Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Energy Secretary Chu Avoids Angering the President's Hometown Utility, Nuclear Giant Exelon (EXC)

"Senator Obama has some questions to answer about his dealings with one of his largest contributors, Exelon, a big nuclear power company. Apparently he cut some deals behind closed doors to protect them from full disclosure in the nuclear industry."
--Hillary Clinton, ABC-Politico Forum, Feb. 11, 2008.
Exelon has the largest nuclear generating capacity in the country. Before the President made an honest man of him, David Axelrod was a consultant to EXC.*
Had cap-and-trade passed Exelon bragged that they would have windfall profits in excess of $1 billion per year from emission permits giveaways.**
Here's the Secretary via Bloomberg:

Chu Says U.S. Doesn’t Need to Suspend New Nuclear Plant Permits
Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the U.S. doesn’t need to suspend work on new nuclear permits while investigating the crisis in Japan, where officials are struggling with reactors damaged by an earthquake and tsunami.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission review is long enough that revisions can be made to reflect findings from the examination of failures at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Daiichi nuclear station, he said.

“If you look at the process in which the NRC approves going forward with construction projects and nuclear reactors, it’s a thoughtful process,” Chu told reporters today. “It’s a multiyear process and because of its very nature, I think these things can proceed.”

Lawmakers set aside plans today to review the Energy Department’s 2012 budget and focused on how U.S. nuclear reactors withstand what Chu referred to as the “double-barrel whammy” that crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and raised the threat of a catastrophic radiation leak.
“We need to take a hard look at any lessons learned from this tragedy that can further improve the safety of our reactors,” Chu said during the hearing.

U.S. power-plant developers are required by regulators to design plants that can survive worst-case scenarios, such as earthquakes and tsunamis, said Chu, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997....MORE
*From NewsWeek:
When Illinois utility Commonwealth Edison wanted state lawmakers to back a hefty rate hike two years ago, it took a creative lobbying approach, concocting a new outfit that seemed devoted to the public interest: Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity, or CORE. CORE ran TV ads warning of a "California-style energy crisis" if the rate increase wasn't approved—but without disclosing the commercials were funded by Commonwealth Edison. The ad campaign provoked a brief uproar when its ties to the utility, which is owned by Exelon Corp., became known. "It's corporate money trying to hoodwink the public," the state's Democratic Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn said. What got scant notice then—but may soon get more scrutiny—is that CORE was the brainchild of ASK Public Strategies, a consulting firm whose senior partner is David Axelrod, now chief strategist for Barack Obama....MORE
** From our June 2010 post "White House, Lieberman Considering Utility-Only Bill" (EXC; FE):
...From EXC's 2nd quarter ('09) slide-show (p.3):

Lowest carbon intensity in the sector - $1.1 billion(2) and growing annual upside to Exelon revenues from implementation of Waxman-Markey legislation

(2) Assumes $15/tonne carbon pricing.
From a letter to NRG shareholders during the takeover attempt:
We are offering you securities in a company… whose value rises rather than declines as carbon is priced into the marketplace…