Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 3, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Legislative Update


  • An Arizona Capitol Times reporter provides a mid-week legislative update.
Guests:
  • Jim Small - Arizona Capitol Times
Category: Legislature

View Transcript
Ted Simons: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO "HORIZON" I'M TED SIMONS. LAWMAKERS CONTINUE THEIR SPECIAL SESSION FOR FINDING SOLUTIONS TO THE STATE'S BUDGET CRISIS. JOINING ME NOW WITH THE LATEST IS ARIZONA CAPITOL TIMES REPORTER JIM SMALL. JIM, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

Jim Small: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

Ted Simons: BOY, SALES TO THE SPENDING?

Jim Small: LAWMAKERS SPENT NINE MONTHS OF THE YEAR BICKERING ABOUT IT WE HAD A HANDFUL, THREE OR FOUR MAYBE VOTES WHERE IT LOOKED LIKE SOMETHING MIGHT GET THROUGH AND IT DIDN'T. THINGS FELL APART.

Ted Simons: WHAT HAPPENED DIFFERENTLY THIS TIME?

Jim Small: THE MAIN THINGS THAT HAPPENED DIFFERENTLY TO TIME IS DEMOCRATS, ESPECIALLY IN THE SENATE, HAD SAID FOR A GOOD SIX MONTHS PROBABLY IF WE'RE GOING TO DO THE SALES TAX INCREASE AND PUT IT ON THE BALLOT, WE WANT THAT TO BE ALL THAT'S IN THIS PACKAGE. WE DON'T WANT IT TO BE TIED TO SPENDING CUTS, TAX CUTS OR THINGS LIKE VOTER INITIATIVE REFORM OR VOTER CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION REFORM. AND THAT'S WHAT THEY GOT THIS TIME. THEY GOT -- I MEAN, THIS IS -- THERE'S SOME -- THERE'S SOME OTHER MEASURES THAT ARE BORROWING RELATED BUT FOR THE CURRENT FISCAL YEAR, IT'S TO FIX THE DEFICIT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW. AND THE ONLY THING FOR THE UPCOMING BUDGET THAT'S INCLUDED IN THE SPECIAL SESSION IS THIS SALES TAX REFERRAL. SO ESSENTIALLY, THEY GOT -- IT'S NOT MUCH BUT THEY DID GET ONE OF THE THINGS THEY WERE ASKING FOR.

Ted Simons: IT SOUNDS LIKE THEY ALSO WERE PART OF THE NEGOTIATIONS. NOW, A, IS THAT TRUE? AND B, HOW MUCH A PART?

Jim Small: I THINK IT'S CLEAR THAT SENATE DEMOCRATS WERE AT LEAST CONSULTED IN SOME WAY ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING OR THEY AT THE VERY LEAST TOLD THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE AND SENATE PRESIDENT BOB BURNS, LOOK, THIS IS WHAT WE WANT, AND IF YOU CAN DO THIS, WE WILL WORK WITH YOU GUYS. AND OBVIOUSLY THEY MET THEIR REQUIREMENTS AND THEY VOTED IT OUT. THE DEMOCRATS WERE SPONSORS. DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP WERE SPONSORS ON EVERY ONE OF THE BILLS.

Ted Simons: EARMARKED AGAIN SOME OF THIS MONEY NOW EARMARKED FOR EDUCATION, HEALTH, WELFARE, SAFETY, THESE SORTS OF THINGS AND THEY WANTED THAT IN THERE AS WELL?

Jim Small: YEAH, AND THAT CERTAINLY WAS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT GOVERNOR BREWER HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR AND HAD BEEN TALKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, AS A WAY TO SELL IT TO VOTERS, I THINK, MAINLY.

Ted Simons: A STATE LOTTERY ALSO REAUTHORIZED?

Jim Small: YEAH, THAT'S ANOTHER ONE OF THE BILLS. IT'S NOT EVEN REALLY TECHNICALLY REAUTHORIZED. IT'S LIKE IT CREATES A NEW LOTTERY. CURRENT LOTTERY IS SET TO EXPIRE IN I THINK A YEAR OR A YEAR AND A HALF AND THIS ONE, INSTEAD OF GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS OF DOING WHAT IS CALLED A SUNSET REVIEW WHERE YOU REAUTHORIZE THAT PROGRAM FOR ANOTHER 10 YEARS, THIS CREATES A NEW ONE. AND THE WHOLE REASON FOR DOING THAT IS THAT IT ALLOWS THEM TO BORROW AGAINST FUTURE LOTTERY REVENUES NOW. THE PROBLEM WITH HAVING TO GO THROUGH A REAUTHORIZATION PERIOD YOU CAN'T BORROW FOR REVENUE YOU'LL GET THREE OR FOUR OR FIVE YEARS FROM NOW BECAUSE A FINANCIAL INSTITUTION IS GOING TO LOOK AT IT AND GO, WELL, YOU SAY IT'S A SURE THING IT'LL BE HERE BUT WE DON'T KNOW THAT FOR SURE THIS BASICALLY LETS THE LOTTERY CONTINUE IN ITS CURRENT FORM EVEN THOUGH IT'LL TECHNICALLY BE A NEW LOTTERY.

Ted Simons: THE, UM, -- AND ALSO BORROWING AGAINST FUTURE LOTTERY PROCEEDS AND AGAIN FOR MORTGAGING THE STATE BUILDINGS AGAIN, WE'RE BACK AT THAT AS WELL MAKING IT OUT OF THE SENATE, WAS THE GOVERNOR INVOLVED MUCH IN HELPING SHEPHERD THIS STUFF THROUGH?

Jim Small: I THINK IT'S CLEAR THAT SHE DID DEFINITELY TALK TO DEMOCRATS, AT LEAST SOME OF THEM, AND TRY TO MAKE SURE THAT SHE WOULD HAVE THEIR VOTES AND THAT WE WOULDN'T END UP WITH SITUATIONS LIKE WE HAD LAST YEAR. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, WHAT ENDED UP HAPPENING IS YOU HAD ABOUT HALF THE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS AND HALF THE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS WHO SUPPORTED THIS THING IN THE SENATE SO -- SO, YOU TRULY DID NEED BIPARTISAN SUPPORT TO GET THIS OUT AND THERE WAS BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION AS WELL.

Ted Simons: OK, OVER IN THE HOUSE, THINGS GOING AS SMOOTHLY?

Jim Small: THEY -- WELL, SO FAR THEY ARE BUT WE HAVEN'T REALLY GOTTEN TO THE BILLS YET. THEY'RE PLANNING ON DOING IT TOMORROW. DOESN'T LOOK LIKE THINGS ARE GOING TO GO AS SMOOTHLY. HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE NOT NECESSARILY ON BOARD WITH THE WAY THAT THIS THING IS SET UP. THEY -- A NUMBER OF THEM THAT I TALKED WITH SAY THEY'D LIKE TO SEE BIGGER CHUNKS TAKEN OUT OF THE 2011 DEFICIT. IT'S ABOUT $3 BILLION OR SO RIGHT NOW. ALL OF THIS DOES IS PUT A SALES TAX ON THE BALLOT AND DOESN'T DEAL WITH ANY OF THE OTHER SPENDING MEASURES OR ANY OF THE OTHER BORROWING, ANYTHING ELSE. OTHER PEOPLE SAY, YOU KNOW, THE HOUSE JUST PASSED A JOBS CREATION PACKAGE LAST WEEK. WE REALLY WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE SENATE MOVE FORWARD ON THAT AND POSSIBLY GET THAT TO THE FLOOR AND VOTE IT. IF THAT HAPPENS, AT LEAST WE'RE GIVING BUSINESSES SOME IDEA OF TAX CUTS DOWN THE LINE SO THAT WOULD MAKE IT OK TO VOTE FOR A SALES TAX INCREASE.

Ted Simons: I WAS GOING TO SAY, BUT IF THAT HAPPENS, SOUNDS LIKE YOU CAN FORGET ABOUT ANY DEMOCRATS JUMPING ON BOARD, BECAUSE IT SOUNDS LIKE WHAT THEY DON'T WANT TO HAPPEN IS FOR THOSE -- YEAH, THE 1 CENT SALES TAX INCREASE BASICALLY BACK FILLING WHAT THEY SEE AS FUTURE TAX CUTS AND LOSS OF REVENUE.

Jim Small: THAT'S EXACTLY IS A NUMBER OF DEMOCRAT LEADERS SPOKE TO DAVID LUJAN YESTERDAY. HE SAID I'M WAITING TO SEE WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH THE JOB TAX CUT BILL BECAUSE I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH PUTTING SOMETHING ON THE BALLOT AND ASKING VOTERS TO RAISE TAXES AND ONLY TO HAVE OTHER LAWMAKERS TURN AROUND AND TAKE MONEY AND ADD TO THE DEFICIT BY GIVING AWAY TAXES.

Ted Simons: THAT'S GOING OUT OF THE HOUSE YESTERDAY ON "HORIZON." WE HAD REPRESENTATIVES KOPINICKI AND CAMPBELL. REPRESENTATIVE WAS A SPONSOR OF THE STEALTH BUDGET OR ORPHAN BUDGET. IT'S BASICALLY AN ATTEMPT -- AND WE HAD A DEMOCRAT AND REPUBLICAN TALK ABOUT IT, SEEMINGLY GETTING ALONG WITH THE IDEA OF A COMPROMISED BUDGET. HOW MUCH STEAM IS THIS GETTING DOWN THERE?

Jim Small: IT'S CERTAINLY GENERATING A LOT OF DISCUSSION. I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S REALLY A MAJOR PURPOSE OF THIS FROM EVERYONE I'VE TALKED TO THAT'S BEEN INVOLVED IN IT. I SPOKE WITH MR. KOPINICKI AND REPRESENTATIVE CAMPBELL AND NUMBER OFF PEOPLE. THE IDEA IS TO GENERATE DISCUSSION ABOUT ISSUES THEY FEEL HAVEN'T BEEN TALKED ABOUT ENOUGH, THINGS LIKE THE AMOUNT OF DEBT THAT THE STATE HAS ALREADY INCURRED AND WHAT IT'LL HAVE TO INCUR IN THE FUTURE. SHIFTING COSTS DOWN TO COUNTIES TO HEALTH CARE COSTS TO HOSPITALS AND WHAT SORT OF AN IMPACT THAT HAS. WHAT EDUCATION IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE IN THE NEXT FIVE OR 10 YEARS IF WE WITH THE CURRENT LEVEL OF CUTS AND IF FUTURE CUTS GO FORWARD. YOU KNOW, I KNOW MR. KOPINICKI TOLD ME TODAY HE'S GOING TO SPONSOR THAT LEGISLATION. THEY'RE WORKING ON GETTING IT DRAFTED. I TALKED TO ANOTHER DEMOCRAT FROM TUCSON NAMED MATT HEINZ WHO TOLD ME HE ALSO OFFERED HIS NAME UP TO BE THE DEMOCRAT CO-SPONSOR. HOUSE SPEAKER KIRK ADAMS PROMISED ANYONE WHO BRINGS FORWARD BUDGET BILLS WILL HAVE ABLE TO HAVE THEM HEARD AND GET DISCUSSED. THAT'S THE ULTIMATE GOAL.

Ted Simons: THAT'S NEWS BECAUSE OF LAST NIGHT, KOPINICKI SAID HE HADN'T FOUND A CO-SPONSOR AS OF YET BUT HE'S LOOKING. IT'S NICE HE FOUND ONE. CO-CHAIR KAVANAUGH WANTS NOTHING OF IT. IT DOES INCLUDE FOOD TAX, HEALTHCARE TAX, AND INCOME TAX HIKE, IT INCLUDES FUTURE CORPORATE TAX CUTS. THERE'S SOMETHING IN THERE FOR EVERYONE. KAVANAUGH SAYS I DON'T WANT TO SEE IT HEAR IT, KNOW ABOUT IT BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE THE SPEAKER SAYS YOU PUT IT IN BILL FORM AND WE'RE GOING TO HEAR IT.

Jim Small: WE'RE GOING TO HEAR IT. DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN IT HAS TO BE IN APPROPRIATIONS, I SUPPOSE. THERE'S CERTAINLY OTHER WAYS TO IT. THE PEOPLE THAT WERE SORT OF RESPONSIBLE FOR COMING UP WITH THESE IDEAS, THEY'RE NOT NAIVE. THEY DON'T THINK THIS'LL BE PASSED AND ADOPTED AND EVERYTHING WILL BE ROSY HERE IN THE NEXT MONTH. THEY UNDERSTAND THAT YOU KNOW, BILL KOPINICKI TOLD ME, LOOK, I KNOW THIS WON'T GET PASSED. IF THIS GETS PASSED AT PROBE, I'LL BE SHOCKED. WHATEVER COMES OUT, THE FINAL VERSION OF THE BUDGET WON'T LOOK LIKE THIS. IT’S NOT A FINAL VERSION, IT'S MEANT TO BRING FORWARD IDEAS AND GENERATE DISCUSSION.

Ted Simons: OK, NOT ONLY THAT BUT ALSO LET PEOPLE KNOW THERE'S SOMETHING ELSE BUBBLING AROUND THERE IN CASE EVERYTHING ELSE FALLS APART.

Jim Small: SURE. LET PEOPLE KNOW THE TWO SIDES CAN COME TO WORK TOGETHER GIVEN THE RIGHT CIRCUMSTANCES AND RIGHT APPROACH.

Ted Simons: UNBELIEVABLE. JIM, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. WE APPRECIATE IT.

Jim Small: THANK YOU.

Nuclear Power in Arizona


  • President Obama and Governor Brewer are among those calling for a renewed commitment to nuclear energy. What is the future of nuclear power in Arizona? Guests include: Renz Jennings, former Arizona Corporation Commissioner, and Keith Holbert, Ph.D., ASU School of Engineering.
Guests:
  • Renz Jennings - Former Arizona Corporation Commissioner
  • Keith Holbert, Ph.D. - ASU School of Engineering
Category: Energy

View Transcript
Ted Simons: THE PRESIDENT IS CALLING FOR IT. ARIZONA'S GOVERNOR IS, TOO. LOTS OF PEOPLE ARE PUSH FOR A NEW COMMITMENT TO NUCLEAR ENERGY BUT IS A NUCLEAR RENAISSANCE A GOOD IDEA? MORE ON THAT IN A MOMENT, BUT FIRST, DAVID MAJURE TAKES US TO THE PALO VERDE NUCLEAR GENERATING STATION ABOUT 50 MILES WEST OF PHOENIX.

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WALKING INTO THE CONTAINMENT AREA SURROUNDING A NUCLEAR REACTOR FOR THE FIRST TIME IS A BIT UNSETTLING ESPECIALLY WHEN YOUR TOUR GUIDE SAYS SOMETHING LIKE THIS.

AS YOU CAN SEE FROM THE SIGN THERE COULD POTENTIALLY BE RADIATION OR CONTAMINATION ON THIS SIDE OF THE POSTING, THIS IS A CLEAN AREA. ONCE WE GO IN THROUGH TO THE CONTAINMENT AREA, WE'LL BE IN THE POTENTIALLY RADIO ACTIVE OR CONTAMINATED AREAS.

THAT WAS THE SUMMER OF 2009 WHEN I WAS PART OF A SMALL GROUP OF REPORTERS INVITED TO WATCH THE REFUELING OF A REACTOR AT PALO VERDE NUCLEAR GENERATING STATION. THE PLANT IS THE LARGEST ENERGY PRODUCER IN THE NATION.

OUR TOTAL OUTPUT IS 4,030 MEGAWATTS. THAT'S ENOUGH TO PROVIDE 4 MILLION PEOPLE WHICH IS ABOUT THE PHOENIX METRO AREA.

RANDY EDDINGTON IS PALO VERDE'S CHIEF NUCLEAR OFFICER. BEFORE OUR TOUR, HE POINTED OUT SOME BENEFITS OF NUCLEAR ENERGY.

WELL, THE POSITIVES OF NUCLEAR POWER IS WE DON'T REDUCE ANY GREENHOUSE GASES WHATSOEVER.

AS A CARBON FREE SOURCE OF ENERGY, NUCLEAR IS A CONTENDER IN THE FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING BUT THE FIGHT FOR PUBLIC OPINION MAY BE ITS GREATEST CHALLENGE. NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS LIKE THE ONE AT THREE MILE ISLAND REMAIN ETCHED PEOPLE'S MEMORIES BUT THAT WAS DECADES AGO. AND IN RECENT YEARS, THE INDUSTRY SAFETY RECORD HAS BY MOST ACCOUNTS BEEN EXCELLENT.

AT THE NRC, OUR JOB IS REALLY ON MAKING SURE THAT THE PLANTS THAT ARE OUT THERE THE NUCLEAR PLANTS, OPERATE SAFELY AND SECURELY.

GREGORY YASCO CHAIRS THE U.S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION. HE WAS KEYNOTE SPEAKER THIS WEEK ON A E.U. CONFERENCE.

WE BELIEVE THE REACTORS OPERATE SAFELY.

THE LAYERS OF SECURITY AND ATTENTION TO PERSONAL SAFETY AT PALO VERDE ARE IMPRESSIVE. SOME WE CAN SHOW YOU, BUT OTHERS WE CAN'T.

NOW IN THE AUXILIARY BUILDING IN THE RADIATION PROTECTION ISLAND. THIS IS THE TERMINOLOGY WE USE FOR THE ENTRY POINT TO THE RADIOLOGICAL CONTROL AREA.

EVERYONE THAT ENTERS THAT AREA HAS TO DRESS APPROPRIATELY.

PROTECTIVE CLOTHING PROTECTS FROM YOU CONTAMINATION, NOT RADIATION.
CONTAMINATION IS LOOSE MATERIAL THAT IF IT GETS ON YOU, YOU COULD BE CONTAMINATED.

YOU HAVE TO WEAR A DEVICE THAT MONITORS YOUR EXPOSURE TO RADIATION.

THIS IS THE OFFICIAL ENTRY INTO THE RADIOLOGICAL CONTROLLED AREA. TO ENSURE
EACH PERSON HAS THE PROPER MONITORING DEVICES ON THEM, WE HAVE POSITIVE CONTROLS HERE. THIS TURNSTILE HAS TO BE ACTIVATED BY EACH INDIVIDUAL'S ELECTRONIC PERSONAL DISSEMINATOR. THEN IT'LL UNLOCK AND LET YOU GO THROUGH. WHEN YOU GO OUT, YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH MONITORS THAT YOU STEP IN AND SCREEN YOURSELF TO MAKE SURE THERE'S NO CONTAMINATION BEFORE YOU EXIT.

THAT'S HOW THEY GET THEIR WORKERS SAFE BUT WHAT ABOUT PUBLIC SAFETY AND PREVENTING MAJOR MALFUNCTIONS THAT COULD LEAD TO A NUCLEAR MELTDOWN?

WE DO MARGIN UPON MARGINS OF SAFETY.

EDDINGTON SAYS THE PLANT'S SAFETY LAYERS HAVE LAYERS OF REDUNDANCY.

WE DO A VERY DETAILED ENGINEERING REVIEW. IF YOU WATCH A NUCLEAR PLANT WHEN WE DO A REFUEL, WE BASICALLY CHANGE COMPONENTS OUT ALL THE TIME. SO WE ALWAYS MAINTAIN THIS PLANT ALMOST AS NEW CONDITION.

IS ALL OF THAT ENOUGH TO GAIN PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR NUCLEAR POWER? RECENT POLLS INDICATE A GROWING ACCEPTANCE. A 2009 GALLOP POLL SHOWS 59% OF AMERICANS SUPPORT THE USE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY AS ONE WAY TO PROVIDE ELECTRICITY IN THE U.S.. THAT'S AN ALL-TIME HIGH.

I THINK THAT THE PUBLIC AS A WHOLE IS MUCH MORE AWARE OF OUR ENERGY NEEDS AND NOT JUST THE SHORT-TERM ENERGY NEEDS BUT THE LONG-TERM ENERGY NEEDS. I THINK NUCLEAR ABSOLUTELY SHOULD BE A VIABLE PIECE TO THAT A GOOD PIECE AND I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO BUILDING NEW NUCLEAR PLANTS.

HE'S NOT ALONE.

WE NEED MORE PRODUCTION, EFFICIENCY AND INCENTIVES. THAT MEANS BUILDING A NEW GENERATION OF SAFE, CLEAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IN THIS COUNTRY.

WE HAVE SEEN 18 APPLICATIONS FOR NEW NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS COME IN TO THE AGENCY. RIGHT NOW, WE'RE ACTIVELY WORKING ON 13 OF THOSE APPLICATIONS. IF THEY WERE ALL TO BE LICENSED AND BUILT, THAT WOULD PRODUCE ABOUT 21 REACTORS IN THE COUNTRY.

CHAIRMAN YASCO SAYS IT COULD TAKE A DECADE OR MORE TO BUILD A NUCLEAR PLANT. THE LICENSING PROCESS COULD EASILY TAKE FOUR YEARS.

CERTAINLY THE NEWER GENERATION OF PLANTS ARE DESIGNED TO BE MUCH SAFER THAN I THINK THE EXISTING FLEET WAS DESIGNED TO BE. WE HAVE A MUCH BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF A LOT OF MATERIALS. WE HAVE A MUCH BETTER UNDERSTANDING TODAY OF THE PERFORMANCE AND HOW THESE NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS ACTUALLY BEHAVE.

IT SOUNDS LIKE WE'VE LEARNED A LOT, EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO NUCLEAR WASTE. ONE PLAN FOR LONG-TERM UNDERGROUND STORAGE AT NEVADA'S YUCCA MOUNTAIN IS BEING ABANDONED SO PALO VERDE AND OTHER U.S. PLANTS ARE CONTINUING TO KEEP NUCLEAR ON SITE UNDER WATER AND ABOVE GROUND IN CONCRETE COOLERS. THE NRC SAYS THAT'S A SAFE WAY TO STORE IT FOR AT LEAST 100 YEARS.

THAT'S A VERY LONG TIME, WE THINK, TO REALLY FIGURE OUT WHAT THE OPTIMAL SOLUTION IS TO ULTIMATELY DEALING WITH THIS FUEL ON A LONG-TERM BASIS.

OUR LAST STOP WAS THE REFUELING POOL, A CHANCE TO LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE REACTOR CORE AS URANIUM-FILLED FUEL ASSEMBLIES ARE LOWERED INTO PLACE IT ALL HAPPENS UNDER 34 FEET OF WATER PROTECTING US FROM RADIATION.

SOME OF THE FUEL ASSEMBLIES THAT ARE HIGHLY IRRADIATED ARE SHOWING A RADIATION CALLED SHRINK OPERATION. UNDER WATER IT LOOKS LIKE A BLUE GLOW. THAT'S THE METHOD OF RADIATION THAT'S DECAYING. AS THE ENERGY DISSIPATES AWAY FROM THE FUEL ASSEMBLY, IT GIVES OFF WHAT APPEARS TO THE NAKED EYE AS A BLUE LIGHT.

IT'S A SIGHT THAT'S ALL AT ONCE BEAUTIFUL AND MENACING.

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Ted Simons: AND HERE WITH MORE ON NUCLEAR ENERGY IS KEITH HOLBERT, AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR FOR ASU'S SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING. HE ALSO HAS A DOCTORATE IN NUCLEAR ENGINEERING. AND RENZ JENNINGS, A FORMER MEMBER OF THE ARIZONA COOPERATION COMMISSION, WHICH IS RESPONSIBLE FOR REGULATING THE PALO VERDE NUCLEAR GENERATING STATION AND OTHER PUBLIC UTILITIES. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

Ted Simons: THE REVIVAL OF INTEREST IN NUCLEAR ENERGY, IS THIS A GOOD THING?

Keith Holbert: I THINK SO, IT’S RELIABLE BASE-LOAD GENERATION WITHOUT THE CARBON DIOXIDE ADMISSIONS.

Ted Simons: RENZ, WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS THIS RENAISSANCE GOING ON HERE? A LOT OF FOLKS ARE TALKING. WE JUST SAW THE POLL NUMBERS THERE. A GOOD THING?

Renz Jennings: I DON'T THINK IT IS. THERE'S A GOOD DEAL AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL YOU CAN SEE. I THINK IT'S FAIR TO SAY THAT THE PRESIDENT WANTS TO HAVE A GLOBAL WARMING TREATY AT SOME POINT. WELL, THAT'S NOT ENOUGH. YOU GOT TO GET A VAST NUMBER OF THAT BODY IN THE SENATE TO SUPPORT THAT, RATIFY A TREATY. SO I DON'T THINK THAT HE'S GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET THERE WITH HIS SORT OF SOFT PATH RENEWABLES, WINDMILLS, SOLAR, AND SO ON UNLESS HE DOES A DEAL WITH REPUBLICANS. THEY REALLY WANT NUCLEAR POWER, PARTICULARLY IN THE SOUTH.

Ted Simons: COULD NUCLEAR POWER BE INCLUDED IN A RENEWABLE MIX THAT HAS NUCLEAR ENERGIES AND SUCH.

Renz Jennings: I THINK SO BUT I THINK IT'LL BE SO COSTLY. THESE SOUTHERN COMPANIES THAT ARE DOING IT, THEY'RE BETTING THEIR COMPANIES ON IT. THIS IS NOT -- THIS IS NOT LIKE THE EARLIER WAVE. THIS IS -- THIS IS THE COST ESCALATIONS. THEY'RE GOING THROUGH THE ROOF.

Ted Simons: CAN WE BUILD -- CAN THE UNITED STATES BUILD NUCLEAR ENERGY PLANTS, NUCLEAR REACTORS? CAN THEY BE BUILT ON TIME AND ON BUDGET? IS IT POSSIBLE?

Keith Holbert: WELL, YOU SAID THE UNITED STATES, SO IF WE PULL BACK JUST A LITTLE BIT, WE'RE SEEING THE ASIANS BUILD 'EM IN SIX YEARS. NOW, WE'VE HAD DIFFICULTY BUILDING OUR POWER PLANTS IN SIX YEARS. THEY'RE SAYING POWER PLANT TYPES. SO WE NEED TO CHANGE OUR METHODOLOGY.

Ted Simons: HOW?

Keith Holbert: I THINK WE HAVE TO BE A LITTLE BIT MORE EFFICIENT AND WE HAVE TO BE -- MAYBE TAKE SOME OF THE DEDICATION THAT THEY'VE SHOWN AND THE STRAIGHT-FORWARD PLANNING.

Ted Simons: BECAUSE THERE'S AN IDEA IF YOU BUILD A WHOLE LOT IN A VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME, THE FIRST ONE WILL BE THE ONE THAT REALLY COSTS AND GOES OVER EVERYTHING BUT AFTER THAT, THINGS WILL BOTTOM OUT BETTER IN TERMS OF COSTS, DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?

Keith Holbert: CERTAINLY, THE MORE EXPERIENCE YOU HAVE BUILDING IT SHOULD BRING DOWN THE COST.

Ted Simons: THE -- DOES THAT MAKE SENSE TO YOU, BY THE WAY?

Renz Jennings: HE CITED THE ASIAN EXAMPLE. KOREA AND TAIWAN ARE BUILDING NUCLEAR PLANTS. THE FRENCH ARE BUILDING A REACTOR IN FINLAND. IT'S 50% OVERBUDGET AND 4 1/2 YEARS OVERDUE. BEHIND SCHEDULE. THE FRENCH HAVE 80% OF THEIR ELECTRICITY IS GENERATED -- AND THIS IS ONE OF THE FRENCH COMPANIES THAT BUILDS A NUCLEAR PLANTS. THEY'RE BEING A CLONE IN FRANCE AND IT'S OVERBUDGET. THESE WHAT THEY CALL A PAPER -- AN ACADEMIC REACTOR.

Ted Simons: SO BASICALLY YOU'RE SAYING GOOD IN THEORY, TOUGH IN PRACTICE?

Renz Jennings: EXACTLY.

Ted Simons: WHEN -- IS IT POSSIBLE FOR THAT THEORY TO WORK INTO THAT PRACTICE? IN TERMS OF COSTS?

Keith Holbert: I BELIEVE THAT -- I MEAN THE MAIN ISSUE I THINK RIGHT NOW IN TERMS OF COST IS REALLY OUR RECESSIONARY TIMES AND THE DIFFICULTY IN FINDING FINANCING, BUT WE SEE THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS STEPPING UP IN TERMS OF THAT WITH THE LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM. IT'S NOT SAYING THAT GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO PROVIDE THE LOANS BUT IT'S SAYING IT'LL BACK THE LOANS.

Ted Simons: YEAH, TRIPLE THE LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM?

Keith Holbert: IN FACT, YES, COMPARED TO THE 18 BILLION RIGHT NOW, DOUBLE THAT.

Ted Simons: THE MAJOR CONCERN WITH NUCLEAR ENERGY OBVIOUSLY I THINK FOR MOST FOLKS BESIDES THE COST IS WASTE AND SAFETY AND THESE SORTS OF THINGS. YUCCA MOUNTAIN NOW IS PRETTY MUCH NO-GO THAT MEANS WE'RE BACK TO EVERYONE GOING AND STORING AND DOING YOUR OWN DEAL. IS THERE TECHNOLOGY ON THE HORIZON THAT WILL HELP ANSWER THIS PARTICULAR PROBLEM?

Keith Holbert: THERE'S AN ASPECT THAT'S CALLED TRANSMUTATION WHERE THEY TAKE ANOTHER REACTOR A FAST REACTOR AND YOU PLACE THE SPENT FUEL INTO THE FAST REACTOR AND ALL THE NEUTRONS FROM THE FAST REACTOR BURN, NOT BURN AS IN A FIRE BUT RATHER TRANSMUTE THE FUSION PRODUCTS, THE RADIOACTIVE FUSION PRODUCTS INTO SHORTER LIVED RADIO ISOTOPES. THAT DOES INCREASE THE EXPENSE.

Ted Simons: IT INCREASES THE EXPENSE BUT IT MIGHT HELP FOLKS SAY, ALL RIGHT, INSTEAD OF 10,000 YEARS, WE'RE TALKING 1,000 YEARS OR SOMETHING ALONG THOSE LINES. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU THINK POLITICALLY WILL WORK IN THE UNITED STATES? GET MORE PEOPLE EVEN MORE SO ON THE SIDE OF NUCLEAR?

Renz Jennings: I JUST -- I THINK PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND NUCLEAR POWER AND THEY DON'T WANT TO UNDERSTAND IT. IT'S TECHNICAL IT REQUIRES A LOT -- I HAVE A PH.D IN IT. I EARNED MINE THE HARD WAY BY HAVING TO REGULATE THE UTILITY THAT BUILT THREE OF THEM. SO I DON'T THINK -- THE SAFETY ISSUE IS YOU KNOW, APS HAS DONE A PRETTY GOOD JOB PALO VERDE. ALL THE NEW UNITS OR ALL THE UNITS HAVE BEEN TWEAKED A BIT AND AROUND THE COUNTRY, THE ONES THAT HAVEN'T BEEN SHUT DOWN BECAUSE THEY WERE DOGS AND THE ONES THAT ARE RUNNING NOW ARE DOING A PRETTY GOOD JOB GENERATING ELECTRICITY. IT'S VERY TEMPTING TO SAY WELL, WE'RE GETTING 80% OR 90% ENERGY CAPACITY. THESE THINGS RUN OUT ALL THE TIME, MUCH BETTER THAN COAL AND SO ON AND THEY DON'T HAVE ANY CARBON RELEASE BUT THAT'S THE OLD ONES AND WE WON'T BE BUILDING ANY OF THAT. WE'LL BE BUILDING THE THEORETICAL REACTORS.

Ted Simons: WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT BUILDING THEORETICAL REACTORS, YOU'RE ALSO TRYING TO FIGURE OUT A BETTER WAY TO TAKE CARE OF THE SPENT WASTE, THE SPENT ENERGY. UM, IS IT POSSIBLE TO TEST THIS STUFF WITHOUT TIME. IT WOULD SEEM YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT KEEPING SOMETHING SAFE FOR HUNDREDS IF NOT THOUSANDS OF YEARS. EVEN TO TEST THE CONTAINERS WOULD TAKE TIME, CORRECT?

Keith Holbert: CERTAINLY. BUT GOING BACK TO THESE NEW REACTORS, I THINK WE NEED TO ADDRESS THAT A LITTLE BIT MORE AND SAY THAT THE NEW REACTORS THAT ARE TO BE BUILT IN THE PRESENT GENERATION, IF YOU WILL, ARE NOT PAPER PROJECTS, ACADEMIC PROJECTS. I WOULD REFER TO THEM AS BEING EVOLUTIONARY MEANING EVOLVING FROM THE PRESENT REACTORS, NOT REVOLUTIONARY AS IN WE'RE MAKING GREAT DRAMATIC CHANGES. THESE REACTORS AS WE INDICATED ARE IN EUROPE, ASIA, TAIWAN, JAPAN, CHINA. THESE AREN'T BIG LEAPS IN TECHNOLOGY.

Ted Simons: EVERYONE SEEMS TO WANT TO MENTION FRANCE AS FAR AS A COUNTRY THAT GETS 80% OF ITS POWER FROM NUCLEAR AND SEEMS TO KEEP IT SOMEWHAT UNDER COST AND YET IT SOUNDS LIKE FRANCE IS BASICALLY THE GOVERNMENT WHICH HAS, WHAT? THREE OR SO GENERATING IDEAS AND THAT'S IT. YOU USE ONE OF THOSE THREE PLANS AND YOU DON'T GET, YOU KNOW, DOZENS IF NOT SCORES WHICH HAPPENS HERE IN AMERICA. ARE THE FRENCH DOING IT RIGHT THAT WAY?

Keith Holbert: THE FRENCH ARE DOING MORE THE HENRY FORD APPROACH. YOU CAN HAVE ANY MODEL YOU WANT AS LONG AS IT'S BLACK. BUT THEIR ELECTRIC UTILITY IS GOVERNMENT-RUN, GOVERNMENT-CONTROLLED SO THEY HAD THE BENEFIT, IF YOU WILL, IF IT'S A BENEFIT, OK, SO I'M GOING TO HEDGE THAT, THE BENEFIT THAT THEY CAN MAKE ALL THE POWER PLANTS ESSENTIALLY THE SAME BUT THEY HAVE DIFFERENT MODELS BECAUSE THEY MADE INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS. THEY CERTAINLY WANTED TO IMPROVE. WELL, WE HAVE A FREE ECONOMY HERE. WE HAVE LOTS OF COMPETITORS. WELL, HERE YOU CAN BUY WHAT FLAVOR AND COLOR YOU WANT.

Ted Simons: AND PAY ACCORDINGLY?

Keith Holbert: EXACTLY.

Ted Simons: WOULD THAT IDEA IN TERMS MORE GOVERNMENT INTERACTION IN THE INDUSTRY, MORE SO THAN EVEN NOW WORK THAT HELP, YOU THINK, THE NUCLEAR ENERGY OR DOES THAT JUST MEAN MORE TROUBLE?

Renz Jennings: I THINK IT MEANS MORE TROUBLE. YOU -- THEY -- THEY CAN'T GET INSURANCE, THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY ON THESE PLANTS. THEY HAVE TO HAVE THE INSURANCE PICKED UP BY US. THEY -- THEY'LL CONTRIBUTE SOME IF THERE'S AN ACCIDENT. A FELLOW UTILITY WILL KICK IN IF ANOTHER UTILITY HAS AN ACCIDENT. BUT THE VERY HEAVY LIFTING, 80% OR WHATEVER, FALLS ONTO THE TAXPAYER. IT'S THE MOST CENTRALIZED. TALK ABOUT PICKING WINNERS AND INDUSTRIAL POLICY AND ALL THE THINGS THAT NORMALLY THE CONSERVATIVE FOLKS RAIL ABOUT. NUCLEAR POWER, YOU GOT TO HAVE A HIGH PRIEST AT R.C. LOOKING OVER YOUR SHOULDER TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU DO EVERYTHING RIGHT. YOU -- YOU -- YOU -- THEY DON'T TRUST THIS TO BE OUT IN THE OPEN MUCH SO THEY REPROCESS THE FUEL OR THEY ENRICH THE FUEL OR THEY TAKE OVER THE WASTE AT THE END OF THE CYCLE. IT'S ALL BIG GOVERNMENT STUFF. AND I GUESS MY MAIN BEEF, JUST IN CASE YOU DON'T ASK IS TO DO ONE THING IS TO NOT DO SOMETHING ELSE. RIGHT NOW, THE CHEAPER, THE CHEAPER THE NUCLEAR, SOLAR. EVEN SOLAR. EVEN SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAICS AND CERTAINLY WIND IS CHEAPER. GEOTHERMAL. COMBUSTION TURBINES, COMBINED CYCLE TURBINES. BUT IF YOU PUT ALL OF THIS MONEY IN THE NUCLEAR, INSTEAD OF 10 CENT A KILOWATT HOUR, YOU PAY 30 CENTS A KILOWATT HOUR FOR THE NEW NUKES.

Ted Simons: THAT ALL SOUNDS GREAT, CAN IT DO WHAT NUCLEAR DOES?

Keith Holbert: NUKE NUCLEAR'S BASELOAD MEANING RELIABLE SUPPLIES US POWER WHEN WE'RE READY TO FLIP ON THE LIGHT SWITCH, THE LIGHTS COME ON. I WOULD SAY THAT NUCLEAR IS CHEAPER THAN THINGS LIKE SOLAR OR ELSE WE'D BE BUILDING A LOT MORE SOLAR POWER PLANTS RIGHT NOW. I WOULD HAVE TO RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE.

Ted Simons: WE'LL STOP IT RIGHT THERE GENTLEMEN, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US TONIGHT.

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