President Obama announced this morning that the federal government will guarantee $8 billion in loans for two new nuclear reactors of an untested design in Georgia. With the federal blessing, the pair could become the first new reactors built in the country in nearly 30 years.*
At a Maryland headquarters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Obama said it was “only the beginning” — that his new budget would triple the federal money available for other reactors to come. He cast his decision in economic, supra-partisan terms.
“On an issue which affects our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, we cannot continue to be mired in the same old debates between left and right; between environmentalists and entrepreneurs,” he said.
“Our competitors are racing to create jobs and command growing energy industries. … And the commitment of these other countries isn’t just generating jobs; it’s generating demand for expertise and new technologies. Make no mistake: whether it is nuclear energy, or solar or wind energy, if we fail to invest in these technologies today, we’ll be importing them tomorrow."
The U.S. Department of Energy decision to back a new reactor design, one that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered refigured out of fears that strong winds could blow it over, bodes poorly for the NRG Energy/CPS Energy gamble on an already approved, older design for new reactors in South Texas.
Writes Katherine Ling at The New York Times:
Southern estimates the two new reactors will cost $14.5 billion. Under the loan guarantee program, the government may guarantee up to 80 percent of a nuclear project's cost, but the recipient must pay a percentage as a "credit subsidy" fee set by DOE and the Office of Management and Budget. The size of the credit subsidy fee has been the focus of squabbles among the government, industry and advocacy groups.
Details of the loan guarantee are still being finalized today, an industry source said.
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