For half the cost,

an energy efficiency program

can replace a 1000 MW nuclear power plant,

reducing utility bills for 1.6 million families

and creating 90 times more jobs

– that's 220,000 jobs

compared to nuclear's 2,400.


According to industry advocate the Nuclear Energy Institute, a nuclear power plant''s peak employment is 2,400 construction workers during the plant construction, leveling off to only 400 to 700 permanent employees.

Residents who have observed the nuclear power plant transition in their own communities say most of the employed were out-of-area construction workers who brought their family members with them, and the community was forced to build infrastructure to sustain the temporary work force. Residents also said the families of the construction workers competed for local jobs. (Read about one such community in Texas.)

Energy Efficiency can create 220,000 jobs to replace each of these new 1000 MW nuclear plants, and at half the cost, according to The Energy Collective and Energy Savvy. In the article, "A Ticking Atomic Clock: Nuclear Power vs. Efficient Homes", the industry-neutral group Energy Savvy crunches the numbers and addresses caveats and criticisms.

Retrofitting homes to be more energy efficient creates 90 times more local jobs than nuclear. According to Green Conduct, a Brookings Institute study released July 13, 2011, Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment, reports there are 2.7 million clean economy jobs in the United States, and that

"median wages in the clean economy

are 13 percent higher

than the median national wage,

despite the fact that

45 percent of clean economy workers

have a high school degree or less

(compared to 37 percent in the national economy)."

Brookings Institute says, "The clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole." And again, "a disproportionate percentage of jobs in the clean economy are staffed by workers with relatively little formal education in moderately well-paying 'green collar' occupations."

Another advantage to the job-creating benefits of energy efficiency programs is that they will improve the homes in the Tennessee Valley while they reduce utility bills. For only half the cost of building and operating a 1000 megawatt nuclear plant, 1.6 million homes can be retrofitted for efficiency.

"If you were a utility CEO ...

You would never do nuclear.

The economics are overwhelming."

Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric

London Financial Times, Nov. 18, 2007

TVA proposed 2 sets of different kinds of reactors at Bellefonte.

The TVA Board voted to pursue the 1968 design in 2011.


According to the GAO, Government Accountability Office, the average risk of default for taxpayer backed loans to the nuclear industry is 50% that is a 50 percent default risk for taxpayer money. The current appropriation of taxpayer funds is the 3rd bailout for the nuclear industry in the last 3 decades. Hundreds of billions of taxpayer and rate-payer dollars have already been spent to keep the nuclear industry afloat. Read the Union of Concerned Scientists March 4, 2009, "Nuclear Bailout Report":

The current bailout moving through Congress was recently analyzed by Peter Bradford (former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner and chair of the New York Utility Regulatory Commission, and current professor at the Vermont School of Law): "This quest for “dumb money” (public money put up with no expectation of any profit) now exceeds $100 billion, or $1,000 in risk exposure per American family." Read his article @

One nuclear reactor at Bellefonte is estimated to cost $7-12 billion dollars, with no estimate for the ongoing costs of securing storage and/or transport of the 20-30 tons of radioactive waste produced by each reactor every year it remains in operation – as John LaForge points out, radioactive trash presents "a bill that keeps coming for centuries". Taxpayer dollars will be backing loans for construction, and rate-payers will bear the ultimate burden of paying back those construction loans and of higher electricity rates.

Fortunately, Energy Efficiency can provide our additional power needs for the next two decades, while creating immediate jobs in the local construction sector. And smart technologies are developing at a rapid pace as prices plummet they already provide more cost-effective and environmentally safe Renewable Energy options for equal megawatts of electricity. Every dollar spent on nuclear power just takes money away from more cost-effective, less risky power generation that addresses global warming, like solar and wind (see Union of Concerned Scientists 2010 Nuclear Subsidies article).

Bellefonte is an example of poor planning and management by TVA. Construction began on the Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in the 1970s, with TVA spending some $4.2 billion dollars without producing one watt of electricity. Due to inaccurate projected energy needs and unsolved design and radioactive waste issues, the project was abandoned in 1988. The plant has been decaying since, and was finally cannibalized for salvageable equipment in 2006. Why would we throw good money after bad on decaying structures, and force future generations to pay for nuclear waste problems - the "bill that keeps coming for centuries"?

Valley residents cannot afford to invest in this expensive and dangerous source of electricity (studies on the cost of nuclear power can be found on this page). We live in the 21st century and residents are educated enough to know that Energy Efficiency is the most reasonable energy investment, and that Renewable Energy technologies today can provide America energy independence with more cost-effective, safe, and secure electricity resources that can be constructed more quickly bringing long-term prosperity to our valley starting now. Read our Clean Energy page.


The Bellefonte nuclear plant was stripped for salvage and has been decaying for 24 years. Why this sudden relapse into nuclear power? Since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, no new nuclear power plants have been approved in the USA because the nuclear waste and safety issues still remain unsolved and private funding sees nuclear as too risky. It would first appear that this sudden surge of interest in nuclear is due to the need for new jobs and the expediency of global warming, but a closer look reveals the interest is largely due to a nuclear industry lobbying campaign which began in 1999.

In fact, the nuclear power industry spent over $600 million lobbying Congress and nearly $63 million on campaign contributions in a decade-long influence campaign, according to a January 2010 analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the internationally respected American University in Washington, D.C.

If the nuclear industry cannot stand on its own, but requires subsidies and bailouts, then why would we as taxpayers and rate-payers want to invest in it? The problems that led to its downfall 30 years ago have not been solved. You can read the arguments of both sides, the Gen IV nuclear proponent James Hansen and sustainability innovator Amory Lovins, in this article by Sue Sturgis @

According to a nonpartisan study of 27 nuclear power plants and contractors, electricity bills will likely be 3 times higher until the nuclear construction debt is paid off, and then we will be paying twice as much for electricity for the remaining lifetime of the plant. (see article, "How Much Will New Nuclear Power Plants Cost?", or excerpts below). Why should valley residents be forced to double our electric rates to pay for outdated, expensive and dangerous energy?

TVA can create more permanent jobs, more quickly, with Efficiency Programs and Renewable Energy technologies. Germany produces 7.4 times more solar electricity per year than the U.S., with far less land and a cloudy northern location. Bellefonte could become a solar power plant, producing the equivalent amount of electricity for less money than a nuclear power plant. TVA can invest in a healthy and economically sustainable future for our valley, but we need to remind TVA that they are here for the Tennessee Valley residents, not for the nuclear power contractors.

Every dollar spent on the financial behemoth of nuclear

takes money away from developing renewable energy

with its higher employment potential

and no nuclear security or toxic waste risks.

An April 26, 2011 report, S&P waves red flag over TVA's debt, alerted us that "the S&P downgraded TVA’s [financial] outlook from “stable” to “negative” the worst rating for TVA debt in two decades."

An August 12, 2011 article by Chattanooga reporter Dave Flessner, TVA loses $240 million in fiscal third quarter: Board to consider rate hike, shows us how unreliable nuclear power can be, with the Browns Ferry tornado blackouts costing some $95 million of the $139 million total equipment and power generation losses from the April 27, 2011 tornados. The article also noted a legal settlement with the EPA and 4 states, resulting in the shutdown of many coal plants, and the installation of multi-billion-dollar pollution control equipment which "will prevent about 1,200 to 3,000 premature deaths, 2,000 heart attacks and 21,000 cases of asthma attacks each year, with up to $27 billion in annual health benefits."

A Pam Sohn April 15, 2011 report, TVA, EPA, states settle, says "In the settlement, TVA agreed to idle retire 18 older coal-fired power-generations units at three plants", to spend $3-5 billion on pollution controls for the remaining coal plants, and to spend $350 million on "environmental improvement"" projects in the next five years.

Many of us also recall the 50% power shutdowns in 2010 because of the rivers intake water rising to 90⁰ temperatures, which cost TVA over $50 million. Again in August, 2011, according to Tennessean reporter Anne Paine'', TVA cuts power at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant because of warmer river, the same problem has happened, with the costs as yet unknown, and the TVA is building a cooling tower there for another $80 million to "substantially reduce if not eliminate" recurrence of the problem according to TVA spokesman, Ray Golden.



Nuclear reactors are not only expensive, the financial risks are extremely high. Private financial institutions won''t invest in these risky radiation-producing power plants and insurance companies won't provide coverage. Nuclear contractors have spent hundreds of millions lobbying Congress because the industry is too risky to stand on its own and must rely on U.S. taxpayers to stay afloat. If there is an accident (see Emergency Events Report on the DANGER page), taxpayers and individual business and homeowners will pay the cost of damages.

Thanks to the Anderson-Price Act, your insurance policies do not cover nuclear power accidents and Congress has given the industry a limited liability shelter. Nuclear contractors pool funds to deal with an immediate crisis, but it is not enough to cover projected losses. Imagine the costs if we had granted this kind of fail-safe immunity to the oil industry before the BP spill in the Gulf. Now, imagine the cost to you, if your precious family and your home and all its contents, as well as your land and water become contaminated with radioactive poisons. You would likely be forced to evacuate with no insurance coverage.

Taxpayers are expected to pay for the transport and storage of massive quantities of radioactive waste; and incredibly, a number of nuclear energy companies have actually sued the federal government for failing to open the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste storage site. At present there is no national storage facility, so nuclear power plant wastes (20-30 metric tons of radioactive waste per year/per reactor) are stored on-site at each plant, a toxic waste expense that could last 100,000 years. All nuclear reactors are powered by the fission of uranium-235, but only 1% of the energy is recovered; the rest becomes dangerous radioactive waste.

Why should Tennessee Valley residents be asked to shoulder the burden of living with the financial and health risks of nuclear power? Nuclear waste remains dangerous for 100,000 years, leaving countless generations the responsibility of securing the radioactive waste we are leaving behind for a temporary and unnecessary source of electricity in our valley. Nuclear waste sends "a bill that keeps coming for centuries."

We can produce all the electricity we need

using Energy Efficiency and Renewables

which are cheaper, faster to come online,

and produce no toxic wastes.


In his paper "Some Facts About Nuclear, Solar and Wind Power", E.A. Keller, Professor of Geology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, illuminates the unreasonable expectations for nuclear energy:

"Today there are 104 commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S. These produce about 20 percent of our electricity. About 440 nuclear power plants supply about 16% of the world's electricity. All these plants use uranium 235, which makes up only 0.7% of natural uranium. In a U-235 power plant, only 1% of the energy is recovered; the rest is nuclear (radioactive) waste."

If this were not a strong enough case in itself, Keller goes on to say that if we built enough nuclear power plants to, "provide about 40% of the present use of fossil fuels, all known uranium deposits would be mined and used in about 30 years."

According to Sovacool''s 2008 emissions article, early uranium deposits had concentrations as high as 10%, but now the "majority of the usable ''''soft' ore found in sandstone has a concentration between 0.2% and 0.01%, and ''''hard' ore found in granite has a lower uranium content, usually about 0.02% or less." Not only are supplies rapidly diminishing, the fuel process is creating an ever larger carbon footprint and leaving behind more and more radioactive waste. Sovacool goes on to say, "In the cases where ores have a concentration of 0.1%, the milling must grind 1000 tons of rock to extract 1 ton of yellowcake. Both the oxide and the tailing (the 999 tons of remaining rock) remain radioactive, requiring treatment. Acids must be neutralized with limestone, and made insoluble with phosphates (Fleming, 2007; Heaberlin, 2003)." He later says, "To supply enough enriched fuel for a standard 1000 MW reactor for 1 year, about 200 tons of natural uranium has to be processed (Fleming, 2007)."

Valuing the greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power: A critical survey

Benjamin K. Sovacool

Economically, as uranium supplies diminish, the price rises; and, as witnessed by the results of diminishing oil supplies, we run the very costly risk of participating in resource wars in other parts of the world. This is not just bad business with unreasonable costs and diminishing returns, it is dangerous business for our country.

In conclusion, we repeat a quote from the article below, "Nuclear Power Too Expensive, Too Dangerous": quoting: " Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, one of the world’s richest nuclear engineering firms, [who] discouraged new reactor construction because of financial liabilities. In the Nov. 18, 2007, London Financial Times, Immelt said,

"If you were a utility CEO ...

You would never do nuclear.

The economics are overwhelming."

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technologies are now proven to be more cost-effective than nuclear power. In fact, as the former Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors, S. David Freeman says in his 2007 book, Winning Our Energy Independence: An Energy Insider Shows How, "We have all the renewable energy we need to wean ourselves from the three poisons [coal, oil and nuclear]." Fortunately, Wind Power and both Photovoltaic (PV) and Thermal Solar technologies have progressed rapidly and are now cost-effective sources of electrical power. Read our Clean Energy page.

TVA ratepayers should not be saddled with the retrograde decisions made by ''TVA executives who have been courted by the French government's nuclear industry. Call your Senators and demand they not invest any more American money in nuclear power.

Contact your U.S. Senators - addresses and phone numbers


Commentary by John LaForge

Duluth News Tribune, Monday, Jan. 11, 2010

Lofty claims about the benefits of nuclear power have been coming from the Nuclear Energy Institute’s lobbyists and others. Yet news journals, financial journals and energy journals all make clear that boiling water with uranium is the costliest and dirtiest energy choice.

Even Time magazine reported, on Dec. 31, 2008, that, “New [reactors] would be not just extremely expensive but spectacularly expensive.”

...No less than Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, one of the world’s richest nuclear engineering firms, discouraged new reactor construction because of financial liabilities. In the Nov. 18, 2007, London Financial Times, Immelt said, “If you were a utility CEO and looked at your world today, you would just do gas and wind. You would say [they are] easier to site, digestible [and] I don’t have to bet my company on any of this stuff. You would never do nuclear. The economics are overwhelming.”

…The estimates never even include the cost of managing radioactive waste, a bill that keeps coming for centuries.

Nuclear is so dirty Germany legislated a national phase-out of its 17 reactors by 2025. That 1998 decision was based partly on government studies that found high rates of childhood leukemia in areas near German reactors. In July 2007 the European Journal of Cancer Care published a similar report by Dr. Peter Baker of the Medical University of South Carolina that found elevated leukemia incidence in children near U.S. reactors.

U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., complained to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2005: “The nuclear industry and the NRC have automatically dismissed all studies that link increased cancer risk to exposure to low levels of radiation. The NRC needs to study — not summarily dismiss — the connection between serious health risks and radiation released from nuclear reactors.”

The Oxford Research Group’s 2007 study, “Too Hot to Handle,” called the hope of quickly building new reactors a “pipe dream.” In his 2008 book, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy, Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, said, “Even the leaders of the nuclear industry have said that they will not build new plants without 100 percent federal loan guarantees.

The U.S. Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism has called for ending subsidies that would expand nuclear power. In its Oct. 21 report, “The Clock Is Ticking,” the commission recommended that the “U.S. … work internationally toward strengthening the non-proliferation regime ... discouraging, to the extent possible, the use of financial incentives in the promotion of civil nuclear power.”

Nuclear power’s pollution burden already is carried by the public. This is bailout enough. The industry should not also be allowed to unload on us its overwhelming financial risks.

-- John LaForge of Luck, Wis., is a staff member for the independent action group Nukewatch and edits its quarterly newsletter.

"How Much Will New Nuclear Power Plants Cost?"


by Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool, Nov. 2, 2008

...The nuclear industry generally reports construction costs of about $2,000 per installed kilowatt (kW).

... A collection of new studies, however, suggest that these figures may underestimate the cost of building new nuclear units by more than a factor of 3.

Researchers from the Keystone Center, a nonpartisan think tank, consulted with 27 nuclear power companies and contractors, and concluded in June 2007 that the cost for building new reactors would be between $3,600 and $4,000 per installed kW (with interest).

They also projected that the operating costs for these plants would be remarkably expensive: 30 ¢/kWh for the first 13 years until construction costs are paid followed by 18 ¢/kWh over the remaining lifetime of the plant. (For comparison, the average residential price for electricity was about 10 ¢/kWh last year).

Just a few months later, in October 2007, Moody’s Investor Service projected even higher costs due to the quickly escalating price of metals, forgings, other materials, and labor needed to construct reactors. They estimated total costs for new plants, including interest, at between $5,000 and $6,000 per installed kW....

Remember, too, that these costs do not include the expense of storing nuclear waste. In August 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy offered an updated estimate of the cost for building and operating Yucca Mountain, the planned centralized repository being erected in Nevada. The DOE noted that the expected costs for Yucca Mountain jumped from $57.5 in 2001 billion to $96.2 billion today, and this latter figure only covers the costs of building the facility and transporting waste until 2133.

Furthermore, researchers at Georgetown University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory assessed financial risks for advanced nuclear power plants utilizing a three-decade historical database of delivered costs from each of 99 conventional nuclear reactors operating in the U.S. The study pointed out two unique features of advanced nuclear power plants that make them prone to unexpected increases in cost: (a) their dependence on operational learning, a feature not well suited to rapidly changing technology and market environments subject to local variability in supplies, labor, technology, public opinion, and the risks of capital cost escalation; and (b) difficulty in standardizing new nuclear units, or the idiosyncratic problems of relying on large generators whose specific site requirements do not allow for mass production.

... The Congressional Budget Office reported in May 2008 that the actual costs of building 75 of the existing nuclear power plants in the U.S. exceeded industry quoted estimated by more than 300 percent. The industry, in other words, reported average construction costs for these plants at $45.2 billion (in 1990 dollars) but the facilities ended up costing $144.6 billion (in 1990 dollars). This increased their construction costs from $938 per installed kW to $2,959 per installed kW. ...

For further reading:

Pam Radtke Russell, “Prices Are Rising: Nuclear Cost Estimates Under Pressure,” EnergyBiz Insider (May-June, 2008), available at

The Keystone Center, Nuclear Power Joint Fact-Finding (July, 2007), available at

Nathan E. Hultman, Jonathan G. Koomey, Daniel M. Kammen, “What History Can Teach Us About the Future Costs of U.S. Nuclear Power,” Environmental Science & Technology (April 1, 2007), pp. 2088-2099, available at

“Nuclear Waste: Distant and Expensive Mirage,” Electricity Journal 21(7) (August/September, 2008), pp. 23-24, available at

Congressional Budget Office, Nuclear Power’s Role in Generating Electricity (Washington, DC: CBO, May, 2008), available at


Contact Your Elected Representatives

Sign a Letter to the NRC

Sign a Letter to TVA

Join BEST /MATRR - Because It Matters

Print our 'check'' voucher and send it in with your electric bill payment.

Support Green Legislation in Your State.

Send a link to your friends

so they can learn about energy at

Bellefonte Efficiency & Sustainability Team


Mothers Against Tennessee River Radiation


Because It Matters

Copyright © 2010-2013 BEST/MATRR

You are encouraged to copy our written material,

but please credit all referenced sources.

All rights reserved.

No posts.
No posts.