A Fact Sheet on Nuclear and Its Alternatives
- Nuclear power does not greatly help with reduction of carbon dioxide emissions because fossil fuels are
used in the mining, enrichment, and transportation of uranium. High-grade uranium ore is becoming
scarce and the more available low-grade ore requires more fossil-fuel use for uranium extraction. Nuclear
plants take so long to build, new plants will not, in any case, offset CO2 emissions before the global
warming "tipping point" is reached.
- The problem of nuclear waste disposal has yet to be resolved. The state of California bans the construction of new nuclear power plants until the question of disposal has been resolved to its satisfaction.
- The current U.S. plan to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to power new nuclear plants is seriously flawed.
Fuel processed by the new technology (UREX-Plus) is extremely vulnerable to theft by terrorists, etc.
because it is not radioactive enough to deter thieves but is still radioactive enough to be turned into nuclear weapons.
- While CPS is saying that the two new reactors it may sign on to will cost about $6 billion, reliable sources
estimate they may cost as much as $13.5 billion. The cost could be as high as $30 billion if cost overruns
match those that burdened units 1 and 2 of the South Texas Nuclear Project. These costs will be carried
- The price of uranium went from $8/lb in 2002 to $138/lb in 2007. The prices of copper, nickel, stainless steel, and concrete, used in nuclear plant construction, have also skyrocketed in recent years.
- In the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant, citizens must pay for the consequences, not owners.
Utilities are exempted from legal liabilities for nuclear plant mishaps like meltdowns – taxpayer dollars
must pay for them.
- Texas has the potential of being number one in the U.S. for solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy.
It is estimated that 3 states alone – Texas, South Dakota and North Dakota – together have enough wind
energy to provide the entire country with electricity. The wealth of no longer functioning oil and gas wells
all over Texas are of excellent potential for geothermal in the state. San Antonio sits in or near an area of
high biomass potential for electricity production.
- According to a bulletin of the Public Citizen organization, "It is technically and economically feasible for a
diverse mix of existing renewable technologies to completely meet our energy needs…. Renewable energy… could provide 50% of the world’s primary energy by 2040."
- In California, 34 solar energy projects that could produce as much as 24,000 megawatts of power have initiated requests for rights-of-way on federal lands. The California Energy Commission has identified 6 large
solar projects as the most promising. BrightSource Energy is the first company to ask permission to build,
with plans to produce 400 megawatts of power. A Pacific Gas and Electric solar project on 6,000 acres of
the Mojave Desert will generate 553 megawatts of electricity annually - enough to power 400,000 homes –
when it is completed in 2011, far sooner than when the new units of the STNP are expected to be finished.
- The Public Utilities Commission of California will spend $3.2 billion during the next decade to subsidize the
installation of solar energy for new buildings. That sum is expected to generate four times its value in
jobs in the state.
- The City of Austin has approved the building of 2 small solar projects, a 500 kW installation atop the Austin
Convention Center and a 210 kW installation at a city warehouse. Austin Energy is seeking partners in a
large solar project it is developing in West Texas. Austin has committed to meeting 20% of its energy
needs from renewables by 2020.
- The Sacramento Municipal Utility District has established and committed funding to a goal of 15% reduction
in overall energy use within 10 years. As part of this commitment, the district has funded the planting of
400,000 trees since 1990. The shade from properly placed trees can reduce peak residential energy
demand by 30-50%. Annual summertime energy savings are about double the cost of the tree plantings.
The utility estimates that the 400,000 trees already planted will save enough energy to power ca. 14,000
homes. Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C., all have ambitious
tree planting programs.
- Across the U.S., efficiency and conservation have had tangible benefits for cities. Audits and retrofits of
15 million square feet of public buildings in Chicago have resulted in $6 million in annual savings. Energy
efficiency measures in Seattle resulted in net savings of $2.5 million in only 3 years. The BP Oil Company
invested $20 million to increase energy efficiency in all its production facilities and offices and in only 3
years wound up saving $650 million in fuel costs.
- Salt Lake City, Utah, committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 7% from 1990 levels. By the
end of 2005 it had exceeded that target and boosted city revenues by increases in energy efficiency and
- In New Mexico, a 200,000 square foot plant that makes solar panels and receivers will soon begin
operations, employing about 350 people.
- Nearly 1,000 jobs are going to Pennsylvania as Spanish wind energy giant Gamesa Energy will construct
wind turbine blades there. Texas was first in line for this contract but didn’t lobby as hard as Pennsylvania
for it. Gamesa will sell 400 megawatts of wind energy to Pennsylvania utilities, enough for 135,000 homes.
- An Arizona utility has signed on to one of the world’s largest solar plants in the desert southeast of
Phoenix. It will generate 289 megawatts of electricity, fueling 70,000 homes, by 2011.
- According to Greg Harman (San Antonio Current, Oct. 24-30, 2007, CPS Must Die), "The average CPS customer
used 1,538 kW hours [of electricity] this June when the state average was 1,149 kWh…. Compare that
with Austin residents’ 1,175 kWh and San Marcos residents’ 1,130 kWh, and you start to see something is
wrong." Conservation is key to closing those gaps and even further reducing energy demand. Texas on
the whole could reduce its energy consumption substantially. The state uses twice as much energy per
person as California.