Saturday, March 19, 2011

FCC Approves Qwest/CenturyLink Merger - 2011-03-18 18:40:09 | Broadcasting & Cable

The FCC has approved the merger of broadband providers CenturyLink and Qwest, subject to various conditions including major broadband adoption and deployment programs.

Among the promises are low-cost broadband for low-income homes, digital literacy and training, boosting network capacity to actual - rather than advertised - speeds of 4 mbps to at least 4 million homes and 20,000 anchor institutions. The company also agreed to forego some Universal Service funds designed for smaller companies.

Scares at S.C. plants worry nuclear watchdog | The Post and Courier, Charleston SC - News, Sports, Entertainment


Utility officials didn't dispute the problems but stressed the overall safety of their operations

"We have the highest safety standards for our nuclear plants and our employees, and we work continuously to improve safety. We have taken specific actions to address each of the events last year that led to special inspections," said Mike Hughes, Progress Energy media relations director.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Report: SC among nation’s most at-risk sites for nuclear catastrophe : News :

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- As radiation continues to leak in Japan following explosions and fires at several tsunami-devastated reactors, data from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission shows several nuclear facilities in South Carolina are among the nation's most at risk for earthquake damage.
South Carolina has four operational nuclear power plants, and a majority of the state's population lives within 50 miles of a nuclear facility.
An Upstate nuclear plant in Seneca operated by Charlotte-based Duke Energy ranks as the nation's 8th most at-risk facility out of 104 U.S. nuclear sites, according to the NRC. SCANA's V.C. Summer nuclear facility in Jenkinsville is ranked 18th on the list. The NRC risk estimates are based on 2008 and 1989 geological data. 
According to the NRC risk data, the Seneca reactor site has a roughly one in 23,000 chance of damage during an earthquake that could potentially exposing the public to radiation. The Jenkinsville facility has a roughly one in 26,000 risk of damage. 

AT&T Cracking Down on MyWi Tethering?

"We've gotten a couple of tips today from users saying that they are receiving notices from AT&T regarding tethering. These users have been using MyWi for tethering, and are grandfathered into AT&T's old unlimited iPhone data plan."

For one user, the notices began as a simple text message:
"AT&T Free Msg: Did you know tethering your Smartphone to a computer requires a tethering plan? Pls call 888-860-6789 for details or visit"

Graham: I have faith in nuclear power - WIS News 10 - Columbia, South Carolina |

The Republican from Seneca said in a conference call Thursday from Washington he has confidence in America's nuclear power industry, which he said uses a different plant design than Japan.

Power company officials say nuclear plants along Japan's coast survived the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11 and shut down properly. Trouble came when the subsequent surge of seawater swamped diesel generators powering the backup cooling system.

The senator says he lives five miles from Duke Energy's Oconee Nuclear Station and has no worries about its safety.

Progress Energy sought buyers before Duke | Charlotte Business Journal

John Downey

Duke announced plans Jan. 10 to buy Progress for $13.7 billion. But Progress' first merger discussions were with Dominion Resources, a Virginia-based utility, in June 2009, according to a filing Duke made Thursday afternoon with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dominion would later seek to buy both Duke and Progress after the Duke-Progress deal was announced. Although Dominion is not named in the filing, the description of events makes it clear it was the first potential partner for Progress.

Frantic Repairs Go On at Japanese Nuclear Plant but Little Progress in Cooling Fuel -

As the crisis seemed to deepen, Japan’s nuclear safety agency raised the assessment of its severity from 4 to 5 on a 7-level international scale, news reports said. Level 4 is for incidents with local consequences while level denotes broader consequences. It was not immediately clear why the action had been taken. The partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 was rated 5 and the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 was rated 7.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

State advocates seek more say in Duke-Progress merger | Charlotte Business Journal

John Downey

Duke and Progress say they need approval of the merger from only North Carolina and Kentucky. That has raised concerns that utility customers in other states might not share as completely in the savings and other concessions the utilities might make to gain approval.

The Office of Rate Intervention in the Kentucky attorney general’s office organized a working group involving other states served by the two utilities. So far, the Public Staff of the N.C. Utility Commission, the Ohio Consumer Counsel the Indiana Office of Utility Customer Council and the S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff have agreed to participate.

Ethics complaint claims Florida PSC chairman socializing with water utility officials


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Frank Reams, a Zephyrhills resident, said in a complaint filed Tuesday with the Florida Commission on Ethics that Graham spent an hour conversing over drinks with Aqua America Inc. regional president Christopher Franklin, and regulatory counsel Kimberly Joyce. They were talking in the Renaissance Hotel lobby on Feb. 15 during a national Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Conference in Washington, D.C., the complaint states.

Radiation Spread Seen; Frantic Repairs Go On

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mercury Emission Limits for Coal Plants Proposed by E.P.A. -

She estimated the total annual cost of compliance at about $10 billion, in line with some industry estimates (although some are much higher), and the health and environmental benefits at more than $100 billion a year. She said that households could expect to see their electric bills rise by $3 to $4 a month when the regulation was fully in force after 2015.

In wake of Japan disaster, Duke Energy and critics spar on nuclear cost | Wake County | Independent Weekly

by Bob Geary

Based on U.S. Department of Energy cost estimates for natural gas, Bradford told the Indy, "You couldn't say that we won't need any more nuclear [power] for a century. But you could say with some confidence that you wouldn't need it for 20 years or so."

Helicopter mission deemed unsafe; Japan struggles to cool radioactive materials

The second helicopter, a Boeing CH-47 was scheduled to make several passes, dropping seawater onto Unit 3, which had suffered an explosion on Monday that resulted in structural damage that appears to have compromised the reactor. But the crew on the lead chopper found radiation levels were too high to carry out the risky mission. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers

They are the faceless 50, the unnamed operators who stayed behind. They have volunteered, or been assigned, to pump seawater on dangerously exposed nuclear fuel, already thought to be partly melting and spewing radioactive material, to prevent full meltdowns that could throw thousands of tons of radioactive dust high into the air and imperil millions of their compatriots.

SCE&G says its Fairfield nuclear site is safe - Local / Metro -

Sammy Fretwell
During a news conference Tuesday morning, company executives said two new plants proposed at the Fairfield site will be designed to keep cooling water circulating during emergencies. A major concern in Japan was the loss of power, which made it difficult to cool nuclear fuel. That is being blamed more on a tsunami that followed the massive quake, rather than the quake itself, SCE&G officials said.

Crisis could cool S.C. plans

Sammy Fretwell
Atomic energy boosters, who note the nuclear industry employs thousands of workers, say it is unfair to compare the Palmetto State’s atomic plant sites to Japan’s. They say South Carolina’s sites are less likely to experience devastating earthquakes than sites in Japan, even though tremors sometimes shake the Palmetto State. South Carolina has nuclear power plants in four counties: Oconee, Darlington, Fairfield and York.

Japanese nuclear incident could affect public sentiment in SC - WIS News 10 - Columbia, South Carolina |

By Jack Kuenzie -

"This is a nightmare scenario, and it's real, it's happening and it could happen at any nuclear plant," said Tom Clements, who works with the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

Clements is no friend of nuclear power generation, and what he sees happening in Japan convinces him the U.S. and especially this state need to slow down on construction new nuclear plants. "We are in an area where there could be a big earthquake, so I think another step for prudence would be to halt the design review and look back into the earthquake threat that we face here in Columbia, South Carolina at the V.C. Summer plant," said Clements.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Faces Prospect of Nuclear Catastrophe as Workers Leave Plant -

TOKYO — Japan faced the likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident Tuesday morning, as an explosion at the most crippled of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency workers were withdrawn from the plant, and much larger emissions of radioactive materials appeared immiment, according to official statements and industry executives informed about the developments.

Nuke-related stock down at midday; Shaw off 18% - Electric Power | Platts News Article & Story

As of about 12:45 p.m. EDT, Shaw Group's share price was down $7.05/share, or 18.4%, to $31.36/share. Shaw, with Westinghouse, is under contract to design, equip and build several 1,117-MW AP1000 nuclear units, including the two units planned by Georgia Power and its partners at their Vogtle station, and the two units planned by South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper at their V.C. Summer station.

Hearing on spending for Duke Energy’s Lee nuclear plant starts Tuesday | Charlotte Business Journal

John Downey

With the world transfixed on the potential of nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, Duke Energy goes to N.C. regulators Tuesday for authorization to spend $267 million more on planning for the proposed Lee Nuclear Station.

SC utility regulators pitch conservation program

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina utility regulators are promoting a national water conservation program called Fix-a-Leak.
The weeklong awareness campaign begins Monday and is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Yucca Mountain Still Alive under GOP Plan

While opponents have gained the upper hand in trying to block the project in recent years — in 2009, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that “Yucca Mountain as a repository is off the table” — a group of House Republicans is fighting back. They want to revive the site as part of a broader plan that calls for building 200 new nuclear plants

U.S. Nuclear Industry Faces New Uncertainty

WASHINGTON — The fragile bipartisan consensus that nuclear power offers a big piece of the answer to America’s energy and global warming challenges may have evaporated as quickly as confidence inJapan’s crippled nuclear reactors.

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