IS UTAH NEXT IN THE STRING OF FAILED NUCLEAR POWER PROJECTS?

WILL UTAH TAXPAYERS BE LEFT HOLDING THE BAG? 

UPDATE: Three cities have withdrawn as of October 1. Read the Association’s press release.

City councils throughout Utah only have until October 31st to decide on whether or not to continue supporting the installation of unproven small module nuclear reactors in Southern Idaho that would provide power to 27 Utah cities and towns. If they don’t pull out now, the costs to taxpayers will just continue to balloon.

These reactors also happen to be untested, unproven, and will leave residents with a very expensive 40-year-long bill. This is a bad idea for taxpayers. And a bad idea for all the small cities that have signed on.

The 27 Utah city and town councils which have committed their municipal power ratepayers to the Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) Small Modular Nuclear Project (also known as the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) have only a few weeks to withdraw from the project. This plan, based on evidence and calculations done by the Utah Taxpayers Association, provides a bleak picture of the massive high-risk financial commitments these cities will need to make long into the future. The proposal carries the likely potential for delays and enormous cost overruns on unproven technology that continues to be less and less cost competitive than other clean energy alternatives.

The Utah Taxpayers Association strongly suggests that city council members remove their taxpayers from the burden of the project, and urges residents to contact their city council in support of the decision to opt-out.

According to a presentation on the project in a recent Bountiful City Council meeting, after years of effort, the project is only less than 30% subscribed. In the past year, subscriptions to the project increased by only 1 megawatt (over the current 213 total).

Many similar project over the past 50 years have left cities in bond default, bankruptcy, paying off debt for projects that were not completed, or with electricity bills that were more costly than the market.   

  • Vogtle Project – Jacksonville, Florida: 5 years behind schedule and $15 BILLION over budget.
  • Seabrook Project – Seabrook, New Hampshire: $7 BILLION spent. Led to city’s utility bankruptcy.
  • Marble Hill Project – Hanover, Indiana: Project went bankrupt; left power co-op $500 MILLION in debt.
  • Satsop Project – Greys Harbor County, Washington: Power co-op $2.5 BILLION municipal bond default.
  • Virgil C. Summer Project – Jenkinsville, South Carolina: Project cancelled mid-construction after $5 BILLION of taxpayer money spent.
  • Riverbend Project – St. Francisville, Louisiana: Project cancelled after $4 BILLION of taxpayer money spent.

The UAMPS CFPP project could also lead to massive sunk costs unless you urge your city council to act now to withdraw.

Cities that have subscribed to this project have sunk approximately $9 million dollars into it so far. According to the agreement they entered into when the project began, they have to affirmatively vote to withdraw from the project at several “off-ramps” or they are contractually obligated to continue on.

These municipalities are currently in an “off-ramp” period that lasts until October 31, 2020.

Committing cities is the wrong move and could put ratepayers and taxpayers on the hook for massive sunk costs for decades to come. The money spent on the project so far pales in comparison to what cities would be signing up for next.

We urge city councils in the 27 municipalities in Utah that are subscribed to the project to vote in a public meeting before the October 31, 2020 deadline to withdraw from the project. We would also urge taxpayers in those cities to contact their city council and urge them to vote to withdraw.

Your Taxpayers Association held a press conference on August 4, 2020 detailing our concerns to cities’ participation in this project. You can listen to the entire conference by clicking here.

 

Note – the 27 municipalities are: 

Beaver, Blanding, Bountiful, Brigham City, Enterprise, Ephraim, Fairview, Fillmore, Heber, Holden, Hurricane, Hyrum, Kanosh, Kaysville, Lehi, Logan, Monroe, Morgan, Mt. Pleasant, Murray, Oak City, Paragonah, Parowan, Payson, Santa Clara, Spring City and Washington.