A Major Step Forward for U.S. Nuclear Power

By February 13, 2010Energy

Bloomberg, “Obama Said Set to Give Southern Co. Nuclear-Loan Aid

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama will announce Feb. 16 that Southern Co. will get a federal loan guarantee to build two nuclear reactors in Georgia, the first support awarded under a five-year-old law, an administration official said…[snip]

The financial commitment will be used to add two 1,150-megawatt reactors to Southern’s two-unit site south of Augusta, Georgia.

Bloomberg further reports that the Department of Energy has authority to award $18.5 billion in loan guarantees, “and the administration put Atlanta-based Southern at the top of a short list that also included Constellation Energy Group Inc., NRG Energy Inc. and Scana Corp.” More …

In his Jan. 27 State of the Union address, President Obama declared, “[To] create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives.  And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.” The President’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget called for tripling federal loan guarantees for the construction of new nuclear plants to $54.5 billion. From the OMB’s fact sheet:

Develop the Market for Clean Energy Technologies. The Budget substantially expands support for construction of new nuclear power plants by increasing the Department of Energy loan guarantees authority for such projects by $36 billion, to a total of $54.5 billion, and provides credit subsidy funding of $500 million to support $3 to $5 billion of loan guarantees for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  The loan guarantee program will encourage new nuclear facilities and a range of renewable energy projects that reduce greenhouse gases and pollutants, while simultaneously creating jobs and contributing to long-term economic growth.

 UPDATE (1:40 p.m.): The two new units are planned for Plant Vogtle. According to Southern’s fact sheet, the company has chosen the light-water Westinghouse AP1000 technology for the proposed units.  More than 40 new nuclear plants are under construction in 12 countries around the world — almost all using light-water reactor technology.

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