Saturday, February 13, 2010

Obama Gives Loan Guarantees For Nuclear Power Plants

FULL STATEMENT: at IBEW Local 26, Lanham, Maryland

President Barack Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to help Atlanta-based Southern Company build two new reactors at an existing Vogtle plant in Burke County, Georgia. The Southern Company is the first company selected to receive the Department of Energy loan guarantees to build nuclear reactors. He made the announcement at an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training center in Lanham, Maryland.

Loan guarantees for other sites are expected to be announced in the coming months. The Southern Company has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a construction and operating license for the plant, one of 13 such applications the agency is considering. The Southern Company has begun site preparation in Burke, but cannot begin construction without NRC approval. It costs about $90 million dollars to get the license.

President Obama called for building new nuclear power plants in his January 27 State of the Union speech, and followed that by proposing to triple loan guarantees for new nuclear plants from the current $18.5 billion to $54.5 billion (an addition of $36 billion). The $54.5 bilion is enough to help build six or seven new nuclear plants, which can cost $8 billion to $10 billion each.

The loan guarantees were authorized by the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The Center attended the signing of the EPA of 2005 as a Special Guest of the White House. The Energy Department is negotiating with other projects. The Scana Corporation and Santee Cooper are proposing to build a nuclear plant in Jenkinsville, S.C., and UniStar is planning a reactor in Maryland at the site of the current Calvert Cliffs reactors.

Traditionally antinuclear environmental groups will now condemn President Obama when he has been the biggest friend to traditional alternative energy technologies in the history of the United States. The Center supports nuclear power and we salute President Obama for his bold vision for America's energy future. (Financial Times, Forbes/AP)

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