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Your Opinion: Energy policy called socialism at its finest

Your Opinion: Energy policy called socialism at its finest

January 26th, 2011 by Tony Smith, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

Like you, I wish there was a magic bullet or that the tooth fairy existed. Now a fable is being resurrected concerning a cheap energy future and lots of good paying jobs in Central Missouri if only we will pay for another Callaway nuclear plant. Never mind that construction will not start for years or not at all. Completion would be 10 years away.

America's energy policy is socialism at its finest. Privatize the gains and socialize the costs and risks. We just had a banking meltdown which operated the same way at our cost. Some of you are concerned that a Chevy Volt is selling for $41,000 and that the federal government is subsidizing it with a $7,500 tax break. What if Volt's tax breaks were $50,000? Then you would be entering the realm of government nuclear subsidies. The federal government has a history of subsidizing nuclear energy beyond it true costs.

There was such a period in the 1970s and 1980s. Forbes magazine noted in 1985 that this seduced the energy industry into a binge of power plant building which it called "the largest managerial disaster in business history." There were three-fold cost overruns costing hundreds of billions. There were 253 reactors ordered. Only 104 survive. Forty percent of those have failed for a year or more.

Ameren said a new plant would cost $6 billion. $10 billion is more like it. A recent proposed project in Maryland was abandoned at a projected price of $18 billion. Many states allow nuclear projects only if taxpayers will assure the project. That is where we are in the nuclear process in Missouri. Missouri bureaucrats are proposing a deal that can only work if taxpayers are on the hook for the upfront costs. This violates the principal that utilities will charge us for services rendered.

Missouri energy costs are low because of coal. Coal is a significant danger to the environment.

Nowhere in the world is nuclear being constructed unless the money is extracted from the public. Bureaucrats who claim that taxing you is a moral sin will take your money to build nuclear plants. If these new reactors can produce competitive energy, they do not need subsidies. If not, they do not deserve them. Nuclear is clean energy but there is a reason a U.S. nuclear plant has not been built in 25 years. It is very expensive energy.