When nuclear power plant
s reach the end of their life cycles, typically about 40-50 years, they are shut down and cleaned up in a process called "decommissioning." This costs money.
In some areas, such as California, a decommissioning fee, approved by State and Federal agencies, was included in customer electric rates. Ratepayers have been charged this fee since the plants were constructed. Here's what my utility tells me about this charge:
As part of California's electric industry
restructuring legislation, state lawmakers ordered
that the costs of nuclear decommissioning will
continue to be recovered in customer rates as a
separately identified charge even after deregulation, in order to ensure public health and safety.
What my utility doesn't mention is that state lawmakers did this only after intense lobbying
by said utility, which wanted to recoup
losses from unprofitable
investments in nuclear energy
. So that now, after deregulation, where I have chosen a different energy provider (who has no investments in nuclear energy, profitable or not), I am still charged every month
to pay for the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant owned by a company
that doesn't supply
me any energy