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A newly formed nuclear energy company controlled by billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is considering building a nuclear power plant in northern Payette County.
MidAmerican Nuclear Energy Co., a subsidiary of the Des Moines, Iowa-based MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., has been doing geologic testing on about 3,300 acres of private land south of Paddock Valley Reservoir.


http://www.idahostatesman.com/business/story/228392.html
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makes a lot of sense. after fear, cost of construction is the second biggest obstacle to highly needed nuclear energy. money and energy expertise are two things that brk has.

between trains and nukes it seems to me that Warren believes in peak oil. it would be a good AM question.
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makes a lot of sense. after fear, cost of construction is the second biggest obstacle to highly needed nuclear energy.

It makes no sense to me. The biggest cost to these plants is the cost of nuclear waste disposal, and the government and the industry have been applying the ostrich method to solving it. Denial will not solve it, and it is impossible for a power plant to make enough profit to pay for hundreds of thousands of years of guarding and maintaining disposal sites.

Then there is the insurance. The Price Anderson act hides the insurance cost. It was passed because otherwise private investors would not invest in nuclear power because of the very real liability risk in building these things. This is another case of giving the profits of an enterprise to private investors and making the public liable for the risks.

As far as highly-needed is concerned, I disagree with that too. We may well need more energy if we do not control our waste of what we have already. But it does not need to be nuclear.
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http://library.thinkquest.org/3471/nuclear_waste_body.html
contains a non-political primer on nucler waste disposal.
I agree with you Jean David, the risks are too far into the future for us to truly be able to comprehend the hazzards that we may be creating today with our present radioactive waste storage methods, however, if we keep having to go to war for our oil, that is also a bloody price to pay for our energy needs? Unfortunately, wind and solar are just not commercially viable yet. I have heard that large woodchip burning facilities are providing energy to some Swedish towns so alternatives to nuclear will eventually come along. I would assume that Berkshire already insures nuclear power plants now, do we? If so, Berkshire is already assuming the risks that nuclear energy poses so we might as well make some of the profits too.
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I agree with you Jean David, the risks are too far into the future for us to truly be able to comprehend the hazzards that we may be creating today with our present radioactive waste storage methods, however, if we keep having to go to war for our oil, that is also a bloody price to pay for our energy needs? Unfortunately, wind and solar are just not commercially viable yet.

The U.S. Government makes huge subsidies to the oil and nuclear industry. Consider the costs of our middle-east wars. They amount to $1,000,000 per minute subsidy the the oil industry. If we ended that we would save about 1/2 trillion dollars a year. These subsidies make wind, solar, low head hydroelectricity, burning methane from land fills (methane is a worse global warming gas than carbon dioxide), and conservation, non-competitive. If the government is unwilling to give up its imperialist wars, they should, in the interest of fairness, give 1/2 trillion dollars a year subsidy to alternative energy and conservation. Fat chance! 8-(

I would assume that Berkshire already insures nuclear power plants now, do we?

I do not think so. The Price Anderson Act requires nuclear plants to get as much insurance as they can get in the private market. This is about $300 million per plant. In a melt-down situation, that might not even cover damage to the plant, so there is really no coverage for the surrounding planet. So maybe Berkshire writes those $300 million policies, but I am sure they do not write more than that. Now in the case of the proposed MidAmerican nuclear plant, they may self-insure, but I hope not.

If so, Berkshire is already assuming the risks that nuclear energy poses so we might as well make some of the profits too.

No, the taxpayers are assuming the risks that nuclear energy poses, and the private corporations are taking the profits. As I think I said before, this is a moral error.
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between trains and nukes it seems to me that Warren believes in peak oil.

He also doesn't seem to be much of a believer in renewable energy and environmental issues. MEC seems to be focusing primarily on coal and nuclear energy, which is very unpopular these days.
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>> He also doesn't seem to be much of a believer in renewable energy and environmental issues. MEC seems to be focusing primarily on coal and nuclear energy, which is very unpopular these days. <<

WEB is usually cautious when it comes to investing in new and unproven industries. Remember all those people complaining eight years ago about him not buying tech?

And I don't know that it's so much that he *personally* doesn't believe in the push to renewables, but more that he's looking at the best values in businesses that he can understand.


#29
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JeanDavid wrote:
The Price Anderson Act requires nuclear plants to get as much insurance as they can get in the private market. This is about $300 million per plant. In a melt-down situation, that might not even cover damage to the plant, so there is really no coverage for the surrounding planet. So maybe Berkshire writes those $300 million policies, but I am sure they do not write more than that. Now in the case of the proposed MidAmerican nuclear plant, they may self-insure, but I hope not.
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I don't think you understand how the whole Price-Anderson insurance system works. Here is a description from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/funds-fs.html

Under existing policy, utilities that operate nuclear power plants pay a premium each year for $300 million in private insurance for offsite liability coverage for each reactor unit. This primary insurance is supplemented by a second policy. In the event a nuclear accident causes damages in excess of $300 million, each licensed nuclear reactor would be assessed a prorated share of the excess up to $95.8 million. With 104 plants licensed to operate, this secondary pool contains about $8.6 billion. After 15 percent of this pool is expended, prioritization of the remaining funds is left to the discretion of local jurisdictions. After the insurance pool is used, responding organizations like State and local governments can petition Congress for additional disaster relief under the provisions of Price-Anderson.

One insurance pool, American Nuclear Insurers, is comprised of investor-owned stock insurance companies. About half the pool's total liability capacity comes from foreign sources like Lloyd's of London. The average annual premium for a single-unit reactor site is $400,000. The premium for a second or third reactor at the same site is discounted to reflect a sharing of limits.

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More information about the nuclear power insurance structure here:
http://www.nei.org/filefolder/price-anderson_0707.pdf

This whole insurance issue is a red herring anyway, in my opinion. Experiences such as Hurricane Katrina show that whenever anything goes wrong that effects more than a handful of people, the government usually ends up being responsible, regardless of what kind of private insurance was in place beforehand.


-waterfell
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I thought additional nuclear capacity would be at plants that have a permit already, but didn't build i.e. Duke or Va Power.

But considering a greenfield nuclear plant is more problematic, large construction bill, long lead time for all the political processes to get done. Maybe in Idaho they're conservative enough to glow with pride. Nice trial balloon without committing any dollars.
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JeanDavid wrote:
The Price Anderson Act requires nuclear plants to get as much insurance as they can get in the private market. This is about $300 million per plant. In a melt-down situation, that might not even cover damage to the plant, so there is really no coverage for the surrounding planet. So maybe Berkshire writes those $300 million policies, but I am sure they do not write more than that. Now in the case of the proposed MidAmerican nuclear plant, they may self-insure, but I hope not.
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waterfell wrote: I don't think you understand how the whole Price-Anderson insurance system works. Here is a description from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


I don't mean to sound unfriendly, but ... when it comes to nuclear power, I don't believe Mr. David is interested in facts.
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