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Fortnightly Magazine - December 1997

100-page report, Nuclear Power Generation and Fuel Cycle Report 1997, said five new nuclear units were added worldwide to the electric grid in 1996. Watts Bar 1, one of the five, may be the last U.S. commercial nuclear plant. Forty-five plants remain under construction in other countries - seven each in Russia and North Korea. Twenty-seven more units are planned. EIA expects worldwide nuclear capacity to increase to 391 net gigawatts-electric by 2010, falling to 360 net GWe by 2015 mostly due to retirement of many U.S. plants at license expiration.

Ten thousand metric tons of uranium are expected to be discharged as spent fuel from world nuclear reactors in 1997; the U.S. will account for about 2,000 metric tons. From 1997 through 2015, worldwide discharge is projected at 206,000 metric tons of uranium, including about 38,000 metric tons in the U.S.

EIA said DOE hopes to complete by 1998 an assessment of viability of Yucca Mountain as a nuclear spent waste repository, which is scheduled to begin receiving waste in 2010. Copies of the report are available at www/eia/doe/gov.


A task force appointed to study Wisconsin's electric reliability problems has reported that recurring power shortages are costly and disruptive, and has recommended several changes to improve the situation, including building more generation and transmission lines.

An 11-member energy supplier group also submitted recommendations and agreed with most of the findings submitted by the task force.

The Customer Task Force, formed July 24 by Gov. Tommy G. Thompson (R-Wisc.), said that a near crisis in supply for much of eastern Wisconsin in 1995 and shortages in summer 1997 together marked a "pattern" of unreliability in the state. The task force's Sept. 30 report calls for increasing generating capacity in eastern Wisconsin by 500 megawatts to 600 MW, building transmission lines, increasing transfer capacity at interfaces and speeding up the permitting process at the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. It also recommended the PSC establish maintenance and repair standards.

Since construction could not be completed until 1999 at the earliest, a 1998 gap must be addressed by several tariff changes, market-based solutions, communications improvements and short-term repairs, the report said.

The energy supplier task force, comprising IOUs, munis, rural co-ops and one IPP, agreed that additional transmission system capacity is vital. The group's Oct. 1 report also called for faster PSC approval of transmission projects, which they claim takes 44 months on average, despite a statutory limit of 180 days.

Wisconsin Power & Light, Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Northern States Power, which together provide 85 percent of the energy delivered in Wisconsin, said they support the building of merchant power plants to meet the need for new generation. They also prefer a regional independent system operator over a Wisconsin-only ISO.

A splinter group composed of Madison Gas & Electric, the Wisconsin Public Power Inc. SYSTEM, the Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives disagreed with suggestions for ISO control and building of new plants. The faction proposed ending monopoly control by IOUs