This is my public comment made 7/6/11 to the GA. Public Service Commission on the occasion of their consideration of Georgia Power’s request for yet another raid on the public treasury in the form of rate hikes to cover anticipated cost over-runs for their nuclear fantasies. They already were granted rate hikes to cover building the new reactors and an additional amount to cover the loss in credit ratings due to pursuing dangerous nuclear technology. You have to hand it to them, they’ve got gall.
Mulling over what to say for this meeting it occurred to me that the creators of this Commission did not choose GPC – Georgia Power Commission. Words have meaning so I was happy to notice what PSC stands for until I remembered George Orwell and how political bodies sometimes engage a practice that has come to be dubbed Orwellian.
Barbara Tuchman, in her book The March of Folly, defines folly as acting against one’s own self-interest. The business and government officials who decided to build sixty nuclear plants on an earth-quake fault don’t necessarily fit the definition. By now those leaders are probably living on nice pensions far from Fukushima so their personal interests could be said to have been served. But I think we would have to conclude that Orwell had been at work, that Public Service was really not what they were about.
Which brings me to argue that the public is not served by granting profit-seeking companies pickpocket access to the public treasury. It is even less served when those companies pursue the folly of dangerous nuclear power. I hope it doesn’t require any more Fukushimas for us to realize that when the nuclear industry chants its mantra of “safe and clean” it is committing high Orwellian-speak. Nuclear technology is expensive, risky, cumbersome, polluting and yes, dangerous. It is time to give serious consideration to NOT dangerous alternatives, which are showing themselves more competitive and benign with each passing year. I speak of Solar, Wind and Conservation.
In this new climate – I would say post-Fukushima but that disaster still bubbles ominously to our west – I refer you to the website of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, IEER.org where you can download their Roadmap for a U.S. Energy Future, a roadmap that persuasively excludes coal and nuclear, both proven truly dangerous to the health of life on this planet. When you enable an alcoholic you do neither the addict nor the public a service.
As a post script I would like to add that Germany, Switzerland and Italy have all recently made the sensible commitment to eliminating nuclear power, turning to alternatives, in which they already are far ahead of the U.S. And as we speak two nuclear reactors in Nebraska are threatened by flooding, a not unpredictable event given that reactors must be located near and are dependent on large volumes of water.