Fresno Nuclear Energy Group LLC

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

The Fresno Nuclear Energy Group was launched in mid-December 2006 to promote the establishment of a nuclear power station in Fresno county, California.

The group, which was described as comprising "prominent figures in the Fresno business and farming communities," has foreshadowed proposing a "community-owned" nuclear power plant comprising two 1,600 mega-watt reactors. [1] The group's spokesperson, John Hutson, said, "We intend to be progressive and aggressive with whether or not this will work." [2] Hutson told the Sacramento Bee his group's goal is "to build an operational plant by 2017." He said, "We think at some point the state is going to understand that global warming is the most serious thing to hit this planet, and the way to get around that is to not do things that cause greenhouse gases. ... We're relying on people in California saying we don't want to rely on foreign oil, and we don't want a carbon footprint." [1]

On December 13, 2006, the Fresno group issued its first press release, which stated: [3]

As a part of their research and preparation, the LLC has signed a Letter of Intent with UniStar Nuclear Development LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Constellation Energy, (NYSE: CEG). UniStar offers advanced nuclear design and engineering services, licensing, site preparation, construction, operation and maintenance.

By early 2008, the Fresno group had "raised $2 million ... and has obtained a site permit and property for the plant," reported the Contra Costa Times. Co-founder John Hutson said his group "would be able to sell its power to the city at cost and then make a profit selling to other cities or utilities. ... 'We can give them energy until the cows come home and we'll probably have 700 to 900 megawatts left,' said Hutson, who got the idea after his appointment to the city's utilities commission by Fresno Mayor Alan Autry, who supports the proposed nuclear plant." [2]

Greenpeace activist turned pro-nuclear consultant Patrick Moore, who is national co-chair of the industry-funded Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, was featured at the Fresno group's first public event. Moore's February 22, 2007, Fresno talk was titled, "Searching for a Sustainable Energy Future." [4] [5]

State moratorium

Complicating the group's efforts is a 1976 state law banning new nuclear plant construction in California, until "there exists a demonstrated technology for the permanent disposal of spent fuel." [6]

In February 2007, state assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R.-Irvine) introduced a bill to end the ban. "It's time that we consider allowing the construction of new nuclear power plants, especially given that the state of the art has improved so far since the last ones were built," he told Reuters. However, DeVore admitted that "his bill faces an uphill battle for passage." [7]

"Skepticism about nuclear power abounds among environmentalists and in the Democrat-controlled state Legislature, but recent polls show that California voters are quickly changing their views on nuclear power in light of global warming," reported the San Francisco Chronicle in April 2007. "In a July poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, 39 percent of Californians surveyed said they supported the building of additional nuclear power plants, while 52 percent opposed the idea. A year earlier, the results were 33 percent in support and 59 percent opposed." [8]

Yet the Chronicle added, referring to DeVore's bill to lift California's moratorium on new nuclear power plants, "The likelihood of the bill's survival in the Legislature is shaky at best. The chairs of both the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and the Utilities and Commerce Committee argue that there are plenty of other environment-friendly methods of generating electricity, such as geothermal, wind and solar power." [9]

In April 2007, the California Assembly's Natural Resources Committee killed the DeVore bill to lift the nuclear plant moratorium. But the pro-nuclear Fresno group said their efforts to build a new nuclear plant would not stop: [10]

John Hutson, the [Fresno Nuclear Energy] group's chief executive, said the death of AB719 won't deter his group from going forward with its plans. In fact, the Fresno group's board is scheduled to meet today to consider putting an initiative on the ballot asking voters to repeal the state's nuclear ban.
"The only thing that will stop us will be if the voters say we don't want nuclear power in California," he said.

In November 2007, DeVore withdrew his ballot initiative, to allow new nuclear plants to be built in the state. DeVore "got permission to begin gathering signatures to place the initiative on the ballot" in October 2007, but "no signature gathering was done," because polls found 52 percent of Californians support new nuclear plants, while 42 percent oppose them. "If we pushed this thing to the ballot, we were likely to lose," said DeVore. "You want to be in the mid-60 percent range before you start on something that controversial." Instead, "he plans to submit a bill next year that would lift the nuclear moratorium legislatively." [3] On the website of his pro-nuclear group, Power for California, DeVore commented, "Eventually, California will catch up to reality." [4]

In March 2008, John Hutson, the head of the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group, said they would try "to avoid the state moratorium by not producing waste. Used fuel would be shipped to France for reprocessing, rather than encased in steel and concrete and stored on site awaiting a permanent repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada." [5]

Founders

  • John Hutson, president and chief executive;
  • Al Smith, president and chief executive of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce;
  • Dick Caglia, a prominent Fresno businessman;
  • Richard Egan, owner of Central Supply Co. and other businesses in Fresno;
  • Bob Smittcamp, president and chief executive officer of Lyons Magnus;
  • Tom McClean, a Bay Area-based contractor and consultant.

Contact information

Website: http://www.fresnonuclear.com
Email: info(AT)fresnonuclear.com

According to the LLC registration with the state of California (filed December 5, 2006), the Fresno group's mailing address is: [11]

5260 North Palm Avenue Ste 421
Fresno, CA 93704

This address is identical to that of the Fresno law firm Baker, Manock & Jensen. [12]

Articles and resources

References

  1. Kevin Yamamura, "Is more nuclear energy in California's energy future?," The Sacramento Bee (California), November 3, 2008.
  2. Janis Mara, "Nuclear war in California," Contra Costa Times (California), March 26, 2008.
  3. David Sneed, "Initiative to reverse ban on nuclear plants statwide is withdrawn: Insufficient public support for new nuclear plants in California prompts sponsor to shelve the plan," The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, California), November 27, 2007.
  4. "Safe, clean power for California," Power for California homepage, accessed November 2007.
  5. David Whitney, "Nuclear power industry reasserts itself after 3-decade lull," Sacramento Bee, March 16, 2008.

External resources

External articles