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 »
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
“We haven’t seen a true leftist since FDR, so many millions are coming out of the woodwork to vote for Bernie Sanders; he is the Occupy movement now come to life in the political arena.” So says Bill Maher in his Hollywood Reporter cover story (more a stream-of-consciousness riff than an essay, actually). Conservative states may never vote for a socialist in the general election, but “this stuff has never been on the table, and these voters have never been activated.” Maher saves most of his bile for Donald Trump and Sarah Palin, writing that by nominating Palin as vice president “John McCain is the one who opened the Book of the Dead and let the monsters out.” And Trump is picking up where Palin left off.