December 20, 2006: Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant Should Not Be Sold

  • December 20, 2006
Leah Steinberg

For Immediate Release: December 20, 2006

Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant Should Not Be Sold

MADISON – The Citizens Utility Board is opposed to the proposed sale of the Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant, announced today by We Energies, which intends to sell it to FPL Energy, a utility holding company headquartered in Florida.

“If the sale of Point Beach is approved by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, electricity rates will increase,” said Charlie Higley, executive director. “The people of Wisconsin will lose any ability to oversee the operations of a nuclear power plant located on the shores of Lake Michigan,” continued Higley.

During the next year or so, the PSC will decide if the sale of Point Beach, a 1,033 megawatt nuclear plant located in Two Rivers, is in the public interest. CUB will oppose the sale in the proceedings at the PSC.

Although the terms of the sale have not been made public, CUB is concerned that Wisconsin ratepayers will pay higher rates because of the way electricity is bought and sold in the Midwest. Power plants not owned by regulated utilities are able to make huge profits in Midwest electricity markets. If the sale of Point Beach is approved, a large power plant will no longer be owned by a power company regulated by the PSC: FPL Energy would not have to return excess profits to ratepayers, as is the case for power plants owned by regulated utilities.

In addition to higher costs for ratepayers, the State of Wisconsin will lose jurisdiction over what is arguably the state’s most polluting industrial operation: Point Beach produces thousands of pounds of radioactive wastes every year, for which there are no safe means of disposal.

FPL Energy could run the plant to maximize profits instead of safety. The PSC would have no authority over whether investments should be made to keep the plant operating safely, or whether the plant should be shut down should problems arise regarding its operation. FPL Energy could potentially use the site to store nuclear waste from other nuclear reactors. FPL Energy could even sell the plant to another entity, all without oversight by the PSC and the Wisconsin public.

“If the PSC approves the sale of the Point Beach Nuclear Power Plant, the Commission will have taken another step toward electricity deregulation, which will mean higher electricity rates, more pollution, more profits for energy companies, and less control over energy policy by the people of Wisconsin,” concluded Higley.