I would like to thank the Muscatine Journal editor for keeping the Muscatine community aware of America’s future electricity concerns by printing the editorial on April 27 regarding the nation’s energy grid and NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard). Many of S.A.F.E.’s (Saving America’s Farmland and Environment) members started as NIMBYs. Who in their right mind would want a nuclear plant in their back yard after Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima? As we researched and pooled the information we found in regards to nuclear power plants, it became evident we don’t want a nuclear plant in ANYBODY’S back yard.

Consider these monetary concerns:

U.S. Department of Energy estimated levelized generation costs per megawatt for year 2017:

  • Natural Gas Advanced Combined Cycle - $65.50
  • Wind - $96.80
  • Coal – $99.60
  • Geothermal - $99.60
  • Advanced Nuclear - $112.70

According to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union, 11 U.S. nuclear plants have been identified as being in danger of closing due to natural gas being a cheaper generation source.

According to Rich Singer, a V.P. of MidAmerican Energy, nuclear plant construction costs $5,000 to $6,000 per kwh, compared to natural gas plant construction which has the lowest capital construction cost for base load generation.

MidAmerican has twice requested Iowa legislators grant a rate increase to forward fund the nuclear project in an effort to put the fiscal burden on consumers and in turn, protecting their shareholders from the tremendous financial risk.

The federal government is forced to guarantee loans for nuclear construction because many private investors deem nuclear plants too risky to invest in.

Consider these health and environmental concerns:

All nuclear power plants in the U.S. have radiation releases which are allowed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Increased birth defects and cancer risks (especially with children) occur downwind and near the nuclear site.

According to the National Academy of Science, any exposure to radiation, no matter how slight, boosts cancer risk.

At least 75% of nuclear power sites in the U.S. have had radioactive tritium leaks.

Current regulations state all radioactive nuclear waste will be stored on site, forever.

Rich Singer projected 2030 as the estimated year of completion for a proposed nuclear site. This does nothing to provide for our imminent need for more electricity in 2020 that was referenced in the editorial.

World demand for food is outpacing the supply and has resulted in record high food prices in the grocery stores which brings up growing concerns that we must increase our agricultural production to meet world demand. Otherwise, we may have empty refrigerators as well as having the dark backyards you referenced.

These are only a few examples of why S.A.F.E. is working to encourage the development of emission compliant plants such as clean coal, natural gas, geothermal, or biomass generation on existing plant sites that are being decommissioned. MidAmerican has five such sites. These decommissioned sites provide existing zoning, transmission lines, and infrastructure such as rail spurs, water sources, substations, road ways, and so on. We can encourage this type of construction by providing comparable tax incentives for re-utilizing existing generation sites that are currently given to companies constructing new plants on undeveloped land.

Our solution provides more acceptable, cost effective generation replacement than either of MidAmerican’s proposals as well as the ability to meet our projected electrical needs in 2020. This concept allows for keeping some of the most productive agricultural land in the world in production. Intelligent land utilization is what the American people are going to have to start demanding if we hope to keep the lights on as well as having affordable food.

Angela Henning

S.A.F.E. Member

Muscatine, Iowa

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