Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Can Google or Microsoft Save The Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant?

Topic; Kewaunee Nuke Plant and why a tech company like Google, Amazon, or even Berkshire could be the buyer it needs.

The decision to close a perfectly good Nuclear Plant - Really? Let’s think about this.
    • Jobs - the loss of 700 to 1100 high paying jobs in a state that desperately needs them. Wisconsin Governor where are you?
    • With North American population projected to increase by over 100 million by 2050 I’m pretty sure we’ll need more power plants, not less. (Tech companies use a massive amount.)
    • It’s reported that it’s takes 7-9 years just to get a permit to build one of these things and costs range from from $3 - $9 billion. And this one is good to go and has a license that is good for another 20 years. Surely a buyer is out there. (See below).
    • Let’s get off this dinosaur train of thinking and do some real planning for the future. Think ‘uncubed’ as we like to say.
Plant Buyers - Possible buyers and why? Let’s exhaust every option. A few ideas on top of my mind. Possible motivated companies with the financial means to take over the current and future responsibility of owning one of these things. (Federal law states that something like $400 million has to be set aside for future decommissioning - hopefully long into the future.)
  • Tech companies. They use a massive amount of power and are now placing server farms (data centers) near new power plants. Some are investing in clean energy. One in particular has a stated goal of reducing its carbon footprint to zero.
  • Server Farms drive this idea.  Also known as Data Centers serve up your information on the internet and they use a massive amount of power. - And they are a hot growth industry.

  • Global Internet Traffic Projected to Quadruple by 2015 See Cisco

  • $1.5 Billion dollar project looking for a home. The race for data centers is a nationwide phenomenon, but perhaps nowhere has the contest for facilities been as fierce as in the heartland, where states are eager to lure tech, both to modernize their economies and shed their ag-state images.1
  • Council Bluffs got Google, which opened Iowa's first big brand-name data center, a 57-acre, $600 million investment, in 2009. He acknowledges he did nothing special. The company liked the city's geography, the proximity it offered to a new coal power plant, and those incentives, which were first crafted for Google's sake -- at the time, it was not known the company was Google -- and rushed through the Iowa legislature in 2007. Council Bluffs ranks as the least expensive place to operate a data center in an index of 39 cities, calculated by the Boyd Company.1
  • A New Industry in the Arctic: Server Farms Facebook’s investment will be a boon to LuleĆ„’s economy, and server farms could be a new source of economic growth throughout the rest of the circumpolar north.2
    • Google. Google has, and is building server farms (data centers) across the globe. Google as a company currently uses a massive amount of power. Clean power.
      • Estimates my team came up with suggest these use what would be about  ½ the power output of the Kewaunee Plant. One scenario - They could take it private and build many of their future data centers right in Kewaunee County, WI. Saving one industry giant and spurring the growth of another.
      • Google has a investment entities that are involved in various related efforts. Google has invested about $178 million in one of the worlds largest solar farms now being built.
      • Tech Crunch (Technology Blog) has reported that google already has a investment in Nuclear efforts.
      • Google resources. GooG has approx. $48 billion on hand in cash and short term securities for strategic opportunities
    • Microsoft.
      • Microsoft another tech company with massive resources and massive power use has a stated goal of having zero carbon footprint.
      • Microsoft too has massive server farms (data centers). One server farm building thats serves up data for the Bing search engine has 48 diesel generators around it to power it when the grid goes down. That is one building and Bing has only about 6% of search.
      • Bill Gates too has invested in Nuclear power and has a investment to build modern nuclear in China. Terra Power
      • Microsoft building a poop powered data center.
      • At Microsoft, we (they) believe that we have a responsibility to minimize our impact on the environment, and so we have made a commitment to become carbon neutral beginning in our fiscal year (FY) 20132 for our data centers, software development labs, offices, and employee air travel. Powering the future.
      • MSFT - Microsoft has resources. It has about $64 billion on hand in cash and short term securities for strategic opportunities.
    • Apple
    • Amazon
Amazon has some of the biggest and the most servers farms of all. They are growing their data Amazon Web Services amazingly fast.They also have massive resources.

    • Others Companies that already own Nuclear Power Plants. Maybe one takes the long term view.
    • The City of Chicago. They are very much interested in cleantech and not that far from Kewaunee. And they need lots of power.
    • The Federal Government buys it on the cheap. Turns it over to the citizens of Northeast Wisconsin. There are loaning money for nuclear construction.

Plant Stays Open.
    • A clean source of massive power- generation remains.
    • Many, many great jobs, careers really remain in area.
    • Economic activity that this employment affords will continue.
    • Risk profile stays the same. Plant has been here for 35 years already.
    • WPS embraces that they are truly a ‘Public Service” (Defn. a service rendered in the public interest) not buying local power losing this many jobs - hardly a ‘public service’. Maybe they (WPS) should lower their internal cost structure.

Plant Closes.
      • This will create a very painful economic vacuum in the region. A big negative economic multiplier. Check out the studies.
      • Regret - when natural gases prices spike in the future, Dominion Inc. will say, dang, we shouldn't have closed that one.
      • Risk. The area will have all of the risk of the plant and none of the upside (see above). This would really suck.
      • The carbon has already ready be created/released during this massive construction now close it and have to build a ‘new’ one in 10 years somewhere else. Very stupid. I have two young daughters who future will be determined by doing things smarter.

    I’m guessing that somewhere in this big world a buyer exists. As this move if it happens will be devastating to our area - Maybe the Feds/State/Courts should apply an injunction and put this action on hold until all avenues are exhausted.  Thanks, Perry

         1 American Plains A War For Server Farms  From Fortune.
    2 A New Industry in the Arctic: Server Farms
    Anything is possible...

    Contacts; Expert on this issue.
    Richard C. Nelson  Owner/Engineer  RNR Services, LLC
    rnr_llc@itol.com   920.255.2926
    Post From;

    Contact Info:
        Perry Andropolis
    Uncubed StudiosSM


    1. This issue - the in action by the powers that be are stunning. I had heard about this issue a while ago a I surely thought commonsense would prevail - the plant would have a new buyer (it is a licensed (for 20 more years nuke plant) would be in place - but no my bad. Our Wisconsin Governor is not even involved. Stunning. Energy security is a National Security issue I thought. Last time I checked anyway...Anyway after dealing with my father illness and death over the last 3 months I was a bit distracted but to see that this power plant is scheduled to close May 7, 2013 - is beyond stupid.

    2. A grassroots group from the area around the Kewaunee Power Plant had a meeting Wed.
      Seemed everyone gathered to commiserate. The regions state rep. said maybe we can save the next one. When I went to talk to him about my idea his eyes seemed to glass over. What they are putting out is that natural gas prices are so low that can't sell the power (thanks to fracking) No rep. and no help from Walkers office. 5-6 billion to build a new one and this one has 20 left on its lic.
      I just had to stick my nose into this issue.
      More soon.

    3. We (most- ok some) are concerned about the carbon emissions from one plane flight and they Dominion Resources and our Wisconsin Governor and I hate to say our administration are going to write off this massive construction project and all the carbon it's construction caused to be released (it's clean now). Ideally we should figure out a way to use these power plants indefinitely to truly get to zero emissions (every new construction project released massive amount of carbon). So I took it upon my self to began to contact possible buyers as mentioned above last week. Berkshire & Microsoft for example. So we'll see if what happens...

    4. I was asked why the interest and how come I'm aware of the server farm 'industry'.
      When I went to expand on my efforts for Door County related awareness project conceived in 2007 - we decided it would be digital. We have contracted with a leading data center and our magazine a related digital efforts (seen in something like 500 cities around the country and the world so far in beta) are housed in at least two of these massive data farms around the country and it would be in alignment with my personal commitment if these data farms were powered with clean energy.

    5. Nuclear energy isn't exactly "clean", Perry - what about the used radioactive fuel rods.....

      And just look at what is STILL going on over in Japan with at least one facility impacted by that earthquake......

      1. Agreed. But in this case the risk has already been accepted so open or closed the risk remains (waste stays on site). Might as keep the the upside. Look at totality of the issues attached to traditional power and there is no comparison. Bring on the sun...