Nuclear Energy’s Answer Has Some Problems •
Federal Assistance Requested for Storm Damaged Southern lllinois Counties •
Beware of Counterfeit Electrical Products •
Flooding Disaster Creates Home Improvement Opportunity
Nuclear Energy’s Answer Has Some Problems
Even many environmentalists have decided that we need more nuclear power plants to meet the growing demand for energy and lower carbon dioxide levels. The cost of the proposed carbon tax now before Congress will not impact nuclear power generation. Nuclear power, however, still has incredible challenges to overcome.
The Edison Electric Institute says energy demand in this country will increase by 30 percent by 2030. To meet that challenge and avoid brownouts and blackouts we need to build 100 new nuclear power plants over the next 20 years. The cost? At least $700 billion, probably more.
Unfortunately, many nuclear projects become black holes where cost overruns and delays are normal. In Finland, for example, a nuclear project rose from an estimated $4.2 billion to $8 billion and it is still not online.
Unfortunately, the time it takes to build a nuclear plant has doubled from five years to 10 years and half of the 45 nuclear plants under construction worldwide have been delayed.
Investors are concerned that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission could mire the licensing process in red tape. And the not-in-my-backyard problem could bog down the process in the courts for years making the nuclear option cost prohibitive.
“Climate change may be the inconvenient problem, but nuclear power is the inconvenient answer,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) in a speech before the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “Right now there are 17 proposals for 26 new reactors in licensing hearings before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. That’s a start. But I think we need to go well beyond that.”
Federal Assistance Requested for Storm Damaged Southern lllinois Counties
Governor Pat Quinn in June requested federal assistance to help people, businesses, local governments and electrical cooperatives recover from a devastating storm that hit parts of southern Illinois on May 8. The storm uprooted thousands of trees, causing widespread power outages and blocking countless roads and highways. At least 260 homes in a five-county area were destroyed or suffered major damage, and storm-related costs to state and local governments and electrical cooperatives are expected to top $26 million.
“After seeing the devastation myself and reviewing the documentation compiled by our assessment teams, it’s obvious that federal assistance is needed to help these communities recover,” Gov. Quinn said. “I’m urging President Obama to act quickly on this request to speed the recovery process.”
In a letter to President Obama, Gov. Quinn requested federal assistance for local governments in Franklin, Gallatin, Jackson, Randolph, Saline and Williamson counties. If approved, local government bodies in those counties could receive reimbursement for 75 percent of their extraordinary storm-related expenses, including overtime costs and repair or replacement of storm-damaged public property.
The assessments showed that at least 69 residences were destroyed and another 191 were uninhabitable without major repairs. In addition, the cost to local governments, the electric cooperatives and state agencies for emergency response, debris removal and the repair or replacement of property is estimated to exceed $26 million.
“The number of trees and power lines brought down by this storm was unbelievable,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III. “The State of Illinois is continuing to help with the massive cleanup effort so that life in these communities can return to normal as quickly as possible.”
Beware of Counterfeit Electrical Products
A “fake” purse or watch may make you angry, but they don’t carry the risk of injury or death. On the other hand, counterfeit electrical products can be dangerous. Counterfeit circuit breakers, power strips, extension cords, batteries and holiday lights can cause fires, explosions, shocks and electrocutions.
In recent years, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled more than 1 million counterfeit electrical products, including circuit breakers that did not trip when overloaded, cell phone batteries without a safety device in the circuitry to prevent overcharging and extension cords with mislabeled, undersized wiring that overheated.
Counterfeits can be extremely difficult to spot. They could be a knock-off of a name-brand product, or bear an unauthorized certification marking. Here are some tips to protect you from the dangers of counterfeit electrical products:
• Scrutinize the product, packaging and labeling. Look for certification marks from the manufacturer and an independent testing laboratory — such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). Trademarked logos that look different than usual may signal a counterfeit.
• If the price is “too good to be true,” it could be because the product is inferior and unsafe.
• Be careful when buying from an unknown source, such as a street vendor. Use established stores who purchase their goods from legitimate distributors and genuine manufacturers.
• Check the warning label. It should be free of grammatical errors and not conflict with information elsewhere on the package.
• Avoid no-name products.
• Look for the name and contact information of the manufacturer. If you find the information missing, consider purchasing electrical products elsewhere.
Sources: Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC); Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI)
Flooding Disaster Creates Home Improvement Opportunity
A recently completed remodeling project in Munster, Ind. is the first home remodel to earn certification under the National Green Building Standard, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announced in May.
The 1,100-square-foot ranch home built in 1974 was renovated by Lyng Builders, a Franklin, Ill., custom home building and remodeling company, after floodwaters filled the basement as well as two feet of the first floor.
Working within a tight budget to repair substantial structural damage, Lyng Builders also persuaded the homeowner to make improvements that can help save on utility bills by decreasing energy and water consumption and to obtain national green certification through the NAHB Research Center, which trains and accredits third-party inspectors.
Lyng Builders upgraded the heating and cooling system, installed a high-efficiency water heater, selected Energy Star®-rated appliances, added wall and pipe insulation and thoroughly sealed the home against air and energy leaks to produce an estimated 49 percent decrease in energy consumption from the pre-remodeled home.
Homeowner Steve Holcomb can also take advantage of additional savings with the federal energy-efficiency tax credit for products used in the renovation.
Approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in January, the ICC-700-2008 National Green Building Standard sets benchmarks and a verification protocol for single-family homes, apartments and condominiums, remodeling, lot and site development and all kinds of residential construction.
Learn more about green remodeling from NAHB Remodelers at www.nahb.org/remodel.