican County Board members in an attempt to capture a majority representation on the Board.  

David Stolman remains committed in trying to make sure all Republican Board members remain as a cohesive unit, to protect the Republican majority image.

Robert Cook, Chairman, Lake County Republican Central Committee, introduced the elected official and candidates as stated above.

Sandy Stuart was given the honor of presenting the guest speaker, CEO John Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute.   Before his introduction, Mr. Stuart spoke of the recent 67% tax increase passed in the Lame Duck Session of the General Assembly, continuing on to compliment the House Republican caucus for holding firm in its opposition to the 67% tax hike.

John Tillman initial remarks took the form of two questions:  Whether those present were happy with the election results at the federal level and then at the state level?, which called forth a resounding “Yes” for federal and “No” for state.

Tillman made the following points:

  • Elections have consequences.  Voter turnout in downstate counties was not good.  It came in at 47.7%; in Cook 51%.
  • 1.2 million people left Illinois from 1991 to 2009, one person every 10 minutes.
  • Loss of population from 1995 to 2007 resulted in $163 billion in lost income for Illinois.
  • The tax hike could really be a good thing, like Obamacare, drawing battle lines between the two parties.
  • Illinois is really a conservative state.  The Republican brand was tarnished by George Ryan.
  • Politicians are under intense pressure when it comes to holding the line on spending.
  • Reducing spending is agreed to in principle, except when it comes to “my” project.
  • Collar counties represent 24% of the suburban vote.  Republicans must appeal better to independents and women.
  • Being in the minority demands boldness from the Republican Party.
  • Municipal pensions are 80% funded because politicians don’t control the fund!
  • States with no income taxes are doing better than states with income taxes.
  • School boards are being taken over by the union (IEA).  Candidates are being selected and funded by union money.
  • It is imperative that pension reform be addressed to move Illinois forward.

John Tillman outlined a three-point plan put forth by the Illinois Policy Institute to set Illinois on a path toward financial stability.  1)  Repeal the tax hike (Only 33% of Illinoisans believe a tax increase will fix the problem.).  2)  Freeze spending (Borrowing must also stop as a means to pay down the ever increasing debt.)  3) Reform of the pension system (Public employees make more money than similar workers in private employment, with pensions far higher than Social Security recipients receive.).

Illinois Policy Institute is a nonpartisan research organization dedicated to supporting free market principles and liberty-based public policy initiatives.  Research is currently being done and shared by the Illinois Policy Institute on Budget and Taxes, Education, Government Reform and Transparency, and Transportation.  Information on these and other timely topics can be found at  http://illinoispolicy.org/ .

Closing remarks were given by Sandy Stuart.  It was emphasized that all should be involved in getting out the vote for the very important upcoming municipal elections.   

DSC00083       Sandy Stuart,  President, Lake County Republican Federation and John Tillman, CEO, Illinois Policy Institute

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With all the oxygen being sucked out of the air in anticipation of Presidents Obama’s “State of the Union” address and proposed “date night” seating arrangements, plus the disqualifying of Rahm Emanuel from the ballot, I was pleased that the Tribune devoted some space to education on Monday, January 24 with an article by Tara Malone and Darnell Little, “New data reveal worrisome trends in public schools.” 

The article concentrated on a decline of enrollment in the state’s public schools and in the Archdiocese of Chicago schools across Cook and Lake counties.

What might be the cause for this disturbing trend?   Might it have something to with whether of not children are having positive experiences during their school day?  Are students being treated as individuals?  Has high-stakes testing often replaced meaningful teaching and learning?  Is cheating common place?  Are stress-related illnesses from stomach and headaches, to depression, burnouts, and experimentation with drugs the norm?  Has anxiety and stress in pressure cooker environments resulted in student drop out and failure, given that many young people are arriving at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired?

Lake Forest School Districts #115 and #67 are rated high throughout the state in student achievement.  Even so, an independently-produced film — “Road to Nowhere” —  by a concerned mother turned filmmaker is stirring up grass roots activity for a dialogue among tax payers, parents, teachers and students.  Screenings of “Road to Nowhere,” a remarkable film which shows the high-pressure culture that has invaded our schools and our children’s lives — took place last week.  Follow-up discussions have been planned.

If upscale communities like Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, which shares Lake Forest High School, can learn from the film’s message, how much more might communities benefit where schools are failing their young people? 

Check out www.RaceToNowhere.com to find how “Road to Nowhere” can be brought to your community.

From January 23 to 29 School Choice advocates gathered all across this nation to shine a spotlight on effective education options for every child.  Despite the importance of education in a competitive world, National School Choice week had all the oxygen sucked out of it with the media’s speculation about what Obama might say in his “State of the Union” address, the proposed “date night” seating arrangements, and the disqualification of Rahm Emanual from the mayoral ballot.

As reported on January 25th in Education Week, and mentioned in Obama’s “State of the Union” address on Tuesday, January 25th, only one in five high school seniors are performing at a level deemed “proficient” in science.  The results come at a time where there is strong and growing concern also about the lackluster academic performance in math in comparison to other nations, including South Korea, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Tax payers, whether or not they have children enrolled in public or private area school, want children to have positive and to-notch educational experiences.  Yet many young people are arriving at college and the workplace unprepared and uninspired.

Why is this so?   High-stakes testing often replaces meaningful teaching and learning, resulting in in pressure cooker high stress and anxiety environments leading to stress-related illnesses, depression, burnouts, and experimentation with drugs.

Recently taxpayers, concerned citizens, teachers, and students in the upscale communities of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff where test scores are way above average, credit goes to the Executive Director of LEAD (“Linking Efforts Against Drugs”), Betty Frank-Baily, for contracting to bring “Road to Nowhere” to residents of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff for scheduled screenings.  Dialogues have already opened up among teachers, parents and students..

“Race to Nowhere” is an independently produced and timely film.  It cannot be seen in local movie theaters.  Children in all school districts would benefit by bringing “Road to Nowhere” for viewing in their communities as the film shines a light on the price young people pay when the educational process does not produce satisfactory student achievement.

It is not the responsibility of government to educate our children, but, as “Race to Nowhere” suggests, the combined efforts of the Schools, Parents and the Community.  

Check out www.RaceToNowhere.com or call (925) 310-4142 to arrange to bring “Race to Nowhere” to your home town to galvanize action to create positive change for better educated, better adjusted and happier children in your community.  America is counting on the youth of today for a better and more prosperous tomorrow.

At a time when the quality of education is at question throughout this nation as teacher unions — IEA here in Illinois — funnel money and support to influence the makeup of school boards, and where various constituencies must be satisfied before students, a remarkable film has entered the educational scene.

 There have been numerous reports disputing how Illinois ranks in terms of taxation afterthe recent income tax hike of 66%. 

True is that the state of Illinois used to be in the middle of the pack.  Its recent tax hike has elevated Illinois to the 10th highest taxed state in this country, ensuring that Illinois will no longer be competitive with neighboring states.

According to CEO John Tillman of the Illinois Policy Institute, “The negative Illinois environment is not just driving out job creators and workers, but also the income and tax revenue they represent.”

Research done by the Illinois Policy Institute shows that the effect of the tax increases will cause Illinois to lose approximately 268,660 jobs over the next three to five years, coupled with a net lose of 1,227,347 residents who between 1991 and 2009 did move to other states because of Illinois’s high tax ways.   During years 1995 and 2007 alone, the mass exodus of individuals from Illinois createda net income loss of $163 billion.

Are subscribers to the Lake Forester ready for what will immediately cost the average Illinois household $1,488 more in taxes and a loss of 268,660 jobs?  Representative Karen May certainly thought so when she voted “yes” for the tax increase during the recent Lame Duck Session in Springfield.

Senator Susan Garrett is to be applauded for listening to the people by voting against the tax hike. 

Let Representative May and Senator Garrett hear from you.  Is a larger and more intrusive government that picks the pockets of its citizens really better for Illinoisans?  

Rod Adams, a physicist and a prolific writer, posted this article on his Atomic Insights blog on Thursday, January 20,  It is his fifth post in as many days.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to include the singing by Daniel Ball of “Riding with Private Malone,” which Rod has so cleverly linked to his Zion article.   To hear “Riding with Private Malone” and how Rod links the song to The Zion Station, go to:

http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com/2011/01/for-sale-nuclear-power-p…

This is not Rod’s first blog post about The Zion Station.  For several years Rod has been advocating the restarting of Zion with postings that explain why Zion should be restarted through comparisons with other operating Nuclear Plants.

Rod’s January 20 blog post is brilliant, as he cleverly puts up for sale the Zion Nuclear Plant through his January 20 post: For Sale – Nuclear Power Plant for Less Than $1500 per Kilowatt That Can Be Running in 5 years.

Read and enjoy.  And do pass the word along to those who might be interested in buying the Zion Plant, doing the refurbishing, and then restarting the plant for a profit.   It can be done.  May that buyer be found!

Rod Adams does give credit to me and David Hollein of Barrington Hills for our tiredless work over many years to restart Zion, and it is continuing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

 

For Sale – Nuclear Power Plant for Less Than $1500 per Kilowatt Tha…

by Rod Adams

What do you think? Would serious, qualified buyers be interested in new nuclear energy capacity if they could be reasonably certain of being able to close a deal at a cost of $1,500 per kilowatt of capacity and a reasonably firm schedule leading to a licensed and completed plant in five years? Would it sweeten the pot to know that their purchase includes a great site with access to water, transmission lines, and a hospitable local work force?

There is one such opportunity available today. Based on a number of private conversations and email exchanges, I am reasonably certain that Exelon and EnergySolutions could be convinced to part with the Zion Nuclear Power Station for about $1 billion in hard cash. The new owner would become the caretaker of the existing decommissioning fund and a completed, not currently licensed nuclear power plant with relatively few cumulative running hours on a site that is robustly connected to at least two major transmission grids about 50 miles from one of America’s largest cities.

This offer is not one for a faint hearted or technically unqualified buyer. Think of it as somewhat akin to finding a low mileage, 1966 Corvette stored under a tarp in the back of someone’s garage and advertised for sale as an “old Chevy”.

After closing the deal with the current plant owners, the hard work of refurbishing the plant and restoring the quality assurance program and licensing design basis would begin. TVA’s experience with Browns Ferry and its current process in recovering Bellefonte should provide a partially beaten path to follow. Based on the fact that the plant is a reasonably standard design with several similar units still in operation and being supported, that process will involve some challenges that should be able to be overcome.

Admittedly, Zion has not been fully maintained and will need a significant amount of tender loving care. There are eight steam generators that probably need to be replaced, and and some additional major equipment that was cannibalized during the time that the plant was in a SAFESTOR condition. The displays and controls might be a bit of a challenge, but vendors are still supporting similar vintage systems. Spare parts might not be cheap, but they will be reliable and available.

My best guess for the cost of the relicensing and refurbishment is that it can be completed in about 5 years for a cost of about $2 billion. Those numbers come from knowledge of the Browns Ferry restoration project, conversations with knowledgable people, and a reasonable understanding of the time delays associated with NRC interactions.

However, like the Vette in the video above, the end result of the effort might be a asset far more valuable than what the current owner, the one who put it under a tarp about 13 years ago, can envision.

Here is a personal testimony from someone who once knew Zion pretty well.

Yes, I am a former SRO and control room supervisor from there. In fact, I helped build the place in 1973 & 1974 and then went on to operate it through the early 1980s. It was a great reactor and we had a great staff. The facility was well maintained and it was often a showcase for Westinghouse. It was also a cash cow for Commonwealth Edison. I seem to recall that the plant was built on time, under budget, for about $300 million. It was well made and dirt cheap. We pioneered the US nuclear quality assurance and nuclear plant reliability data programs. Zion is all sunken capital (or recovered capital) by now. The marginal cost of operation was low. So I cannot even remotely imagine why Exelon would retire it. This plant also was built right in the heart of the Chicago-Milwaukee customer base and load demand. It already has transmission feeds. The site had a safe, proven operating history with no major contamination issues or accidents. It had minimal environmental impact. The fishermen loved us. The local people loved the plant. It provided about 1000 direct jobs and far more local jobs and tax support to the community. It bought in highly educated permanent labor not migrant day laborers. The reactors were on a deep cold lake as well (a great lake, so to speak) meaning that there was little or no possibility that the EPA would come in and require cooling towers in the future. You could not ask for a better setup with 2200 Mwe of capacity feeding into an established electricity market. We were even capable of feeding electricity to a nearby pumped hydro storage facility in case we wanted to produce cheap baseload power and sell it back to the grid at prime peak pricing. We used low cost nuclear fuel that had unmatched supply security, and we had a corporate nuclear infrastructure that was unrivaled in the country. Eventually, like almost all PWRs, the Zion reactors required new steam generators. Yep, it seemed like a big expense to people like you and I at the time. But in the corporate world, the $200 million or so retrofit cost per reactor was peanuts. What utility today can buy 2200 Mwe of nuclear or coal baseload capacity at this locatoin for this tiny sum? No one can. We are looking at $14 to 17 billion dollar investments now for the same electricity generating capacity – at sites that are not as prime as this and with sites and reactor designs that are not as proven as this one.

So, no, I don’t have all the facts or all of the cost figures needed to re-license Zion at this point, but from what I do know, the Zion decommissioning decision doesn’t make any sense to me.

Hat tip to Nancy Thorner and David Hollein, who both remain dedicated to the mission of asking someone to please operate the currently idle nuclear power plant that has been in their figurative backyard for so many years.

I also want to thank the Exelon spokesman who explained to me that the reason that her company did not sell Zion was that no company other than EnergySolutions ever expressed any interest in purchasing the plant. As near as I can tell, the company acted a bit like the lady who kept the old Chevy under a tarp for so many years. It is hard to sell even valuable items if your advertisement is either non existent or buried in the classifieds with a description akin to “old Chevy.”Labels: Zion

In a previous post I spoke about a meeting with the Senior Communications person at Exelon Corporation who initiated the meeting to talk about The Zion Station.

Following is an e-mail exchange between Mr. Lopylinski and myself after the meeting on Thursday, January 13

Nancy,

Thanks for sending me your write-up.

In response to your questions, I did check on providing the details about our restart analysis. We cannot provide this information, as it is confidential business information.

Also, for your question about selling Zion at this point, as I mentioned it’s purely hypothetical.  We sold the plant to EnergySolutions, and we retained ownership of the land. So any potential buyer would first need to approach EnergySolutions and then us.  As I said during our meeting, why would anyone want to pay that kind of money for a nonfunctioning, inoperable nuclear plant when they could buy a perfectly good one in operating condition and with a longer lifespan for significantly less money? 

You mentioned in your write-up that Exelon transferred the facility “to Energy Solutions for shutdown.” It was actually transferred for decommissioning because, as you know, it was already shut down. 

As for the powerhouse education center, it was closed in 1998 along with the plant. We did try to rent or give it to other organizations. However, the property taxes and utility expenses were so prohibitive that nobody wanted it – even for free.

You also mentioned the market in your write-up below. As I said during our discussion, there was no electricity market at the time the plant was closed. What I should have added, which may have helped, was that any electricity we produced in the 90’s went directly to Illinois customers because there was no market and electric rates were set by the Illinois Commerce Commission. The shutdown of the plant had no impact on the price at which other generating plants could sell their output in Illinois. The Illinois regulatory structure shifted to market pricing for electricity in 2007. Exelon’s decision to decommission Zion had no impact on the market price of electricity in Illinois.

Exelon could not spend any amount of money to restart the plant without a reliable forecast that costs would be recovered through the sale of electricity over the expected remaining life of the plant.

You misunderstood my point about the condition of Zion since its shut down in 1998. The plant has been maintained in accordance with NRC standards for a permanently shutdown unit—not an operating plant.

The original decommissioning timeline for Zion was that decommissioning would start in 2020. In any case, it needed to be complete by 2058.

On reprocessing, I said it was a political issue, not a technical one. As you know, reprocessing takes place elsewhere in the world, just not in the US. It was made illegal during the Carter administration by a presidential order that was later rescinded. Reprocessing is a national policy issue that remains unsettled. Here’s a report that you might find helpful.

The above answers should close out the questions you had on Zion.

I really enjoyed our discussion last week, and thanks again for sending the write-up.

Take care,

Krista

Krista Lopykinski
Exelon Nuclear 
Sr. Manager, Midwest Communications
630.657.3602 office
630.278.9613 cell

Dear Krista,

 First of all, Krista, many thanks for your attachment of a DOE Report to Congress on Oct. 1999m A Road Map for Developing Acceleration Transmutation of Waste (ATW) Technology.

Although you suggested that your written answers to my Zion questions should be sufficient to satisfy all my previous questions about The Zion Station, I am not in agreement.

Exelon Corporation’s inability to provide details about its three restart analysis, with confidentiality given as the reason, raises red flags with me.  Over the years Exelon has time and again stated economics as the reason Zion could not restarted.  If Exelon has nothing to hide, why not release the restart analysis? Without providing at least the 2002 and 2007 analyses Exelon has really provided no meaningful data to answer the questions I have asked.  This is even more disconcerting since Rod Adams claims in his Blog to have spoken to an Exelon insider who said Exelon’s main reason for keeping the plant closed was because the added supply would have reduced customer’s prices and Exelon’s profits on its other nuclear plants.  Your statements seem to be at odds with those statement and the only way to get ot the bottom of it is to examine the actual analysis that was done.

The public certainly has a right to see the analysis upon which decisions were made by Exelon not to restart Zion — at least in 2002 and 7007 when prices were sky high.  As rate payers paid for the building of the dual Zion Plant and for its billion dollar decommissioning fund, they now have the right to know whether or not The Zion Plant was being kept closed in order to keep their electric prices higher, thereby being deprived entirely of the value of the plants which they were forced to pay for.  Rate payers certainly didn’t get their money’s worth, and now rate payers are to believe that both the monies invested in the plant’s construction and its massive power source, having lost all value, must be wasted.

Regarding the plant’s decommissioning, Krista, is Exelon or another entity keeping tabs on how Energy Solutions plans to spend its $1 billion decommissioning fund?  Please note, Krista, that dismantling costs have gone down considerably with new technology to reduce costs.

http://www.reformer.com/ci_17102016?IADID=Search-www.reformer.com-www.reformer.com

About your response to what you called a hypothetical question, would it be right to conclude that Exelon Corporation would not stand in the way if a responsible buyer were to approach Energy Solutions to buy the plant and the NRC approved of the sale? 

I was puzzled, Krista, when you spoke of perfectly good comparable nuclear plants being available for purchase by an interested party at a substantially lower price per megawatt hour, rather than consideration of a non-functioning, inoperable nuclear plant such like Zion.  Just where are these plants located in the U.S., Krista?  Could you identify them by name.  I am not aware of any and would be surprised if there are any, but I am always looking to be educated.

It was also a pleasure meeting you, Krista.  I likewise enjoyed our discussion.

I hope you won’t think unkindly of me with this further questioning.   My passion for saving The Zion Station remains as strong as ever.

Sincerely,

Nancy

 


Following are my impressions of Krista Lopykinski, Sr. Manager, Midwest Communications for Exelon Corporation, from our two-hour face-to-face meeting on Thursday, Jan. 13 in Lake Bluff, to address my questions about The Zion Station (Ms. Lopykinsk initially contacted me to set up the appointment.).

Ms. Lopykinski is an attractive, pleasant, and charming young lady (She has three young children).  In discussing The Zion Station, Krista was willing in theory to answer my questions, although she didn’t come prepared with the written detailed information requested of her in an e-mail prior to our meeting.

I expected Krista to be a high-powered corporate executive commensurate with her job.  Krista, however, didn’t live up to my expectations in her Zion pitch to me.  The facts related by Krista were not hammered home to me, but were spoken in a non-controversial tone, always with input back and forth between the both of us.  Conversation remained polite, even when I countered Krista’s explanations.  Krista listened.  She didn’t attempt to rebut my thoughts.  She was a polished PR person.   

I don’t think I would be incorrect to speculate that my knowledge of The Zion Station was far superior to what Krista had imagined it would be.   This might have accounted for Krista’s low-key approach in dealing with me.  Krista certainly recognized my passion for Nuclear Energy, telling me that in all her conversations with business leaders, etc., I’m one of the few she has ever encountered who was fully supportive of Nuclear Energy. 

Krista did inform tell me that she had already spoken to Rod Adams by phone, telling Rod that he could respond back to her if he had any further questions to address.  Rod Adams is the publisher of the excellent Atomic Insights blog on which he has posted numerous accounts about The Zion Station.  Rod, like me, believes that Zion was prematurely and unnecessarily shuttered in 1998, and that even now The Zion Station could be restarted. 

After a cordial introduction, I handed Krista a copy of my registered, certified letter sent to CEO John Rowe on November 4th of 2010, indicating that John Rowe had never responded back to me.  I suspect that Krista was well aware of these questions submitted over four months ago, but she came with no hard information in response. 

Thereafter I handed Krista the e-mail I had sent her detailing the Zion information I was particularly interested in hearing about during the course of our meeting.  Again Krista came with no hard Information in response, other than to say that if anyone had offered to buy Zion Exelon would have sold it to them, rather than transferring it to Energy Solutions for shutdown.  Krista did confirm that Exelon never attempted to find a buyer for the plant, something she had also informed Rod Adams. 

To make it easier to follow what Krista and I discussed — some Zion issues were brought up more than once — I thought it best to enumerate how Krista described Exelon’s decision to waste Zion and how I responded.  At times I initiated the conversation by first addressing a question to Krista.  

1.  Kristin was asked when and if an analysis had been done by Exelon to evaluate why, if economics was the reason, The Zion Plant was shut down in 1998 and put into StoreSafe?  Kristin responded how a financial analysis had been performed three times, in 1998, 2002, and 2006.    According to Krista, the closing of Zion was a difficult decision for Exelon to make.  In 1998 it was not economical to operate Zion because of the regulation of utilities.  Further, at the time all Exelon plants needed upgrading (steam generators), and because Zion was performing below par, Zion required more upgrading than did other Exelon plants.

Regarding the analysis done by Exelon in 2002, Kristin claimed the economy was still not good enough to consider restarting Zion, even though I pointed out to Kristin that gas prices were higher to warrant the restart of the plant.

In regards to the 2006 analysis, Exelon supposedly determined that the cost to restart Zion would be $2 billion, just for capital equipment, and that the $2 billion needed to restart Zion was “too large an amount for Exelon to consider.”  Krista didn’t say why, or give any details of the economic analysis that was done, nor did she indicate whether part of the reason Zion was kept shut was to intentionally keep electric supply limited and prices high for their other six nuclear units in the area, a question I had asked repeatedly of Krista by letter and e-mail. 

I responded telling Krista how I thought $2 billion was a reasonable amount considering the cost (possibly $20 billion or more) to construct a new plant the size of Zion.  I also explained to Krista how licenses are now being extended time and again without fail by the NRC, a procedure not done back in 1998.  Even a 2006 restart of the Zion Station would have provided Exelon, with license extensions, ample time to have Zion become a profitable nuclear plant to operate.  Upon inquiring whether the decommissioning fund could be used to restart Zion, a fund paid for by rate payers, Krista told me how the NRC requires that a decommissioning fund be established at the time a plant is built.  Further, that the fund can only be used for the eventual decommissioning of the plant. 

According to Krista, restarting Zion would have involved a big investment by Exelon Corporation.  She also said a rate increase would have been necessary.  To which I replied that rate payers in the past had already shelled out a handsome sum to build Zion, and for its decommissioning fund, and now all that money and energy is to be wasted!  Krista made no comment on how the increase of Zion’s low-cost supply might bring down the market prices for consumers and save consumers much more that the $2 billion needed to restart The Zion Plant.  Zion’s energy output would also result in an increase of emission-free electric output for the area and reduce the need for polluting coal or gas in our community, at only a fraction of the cost of solar or wind. 

2.  I pressed Krista a number of times about Exelon’s attempt to sell Zion to a responsible buyer.  Krista responded that the $2 billion price tag to restart Zion, just for the capital equipment, would in her opinion (she provided no backup analysis of this opinion) be far too prohibitive for another entity to consider purchasing.  Kristin speculated:  “Who would buy the plant to take on the $2 billion responsibility of the refurbishing, not knowing whether or not the plant’s licenses would be extended when the refurbishing was completed.”  Krista further speculated that since it would take a number of years to complete the refurbishing, and then more years after the refurbishing for the license extensions to be approved and issued by the NRC, years would have been used up of the license extension period.  My response to Krista once again emphasized the $2 billion price tag as a reasonable amount to refurbish the plant; the cost to build a comparable plant; how Nuclear Plants can run efficiently for 100 years if properly maintained; and how the land on which The Zion Station is built is fully surveyed and approved land, a difficult thing to do now days when court action can drag on for years.

Before we parted I asked Krista to inquire the following of Exelon officials and then get back to me with a response to this very important question which I had asked in my prior e-mail:  “If a responsible buyer were found for The Zion Station, would Exelon object to its sale if Energy Solution agreed to the sale and the NRC approved the sale?”  This was after Krista was unable to respond to the same question, informing me that my question was hypothetical in content.   Krista did tell me, however, that any buyer would first have to approach Energy Solution before coming to Exelon Corporation and then ComEd.

Krista did volunteer that no one had ever approached Exelon asking to buy Zion Station (Most likely the reason Krista perceived my question as a hypothetical one), upon which I inquired, “Did Exelon ever try to market it?   It was then Krista informed me of Energy Solutions’ approach to Exelon Corporation around 2007, asking to take Zion off Exelon’s hands for its decommissioning.  Exelon agreed to the overture made by Energy Solutions, as its own timetable to decommission Zion was not scheduled to begin until around 2020.  Krista could not inform me how long the decommissioning would have taken had Exelon, as the owner, assumed the responsibility.   According to Krista, allowing Energy Solutions to do the decommissioning would permit The Zion Station area to be freed up so much sooner for the people of Zion.

3.  I brought up a recent article relating how Germany is restarting its Nuclear Plants.  Krista countered that The Zion Station is most likely different from the German Nuclear Plants because of the length of time it has been in SafeStore.  Furthermore, Krista related how no Nuclear Plant has ever been reopened in the U.S. that has been placed in SafeStore. She gave no reason, however, why this wouldn’t be possible.

4.  I asked Krista what SafeStore meant in relation to The Zion Plant?  I informed Krista that according to information I have received, both plants have had engineers inside since 1998 making sure that all is maintained in accordance to standards specified by the NRC.  According to Kristin, parts and pieces of equipment have been removed from Zion and sold to other utilities.  Some pipes are missing.  Other pipes have holes punched in them so they could be drained. Other pipes have been shut off.  But despite all that was done and removed from Zion since it closure in1998, upon further questioning of Kristin, the cost to replace the equipment (refurbish) still remained fixed at $2 billion amount.

5.  Krista informed me that uprates to its six operating Nuclear Plants are being done and how uprating is a more accurate system to generate additional nuclear capacity (Which I took to mean that it costs less money to make the uprates than it would to restart Zion.). 750 Megawatts have already been added.  A future plan is in the works is to add an additional 650 megawatts, in varying amounts, across all six of Exelon’s operating Nuclear Plants here in Illinois.

6.  I inquired about the nuclear waste that will still be stored at the site of The Zion Plant even after its decommissioning.  Asked why the waste wasn’t reprocessed as in other countries?  Krista was not knowledgeable on this issue.  When I doubted whether the land would be immediately usable after the 10-year decommissioning project, I was informed that already there was interest in the land for use as an extended park area, a yacht club, and for apartments. 

Krista was sent a follow-up email on Friday, January 14 requesting the economical evaluations done in 1998, 2002 and 2006 which relate to the decisions made by Exelon Corporation not to restart the plant.   At the same time I asked Krista to humor me by inquiring of Exelon officials whether they would agree to sell Zion if a responsible buyer were found and if Zion Solutions and the NRC agreed to the sale.

Upon hearing back from Krista, the information will be passed along.

Nancy J. Thorner    331 E. Blodgett Ave., Lake Bluff, IL  60044   (847) 295-1035

Might you have visited a favorite place recently and sensed that something was different?  Such was a recent experience of mine.  Whether the owner of my favorite coffee shop just wanted to be a good citizen or saving money was his goal, I later learned that the owner had removed the mellow incandescent bulbs (Edison) from the fixtures overhead and replaced them with CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs).

Even though CFL bulbs have been praised as the greatest thing since sliced bread, my recent experience with CFL bulbs was decidedly negative.  I found that a strange tinted-blue light prevailed, that the former sense of warmth and coziness was missing possibly because of the way the CFL bulbs refract.

Claims that manufacturers have made the CFL bulbs softer did not factor into my experience, nor is it the consensus of many who find that CFL bulbs do not compare to the warmth of Edison’s classic invention.

Europe takes the lead

Europe is already well along the way of mandating the use of CFL despite complaints from museum directors and other cultural leaders who see the light cast as harsh and flickery.   Rob Long writing in the National Review:  “It is the kind of lights they used in East Germany to keep everyone sad and downcast.” 

Nevertheless, the traditional incandescent bulb is being phased out across Europe to slash carbon emissions in favor of the energy-saving bulb.  In England medical charities claim that CFL bulbs trigger epileptic fits, migraines and skin rashes in venerable people, while “a spokesman for the Federal Environment Agency in Germany warned children and expecting mothers to keep away from burst energy-saving lamps.” 

In England turning on dim, harsh fluorescent lights signals concern for the environment.  It is as if Mother Earth will somehow be convinced to return the favor with a cooler climate, even as England is experiencing its coldest winter on record!

According to a commentary in the Washington Times on January 5, 2011, and whose prognosis is right on, “We can expect much of the absurdity across the Atlantic to happen here, unless this Congress returns to Americans the freedom to choose a real light bulb.”

California leads nation in enforcing U.S. federal 2007 mandate

The 2007 Energy and Security Act, signed by President Bush, and which becomes effective nationwide on Jan.1, 2012, went into effect in CA a year early on January 1st of this year with the outlawing of the 100-watt incandescent light bulb.  The warm, natural light most Americans can enjoy and take for granted for at least another year is no longer possible for Californians.  Furthermore, it has become a crime in CA to sell newly manufactured Edison light bulbs of 100 watts or more.  

It is not surprising that CA has become the first state to say goodbye to the traditional 100-watt incandescent light bulb and the first in this nation to require a new standard for the screw-in light bulb.  A clique often spoken about California,  “As goes CA, so goes the nation,” is no longer a positive development for the rest of America.  Having banned “Happy Meal,” CA has the highest taxes in the nation, the highest electricity rates (except for New England), and is pushing its own version of cap-and-trade which will drive up electricity rates even higher and cause the exodus of even more taxpayers from the state 

After 2014, according the 2007 Energy and Security Act mandates, incandescent bulbs will no longer be sold in this country unless they meet efficiency standards.  In other words, everyone will be required to use varieties of the CFL bulbs by 2015.  

 Efficient and inexpensive 100-year Edison light bulb loses favor

It is already “lights out” for Edison light bulb manufacturers in the U.S.  The last GM factory making incandescent bulbs, located in Winchester, Virginia, closed in Sept. of 2010.  This marked a sad era with roots dating back to Thomas Edison in the 1870’s.  It also means more U.S. jobs will go overseas to China, as most of the compact fluorescent CFLs are being produced in China (CFLs require more hand labor.  Even though first developed by American engineers in the 1970’s, China can make CFLs more cheaply.).

About the Edison bulb, after 100 years to perfect Edison’s invention the incandescent bulb is inexpensive to purchase.  A 60-watt bulb often sells for as little as 29 cents, while the less pleasing light-producing squiggly bulb costs from $2 to $5 each.  Prices for higher CFL wattage bulbs and three-way configurations sometimes exceeds $10.  Many might find CFL bulbs highly desirable to use if concerns center around the environment and global warming (A 27-watt compact florescent bulb provides the same amount of light as a traditional 100-watt incandescent bulb, while consuming about 75% less energy.).

Draw backs of Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs)

But what about the downside to compact fluorescent bulbs?         

1)  All CFLs contain a tiny bit of mercury, which is highly toxic.

2)  By law, CFL bulbs must either be recycled or taken to an approved hazardous waste disposal site. 

3)  Most CFLs don’t work on dimmer switches and might actually damage this kind of switch.

4)  CFLs normally give off blue-tinted light and don’t show objects in their true colors.

5)  CFLs don’t work well outdoors in cold weather.

6)  Sensitivity to EMFs and flickering can make the use of CFLs unwise for a small percentage of the population.

The choice is ultimately ours to make

The light bulb mandate strikes me as government by fiat.  Might we have no choice but to follow through with the mandate by 2015?

But the American people do have a choice.  I refuse to make the change over to CFL bulbs.  Most likely many individuals, not unlike me, are buying enough Edison bulbs to last a lifetime.  As aesthetics are important to me, I prefer the soft light produced by the traditional bulb to the harsh light of the squiggly CFLs. 

What on earth is the point of inventing something which solves one problem, but which creates others?  Granted, energy can be saved, but at what costs?  Will the environment really benefit if the pleasing, light-generating Edison bulb is sacrificed, or is this just another feel good measure to prove to others and the world that we are doing our part to please Mother Earth all in the name of Global Warming?

Most Illinoisans, and that includes Lake Forest and Lake Bluff residents, have no idea just how deeply in debt their state is or what the fallout will be if our elected state legislators fail to deal with it properly instead of “kicking the can down the road.” as done in past years.

Just what is Illinois facing because of its unbridled and reckless spending?  Largely due the lawmakers’ own making, Illinois has a budget deficit of at least $13 billion, including a backlog of more than $6 billion in unpaid bills and almost $4 billion in missed payments to underfunded state pensions. 

According to Moody’s Investors Services, and as reported in the Wall Street Journal, Illinois shares with CA the lowest credit rating, but unlike CA Moody has assigned Illinois a negative outlook. 

Insuring the $13 billion state debt has become so costly that Bil Gross, who runs the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, CA, cautioned that Illinois was one of the states whose debt he would avoid.

It is way past time to reverse the slide into more debt.  The current year budget deficit of $13 billion represents roughly half the size of the Illinois general-fund budget.  The staggering debt can be somewhat explained when falling revenues went south a few years ago in what some say was the worst since the Great Depression.  But instead of reigning in spending to reflect the downturn, Illinois legislators continued its historic practice of delaying payments to vendors and carrying those costs from one year to the next, hoping against hope that good times were just around the corner. 

Is there any hope that Governor Quinn and our elected House and Senate legislators understand  what needs to be done to rescue Illinois from default and bankruptcy?

An examination of the Lame Duck Session of the General Assembly, called into session on Monday, January 3rd, with meetings through Tuesday, Jan. 12, offers insight into the mindset of current legislators (The 97th IL General Assembly will be sworn in on Wednesday, January 13th.).

On January 6th a tentative agreement was reached by Gov. Pat Quinn and top Democrat lawmakers of a post-election income hike of 75%, an almost doubling of the state income tax from 3% to 5.25%, for a period of four years, then falling to 3.75%.  It is reasonable to conclude that the 5.25% state income tax will remain in place after the four years are up.

Equally as devastating is the tentative agreement to increase Illinois corporate tax rates to 10.9, which represents the second highest in this nation. Good by jobs, businesses and people to neighboring states of Wisconsin and Indiana!

And what would the increased revenue from personal and corporate income taxes be used for?  For the borrowing of $12.2 billion!  Of that $8.5 billion would pay overdue bills and $3.7 billion would cover a government worker pension payment skipped in the current budget.  This sound like business as usual to me!

Not wanting to be blamed for any increase in taxes, Democrats sweetened the pot for Republicans during the Lame Duck Session, hoping to bring them on board in a show of bi-partisanship, when Medicaid reform was agreed to and sent to Governor Quinn to be signed.  Medicaid changes made were common sense ones:  No longer will Medicaid recipients be permitted to automatically re-enroll, but they will have to prove Illinois residency and show one month’s income before they can sign up.

Duplicating past mistakes, Illinois legislator seem committed to picking the pockets of its citizens and businesses for more revenue, rather than to reduce spending.  Has more revenue collected through increased taxes every led to less spending?  To the contrary, it is just the opposite.  The more money government takes in, the more money it spends.

Our two elected Democrat representatives, Representative Karen May and Senator Susan Garrett, did offer contrasting views about the need to raise taxes when speaking with them a few months ago.  Karen May is open to tax raises to help struggling Illinoisans, while Susan Garrett firmly told me that she would not vote for any tax increase unless meaningful spending cuts were made.  Only time will tell what their responses will be to the proposed 75% income tax increase by their Democrat leadership.

What is happening in Springfield can be liked to re-arrangning the deck chairs on the Titanic.  As with your own budget, it would be irresponsible and a financial disaster to spend $3 for every $2 of income.  Small business owners and individuals can’t sustain another round of tax hikes. 

The Lame Duck Session was not the time for Governor Quinn and Democrat legislators to rush through a crippling income tax increase.  Isn’t it way past time for Illinois legislators to take their leadership duties seriously by heeding a remark made by President Harry S. Truman back in the 1940’s, “The buck stops here.” 

It is spending that is the problem!  Higher taxes and borrowing will not resolve what has become a financial Armageddon in Illinois.  If not faced in a responsible way,  Illinois will continue to lose jobs, industry and people to other states as it swims in its own cesspool of red ink as a bankrupt state.

Republican legislators should avoid the trap of voting for tax increases like a plague.