Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

QC needs nuclear power

In 2017 and 2018, two nuclear power plants will close in Illinois. One, the Clinton power plant near Champaign, Illinois, and the other in Cordova, Illinois, which services the Quad Cities area.
To some, this is barely news. A boring story about something that people don’t care about.
Anyone interested in the well being of their state and the environment, however, should consider paying attention. When these plants close, people will notice the damage.
To start, many environmentally-minded people consider this to be a step in the right direction, ready to make more strides towards renewable energy sources.
What they haven’t considered is that nuclear power is actually safer and cleaner than any other energy source that can compete with natural gas and coal. Chernobyl, and other events like it, are not going to happen. The engineering and regulation of these plants means that no matter what happens, the plant will not let itself “meltdown”.
No other renewable sources in Illinois can replace these plants after they close, either. Nuclear power produces over 94 million MWh (megawatt hour), releasing only water vapor into the atmosphere, with a manageable waste product. Coal power, possibly the filthiest way to produce power, produces 91 million MWh. Renewable sources, including hydro power, produces a measly 3.6 million MWh.
This means that every closed nuclear plant, which causes nearly no damage to our environment, doesn’t get replaced by renewables. All of that power will be generate by coal or natural gas, shooting ourselves in the foot, rather than our target of zero-emission energy production.
If you don’t care about the economic costs, you may be pleased, because your tax money will no longer be paying to run power plants which have been losing money to operate. You’d be short-sighted think that, though.
Firstly, between Rock Island and Champaign, these plants employ over 4 thousand workers directly and indirectly. When their jobs end, they will leave and take their money with them.
Then, the price of energy will rise. Along with the higher price of energy, the damage of heightened carbon emissions will likely amount to  around $10 billion in the next 10 years. So, if you care about both money and the environment, you lose on both ends.
The issue is that, because both plants are constantly losing money, Exelon has no interest in keeping them open. Between the two plants, they are losing around $800 million dollars, which is enormous even if you consider that they have made over $2.5 billion in profits. While they struggle, renewable energy has been subsidized, regardless of their lack of profit.
The fact is, while I agree that it’s hard to think about subsidizing a company that has enormous profits, they are not a charity. Illinois needs these plants, and Exelon does not. While we transition to renewable energy, we need a reliable source of energy that doesn’t turn our air and water toxic.
The Illinois state government rejecting to give any money to these plants, which Exelon has kept open regardless of being a money blender, is simply being short sighted.
Losing these plants, which don’t poison our air and water, leaves coal and natural gas without competition. By giving subsidiaries to renewable energy sources, and no consideration towards nuclear energy,  Illinois lawmakers may actually be creating more carbon emissions than before.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Augustana Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
QC needs nuclear power