DBL Investors, a double bottom line venture capital firm, announced a report revealing that the California nuclear industry has received $8.21 billion in federal subsidies during the past 50 years.
The report, “Ask Saint Onofrio: Finding What Has Been Lost in A Tale of Two Energy Sources,” compares federal subsidies for nuclear energy to those provided for distributed solar energy.
Nuclear energy has received four times more federal support than distributed solar over a period six times as long. Solar is beginning to constitute a significant portion of installed capacity in California, although it has received less support than nuclear did in its earliest years. The closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) has reduced California’s in-state nuclear generation by nearly 50 percent.
The report examines the significance of the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act, which limits the costs for nuclear plants by shifting a portion of the liability for an accident from plant operators to taxpayers. Also detailed are decommissioning costs, which fall largely on ratepayers. In the case of San Onofre, closing estimates are in the range of $4.1 billion.
Saint Onofrio, or San Onofre in Spanish, is a Saint to whom people pray for help in finding lost things. The report concludes that Californians should ask Saint Onofrio what the rationale is for subsidizing mature and declining energy sources, such as his namesake’s power plant, while continuing to limit incentives for new, clean energy.
This report builds on “What Would Jefferson Do?: The Historical Role of Federal Subsidies in Shaping America’s Energy Future,” a DBL Investors report from 2011 that showed the crucial role federal subsidies have played in supporting emerging energy technologies and driving economic growth for 200 years. Contrary to popular belief, federal subsidy levels for alternative energy sources have been much lower than subsidies for traditional energy sources such as coal, gas and nuclear.