Energy Department announces billions more in federal nuclear loan guarantees
In an effort to buoy the only remaining new nuclear construction projection in the country, Southern Company’s sinking Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project in Georgia, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced conditional approval of an additional $3.7 billion in federal taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees. This is on top of the $8.3 billion in loan guarantees that utility project partners already secured. The DOE reportedly offered an additional $1.67 billion to Southern Co.'s Georgia Power, $1.6 billion to Oglethorpe Power Corp. and $415 million to the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.
"The Department of Energy’s announcement to dole out even more corporate welfare at taxpayers’ expense for a failing project is tremendously frustrating," said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. "By authorizing this loan, Secretary Perry is extending the swamp from Washington, DC down to Georgia. We are astonished that utility giant Southern Company and its partners are getting yet another amazing sweetheart deal while taxpayers bear all the risk. Given the cancellation of the V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina, it is uneconomic to complete these two reactors and unfair to utility ratepayers and U.S. taxpayers to be forced to subsidize a sinking ship.”
"The government shouldn't be picking winners and losers - the market should decide," said Debbie Dooley, president of Conservatives for Energy Freedom. "And Big Energy, especially utility monopolies like Georgia Power, has too much influence as it is. Plant Vogtle is a loser if it had to compete in the marketplace like any other business. We should not bail out irresponsibility."
Since the original $8.3 billion in loan guarantees were offered in 2010, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) filed extensive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and went to court twice to force DOE to unearth important details on the risks posed to U.S. taxpayers if the Plant Vogtle nuclear project should default -- a reality that plays a large role in the nuclear industry’s history. Read more here.