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Texas nuclear power plants seek new workforce
Houston Chronicle ^ | January 14, 2014 | Jim Malewitz, Texas Tribune

Posted on 01/14/2014 5:36:39 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife

"....Not everyone is equipped to operate and maintain a reactor, or to monitor radiation levels inside a plant and on its own employees. Nuclear energy officials feared they would soon lack the manpower to operate the country's current reactors as their licenses were renewed, let alone the new ones.

"It's at all levels, from the managers on down,"Koehl said of his company's needs, adding that specialty engineers and people with other industry-tailored skills are particularly hard to find.

That includes Jesse Wells, who has coordinated 18 of STP's planned outages, the monthlong powering down of a reactor to refuel it and perform thousands of maintenance operations—a process that happens once every year and a half.

Wells, who came to STP after spending years working with the Navy's nuclear program and has stayed for three decades, is set to leave in May in what he calls the plant's first wave of retirements.

Wells, 57, said he was anxious about the move but only on a personal level. He had no doubts, he said, that someone capable would fill his job. Still, he put off postponing his initial retirement plans to work one last outage alongside his successor.

Company officials have unleashed an aggressive plan to transfer knowledge within the company, and to educate students to fill voids left by retirement.

The company, Matagorda County's biggest employer, is mostly looking in its backyard. In the last six years, it has spent millions of dollars designing the curriculum at local high schools and community colleges and awarding scholarships to students in the area.

Graduates of the two-year nuclear power technology degree program at Wharton County Junior College, for instance, can expect to earn starting salaries of $65,000 to $70,000 if plant officials, who closely monitor enrollment, offer them jobs.

"We're trying to homegrow as much as we can," Koehl said........."

(Excerpt) Read more at chron.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Texas
KEYWORDS: employment; energy; jobs; nuclearpower; powerplantworkers; workersneeded

1 posted on 01/14/2014 5:36:40 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

With such huge stores of cheap natural gas available, there is absolutely no reason that Texas should operate this obsolete and expensive source of electricity generation. Tear them down.


2 posted on 01/14/2014 5:39:23 AM PST by txrefugee
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To: txrefugee

Does it matter that the Texas grid was so strained that it almost shut down during last week’s bout of cold weather?


3 posted on 01/14/2014 5:46:33 AM PST by bagman
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To: txrefugee

I suspect STP will expand and build more units before it shuts down the existing ones.

US Natural Gas is not going to stay as cheap as the average over the last couple years.


4 posted on 01/14/2014 5:50:27 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: bagman
Does it matter that the Texas grid was so strained that it almost shut down during last week’s bout of cold weather?

The whole country needs to update the grid. We need skilled workers , and somehow I don't think we'll find them sneaking across the border.

5 posted on 01/14/2014 5:51:12 AM PST by YankeeReb
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Perfect example of the excellence of the american educational system


6 posted on 01/14/2014 5:51:56 AM PST by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
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To: txrefugee
With such huge stores of cheap natural gas available, there is absolutely no reason that Texas should operate this obsolete and expensive source of electricity generation.

We need to take advantage of *every* energy resource available to us...and that included nuclear and coal.Fukishima taught us that it *might* not be wise to place nuke plants in known earthquake zones...particularly those located in coastal areas.However,although I very seldom sing the praises of the Europeans they *do* get close to half their electricity from nuke plants and it seems to work well for them.

Oil....natural gas.....nuclear....coal....hydroelectric...we must use it *all*!

7 posted on 01/14/2014 5:57:16 AM PST by Gay State Conservative (Osama Obama Care: A Religion That Will Have You On Your Knees!)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
For those unfamiliar with the location, the circles are 10 & 50 mile radius.


8 posted on 01/14/2014 5:59:52 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: Gay State Conservative
I very seldom sing the praises of the Europeans they *do* get close to half their electricity from nuke plants and it seems to work well for them.

So easy, even the French can do it!

9 posted on 01/14/2014 6:01:18 AM PST by uglybiker (nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-BATMAN!)
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To: Gay State Conservative
More like a quarter.

Figure 2: EU 27 Electricity production by source, 2012

click graph for source

10 posted on 01/14/2014 6:02:59 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: uglybiker

The Pepsi Syndrome, Saturday Night Live, 1979 (When SNL was still good)
http://snltranscripts.jt.org/78/78ppepsi.phtml
Where have you gone Jimmy Carter??...


11 posted on 01/14/2014 6:05:08 AM PST by citizen (There is always free government cheese in the mouse trap.....https://twitter.com/kracker0)
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To: txrefugee

I haven’t looked in detail but the current mix of generation is somewhere less
than 60% natural gas. Coal is the largest generator fuel of the non natural gas units.


12 posted on 01/14/2014 6:05:37 AM PST by deport
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To: Cincinatus' Wife

Each fuel source has its disadvantages.

For natural gas, it’s that you can’t store it at the plant site; making electricty supply immediately vulnerable to pipeline failure.


13 posted on 01/14/2014 6:18:35 AM PST by cicero2k
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To: cicero2k

In Texas at least, many Nat Gas power plants have multiple pipeline sources. I’ve done pipeline manifold and metering station work a few.


14 posted on 01/14/2014 6:28:09 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: YankeeReb

The EPA and DOE prevented us from building any nuke plants since the 70’s. NO excuses for this. The technology is proven and would go far to alleviate the need for oil and gas so it can be used elsewhere.


15 posted on 01/14/2014 7:28:29 AM PST by Resolute Conservative
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To: txrefugee
With such huge stores of cheap natural gas available, there is absolutely no reason that Texas should operate this obsolete and expensive source of electricity generation.

Even with currently cheep natural gas, nuclear electricity still costs less.


16 posted on 01/14/2014 7:48:44 AM PST by Ditto
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To: Resolute Conservative
The EPA and DOE prevented us from building any nuke plants since the 70’s. NO excuses for this.

Apparently you are not aware that there are four new nuclear plants under construction in the United States right now.

Go here to see a construction update for two plants in South Carolina.

and Go here for information on the two new plants in Georgia.

17 posted on 01/14/2014 8:17:21 AM PST by Ditto
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Iowa State used to have a nuclear engineering program. It got canceled years ago because of lack of demand outside the Navy.

There are few plants being built, and many shutting down. Japan's fun has convinced many countries that a nuke plant is to risky.

18 posted on 01/14/2014 8:30:31 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Ditto

How’s the permitting going?

MidAmerican was going to build one in Iowa. After Japan the EPA canceled the permits.


19 posted on 01/14/2014 8:32:34 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: redgolum
How’s the permitting going?

They are already permitted. Back in the 90's the NRC changed their licensing procedures. Before then, a utility would need a construction license first. Then after construction was done, they had to apply for an operating license. That second step was where the anti-nukes tossed in the monkey wrenches causing long delays and demanding all sorts major modifications. They could tie things up in courts and in regulatory hearings for years, literally attempting to bankrupt the utilities.

Now the NRC issues a combined construction/operating license. As long as the plant is built to the approved design, it does not require a second license to begin operations. The design of these four plants is the Westinghouse AP-1000, and it has been fully approved by the NRC.

MidAmerican was going to build one in Iowa. After Japan the EPA canceled the permits.

MidAmerican changed their mind on building, but according to this article, the NRC had nothing to do with it.

20 posted on 01/14/2014 9:09:29 AM PST by Ditto
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To: Ditto

Interesting. This is local to me (Muscatine is a few miles away).

Lets just say that isn’t what some of the contractors working for MidAm told me.


21 posted on 01/14/2014 9:16:34 AM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
This guy has experience


22 posted on 01/14/2014 9:24:12 AM PST by xp38
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To: redgolum

According to this article, MidAmerican did not even approach the NRC about building a plant. They worked with the state PUC in exploring the possibility of a new nuke, looked at potential sites, but they never even selected a design nor asked for permits. It looks like the NRC had zero to do with it.

23 posted on 01/14/2014 9:42:57 AM PST by Ditto
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To: Resolute Conservative

You left out the environmentalists and their lawyers.


24 posted on 01/14/2014 9:51:48 AM PST by listenhillary (Courts, law enforcement, roads and national defense should be the extent of government)
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To: Ditto
Separately, MidAmerican said its recently announced plan to build additional wind generation would help keep customers' costs down. If approved by state regulators, the wind expansion will reduce customer rates by $10 million a year by 2017, starting with a $3.3 million decrease in 2015.

Do the winds on the plains blow in a particularly favorable manner for wind generation?

T. Boone Pickins was hot to go on a $4+ billion wind farm in West Texas. I guess the fracking/natural gas developments changed the economic equation for him. Or maybe he was angling for taxpayer subsidies, I can't quite remember.

25 posted on 01/14/2014 11:36:00 AM PST by citizen (There is always free government cheese in the mouse trap.....https://twitter.com/kracker0)
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To: txrefugee

Texas doesn’t even have enough electricity for winter, much less this coming summer. We need about a dozen new nuke plants.


26 posted on 01/14/2014 5:20:00 PM PST by PAR35
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