Friday, February 21, 2014

Obama Administration Committed to Nuclear Power Generation, Gives $6.5 Billion Loan Guarantee to Vogtle Reactor Construction

It's all for " low-carbon energy future", says Obama's Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Additional loan guarantee of $1.8 billion is still pending, according to the article below.

The Obama administration, in its quest for "low-carbon energy future", has invested and lost a fortune (taxpayers money) on dubious solar ventures (including infamous Solyndra). I guess the administration is now betting on a sure thing this time, on Toshiba/Westinghouse's A1000. The construction of two reactors using A1000 was approved by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in February 2012 (still under Dr. Gregory Jaczko, who cast the only dissenting vote).

(Conversely, Toshiba/Westinghouse has cleverly betted on a sure thing - national government that will print limitless amount of fiat money and collect money from the vast tax farm - the rest of us. Smart move.)

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (2/20/2014; emphasis is mine):

A $6.5B federal loan guarantee jolts Ga. nuclear power project

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Waynesboro, Ga. - The Obama administration signed off Thursday on a $6.5 billion loan guarantee to help Georgia utilities build the nation’s first new nuclear reactors in more than three decades.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz traveled to the sprawling Plant Vogtle site in east Georgia to announce the loan aid for Southern Co. and Oglethorpe Power. Another $1.8 billion loan for a third company involved in the plant, MEAG, is still in the works.

“This plant will be the economic engine for the state of Georgia,” said Georgia Power chief executive Paul Bowers. “We are proud to be the first utility to restart the nuclear renaissance here in America.”

The two nuclear reactors underway at Vogtle were supposed to be the first in a wave of new nuclear construction as part of a push toward cleaner energy when the Obama administration announced the aid in February 2010. But the boom never materialized.

Stalled efforts to limit carbon emissions, plunging natural gas prices and other stumbling blocks have delayed the loan four years and stalled a broader nuclear revival. Vogtle on Thursday became the first project to receive the federal loan guarantee since Congress established the program in 2005 to jolt the nuclear industry.

Critics pointed it out safety concerns surrounding nuclear power plants, and cited the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in the wake of an epic tsunami there.

“Fewer than three years have passed since the tragedy at Fukushima demonstrated that nuclear reactors can never be safe,” said Katherine Fuchs of Friends of the Earth. “Yet the president and energy secretary are ignoring its lessons.”

But Moniz said the federal guarantee is part of a broader “all of the above” effort to offer an range of alternative energy sources that could lower carbon emissions. He said he huddled with Georgia Power executives to reach a final agreement after years of delays.

“If we don’t move out with these kinds of projects, we won’t be ahead of the train,” said Moniz. “And we in the United States shouldn’t be running to catch up with the caboose.”

"Lessons" of Fukushima? What kind of lessons is Ms. Fuchs thinking of, I wonder, other than that "accidents can, and do happen at nuclear power plants".

But unless her organization starts to cite very specific lessons, Dr. Ernest Moniz will pay no attention, I'm afraid. It was Dr. Moniz who declared back in 2011 that "It would be a mistake, however, to let Fukushima cause governments to abandon nuclear power and its benefits."

But "ahead of the train", Mr. Secretary? To be run over by the train, you mean?

The Obama administration has already allocated nearly a half billion dollars for the small modular nuclear reactor development, the effort spearheaded by the world 2nd richest man Bill Gates.


Joffan said...

There's a small but important error in the headline here. The government _sold_ a loan guarantee to two of the partners in the Vogtle consortium - they did not "give" them it.

That's why it's taken 4 years to close the deal. The government started off at a price that would provide no benefit at all, in terms of reduced interest rates, and the usual overhead of additional government oversight.

By contrast, government loan guarantees were indeed "given" - without charge to the borrower - to anything-but-nuclear, in the same loan program. The cost of those guarantees was covered by another portion of the government budget, so no-one had any reason to negotiate the rate.

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