WASHINGTON, D.C.—The grassroots organization Friends of the Earth has grossly misrepresented a proposal in the economic stimulus legislation to increase federal support for low-carbon energy sources. Among many other misrepresentations, Friends of the Earth asserts that the additional funding would be available only to the nuclear energy industry. This assertion is incorrect.
Senate appropriators on Jan. 28 approved $50 billion in loan guarantee authority for all energy projects that avoid, reduce or store air pollutants or greenhouse gases and employ new or significantly improved technologies. Among the projects eligible for this funding are:
Renewable energy systems
Advanced fossil energy technology
Hydrogen fuel cells
Advanced nuclear energy facilities
Energy efficiency programs
Hybrid or diesel vehicles
Carbon capture or storage technology
Friends of the Earth also failed to point out in a Jan. 28 news release that Senate appropriators approved an additional $95 billion in loan guarantee authority earmarked solely for commercially proven renewable energy projects and the transmission lines necessary to bring that renewable energy to market. The stimulus legislation approved by the House on Wednesday also provides an $80-billion increase in loan guarantees earmarked solely for renewables and transmission.
“It is unfortunate that Friends of the Earth is making these misrepresentations,” said Marvin Fertel, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s acting president and chief executive officer.
“Our nation faces major energy and environmental challenges, and all credible analysis demonstrates unequivocally that we must deploy a portfolio of technologies – including renewables, nuclear power and aggressive energy efficiency programs and more – to meet U.S. energy needs, reduce carbon emissions and preserve national security. The $38.5 billion in loan guarantees already authorized is clearly not enough to cover the number of projects that deserve support, so the additional $50 billion authorized by the Senate Appropriations Committee is both necessary and appropriate.”
Friends of the Earth asserts that new nuclear power plant development will not create near-term jobs – another egregious falsehood.
Since 2007, companies have filed permits with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build up to 26 new reactors. At the end of 2008, private investment in new nuclear power plants – and in manufacturing facilities to support new nuclear plant construction – has created an estimated 14,000 to 15,000 jobs. Over the past several years, the nuclear industry has invested more than $4 billion in new nuclear plant development, and plans to invest approximately $8 billion in the next several years to be in a position to start construction in 2011-2012. This near-term job creation is the leading edge of a larger surge in job creation the medium- to long-term (2011 and beyond) as the first wave of these new nuclear projects starts construction.
Job creation in the nuclear energy sector is comparable to jobs created in the renewable energy sector. Investment tax credits, production tax credits and loan guarantees for wind and solar energy have resulted in the creation of 14,000 jobs in the wind industry during 2007 and 2008 and 15,000 jobs in the solar industry during the same period.
Fertel said he welcomes the opportunity to meet with the leaders of Friends of the Earth to discuss energy funding
The pace of new clean energy development, including new renewable energy facilities and new nuclear power plants, and of job creation in the clean energy sector, depends on the financing support available from the federal government – particularly in today’s tight credit markets.
State utility regulators, in a Jan. 26 letter to leaders on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the proposed increased in loan guarantee authority is appropriate for “reducing the cost to consumers by lowering the cost of capital to utilities and other entities that are contemplating zero- or low-carbon energy generation projects.”
The letter from National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President
Frederick Butler said that given the cost of building new energy facilities, “it is appropriate for the federal government to assist in assuring the efficient and cost-effective financing and construction of new, clearer generation technologies” such as nuclear, advanced coal, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Many of the companies planning to build new nuclear plants also are developing renewable energy projects and energy efficiency programs as part of a portfolio approach to meeting growing electricity demand. Florida-based FPL Group, for example, has filed a license application to add two reactors at its Turkey Point site in South Florida. The company operates the third-largest nuclear energy program in the nation and also is the largest generator in North America of renewable energy from the wind and sun.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized the Department of Energy to provide loan guarantees to projects that reduce, avoid or sequester greenhouse gas emissions. The program provides essential financing support for clean energy projects, including renewable energy, energy efficiency projects and advanced nuclear power plants.
The existing clean energy loan guarantee program is authorized at $38.5 billion in the 2009 fiscal year. Of this, $18.5 billion is for renewable energy, $18.5 billion is for advanced nuclear power projects, $2 billion for nuclear fuel facilities, and the balance is for advanced coal-based technologies and other systems. The Department of Energy has issued solicitations requesting loan guarantee applications for loan guarantees from nuclear power projects, renewable energy and efficiency projects, advanced coal-based projects, and nuclear fuel facilities.
i. Source: American Wind Energy Association, Jan. 9, 2009 news release
ii. Source: Solar Energy Industries Association, Jan. 9, 2009 news release
Nuclear Power Plants Provide More Jobs Than Other Sources of Electricity (jobs per 1000 megawatts of generating capacity)
Source: Ventyx (numbers are averages)
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. Additional information about nuclear energy is available at www.nei.org.