Energy Department to Approve Billions in Nuclear Backing

Aerial view of the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant. Existing reactors (#1 and #2, domed structures in center) and cooling towers (on the right). The construction site for reactors #3 and #4 is on the left.  
National Journal
Amy Harder
Feb. 18, 2014, 9:53 a.m.

En­ergy Sec­ret­ary Ern­est Mon­iz will an­nounce Wed­nes­day that he is giv­ing fi­nal ap­prov­al for a mult­i­bil­lion-dol­lar loan guar­an­tee for the first nuc­le­ar re­act­ors to be built in the U.S. in more than 30 years, ac­cord­ing to a source fa­mil­i­ar with the news.

The li­censee for the re­act­ors, South­ern Com­pany, re­ceived con­di­tion­al ap­prov­al of the $8.3 bil­lion loan guar­an­tee in Feb­ru­ary 2010. Once made fi­nal, the loan will help sup­port con­struc­tion of two new re­act­ors at the com­pany’s Vo­gtle plant in Waynes­boro, Ga.

The loan con­di­tion­ally ap­proved in 2010 was ac­tu­ally a set of three re­lated loan guar­an­tees, total­ing $8.3 bil­lion. Ac­cord­ing to an­oth­er source fa­mil­i­ar with the pro­ject, Mon­iz will an­nounce Wed­nes­day that two of the three loan guar­an­tees are go­ing to close on Thursday, total­ing $6.5 bil­lion. The last con­di­tion­al loan guar­an­tee, worth about $1.8 bil­lion, is still pending.

The En­ergy De­part­ment did not provide a com­ment on the re­cord.

Nuc­le­ar power ac­counts for about 20 per­cent of the na­tion’s elec­tri­city and re­leases no car­bon emis­sions, but the in­dustry has faced a host of reg­u­lat­ory, policy, polit­ic­al, and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges over the past few dec­ades.

The Three Mile Is­land in­cid­ent in 1979 largely slowed the once-prom­ised nuc­le­ar renais­sance in the coun­try, and in 2011 the Fukushi­ma Daii­chi nuc­le­ar dis­aster in Ja­pan set back the in­dustry glob­ally. Polit­ic­ally, some en­vir­on­ment­al groups and law­makers — mainly Demo­crats — don’t think nuc­le­ar power should be part of a clean-en­ergy mix giv­en the as­so­ci­ated risks and be­cause Wash­ing­ton is no closer to an­swer­ing the linger­ing ques­tion of where to store the nuc­le­ar waste.

Per­haps more than any of these con­cerns, however, cheap nat­ur­al gas has made it much more eco­nom­ic­ally dif­fi­cult for nuc­le­ar power, with its high up-front cap­it­al costs, to com­pete in the elec­tri­city mar­ket.

COR­REC­TION: An earli­er ver­sion of this story in­cor­rectly stated the amount of the loan guar­an­tee to be an­nounced Wed­nes­day. It is $6.5 bil­lion.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
When It Comes to Mining Asteroids, Technology Is Only the First Problem
20 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Obama Reflects on His Economic Record
21 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Reagan Families, Allies Lash Out at Will Ferrell
22 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."

Source:
PEAK CONFIDENCE
Clinton No Longer Running Primary Ads
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-ex­pec­ted primary battle be­hind her, former Sec­ret­ary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton (D) is no longer go­ing on the air in up­com­ing primary states. “Team Clin­ton hasn’t spent a single cent in … Cali­for­nia, In­di­ana, Ken­tucky, Ore­gon and West Vir­gin­ia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “cam­paign has spent a little more than $1 mil­lion in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone back­er in the Sen­ate, said the can­did­ate should end his pres­id­en­tial cam­paign if he’s los­ing to Hil­lary Clin­ton after the primary sea­son con­cludes in June, break­ing sharply with the can­did­ate who is vow­ing to take his in­sur­gent bid to the party con­ven­tion in Phil­adelphia.”

Source:
CITIZENS UNITED PT. 2?
Movie Based on ‘Clinton Cash’ to Debut at Cannes
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE

The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."

Source:
×