WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy today offered the first conditional federal loan guarantee for new nuclear plant construction to Southern Co. for two advanced reactors at the Plant Vogtle power station in eastern Georgia. Following is a statement from Marvin Fertel, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s president and chief executive officer.
“The nuclear industry commends the Obama administration and the Department of Energy for having reached this major milestone in implementing the clean-energy loan guarantee program authorized by Congress in 2005. This first conditional commitment demonstrates the Administration’s recognition that new nuclear power plants must be part of America’s clean energy portfolio.
“The industry also congratulates Southern Company for its receipt of the first conditional loan guarantee for a new nuclear power plant, and for its leadership in responding to America’s need for reliable electricity supplies that drive economic growth while meeting increasingly stringent environmental requirements.
“This loan guarantee, and others to follow, will act as a catalyst to accelerate construction of new nuclear plants and other low- and non-emitting sources of electricity. By easing access to capital markets for electric companies seeking to build new reactors and reducing the cost of capital for clean-energy projects, loan guarantees reduce the cost of electricity to consumers—a significant win-win proposition in these difficult economic times.
“Loan guarantees also will have far-reaching economic multiplier effects. They send a strong signal to companies throughout the nuclear supply chain to expand their manufacturing capacity for growing domestic as well as overseas markets.
“We’ve already seen the results of the early preparation for building nuclear plants. Over the past few years, more than 15,000 new jobs have been created in the nuclear energy sector. U.S. manufacturers of components for nuclear power plants and fuel cycle facilities are adding to design and engineering staff, expanding their capability to manufacture components, and building new manufacturing facilities in Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana and other states.
“Today’s announcement of the conditional commitment with Southern Co. is one of a number of steps taken by the Obama Administration to support nuclear energy expansion. Other steps include:
The fiscal 2011 federal budget request includes a tripling of DOE’s loan guarantee authority for new reactors, adding $36 billion to last year’s $18.5 billion appropriation, for a total of $54.5 billion. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said this would provide federal backing for seven to 10 new nuclear power plants.
A change to the regulations governing the loan guarantee program, which allowed clean-energy projects to tap other sources of financing side-by-side with the DOE-guaranteed debt; and
The recent award of investment tax credits to Shaw Modular Solutions and Alstom to build new facilities to manufacture components for advanced-design nuclear power plants.
“Increasing the loan guarantee authority is critical to accelerate deployment of the dozens of new reactors needed to meet rising electricity demand and stem the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.”
NOTE: The conditional loan guarantee announced today will become a final loan guarantee agreement when the Vogtle project receives its combined construction and operating license, which is currently scheduled to be issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in late 2011. Southern Nuclear Operating Co. received an early site permit and authorization for site preparation from the NRC in 2009, and has started site preparation.