Power Reactor Shut-down & Disassembly:
Electricity's Endless 'Balloon' Mortgage
WASHINGTON - The electric industry is the largest in the U.S. with $700 billion in assets and $200 billion in annual revenue. Most electric bills include a tax for an escrow account set aside to pay for the retirement, tear-down and disposal (decommissioning) of power reactors. Today, 66 U.S. reactors are short a total of $14 billion for decommissioning, between $200 to $300 million per reactor.
Ratepayers will be picking up the tab for the NRC oversight long after the reactors are shut down. When Trojan closed, it had only $43 million of the $198 million needed. Maine Yankee had $188 million of the $357 million it required, and Zion 1 and 2 had collected $362 million of the $834 million needed for their shutdown.
Few of the 76 reactors have collected funds at a rate that would pay for decommissioning, and the NRC does not include all related expenses when it estimates decommissioning costs. In the U.S., not a single reactor has operated through its full licensing term.
Some economists have predicted that half of U.S. reactors will be retired early due to poor economic perfrmance and deregulation of the power industry. In California for instance, customers can now choose an electricity provider. None of those predicted to close early will have sufficient decommissioning funds on hand.
-U.S. General Accounting Office, RCED-99-75, May, 1999.