Vogtle nuclear loan guarantee puts taxpayers at risk
*This press release was revised for accuracy on January 31, 2014 at 12:30 p.m.*
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A day after President Obama focused on his troubling “all of the above” energy plan in the State of the Union Address, Reuters reports that Georgia Power has delivered documents to finalize a long-delayed loan guarantee to the Department of Energy. The loan guarantee for Georgia Power and another intended for Oglethorpe Power Company would support construction of two new nuclear reactors at the Plant Vogtle Nuclear Generating Station near Waynesboro, Ga. The new deadline for the DOE to finalize the Georgia Power and Oglethorpe deals is the end of February.
A separate agreement guaranteeing $1.8 billion is still being negotiated with a third Vogtle partner,* the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, known as MEAG. MEAG has until July 31, 2014 to complete its negotiations with the DOE.
The government isn’t only negotiating loan guarantees for Vogtle: it will also be the lending institution. The $8.3 billion loan package will come directly from the Federal Treasury, meaning that taxpayers would be 100 percent liable in the event of a default.
According to Friends of the Earth’s Nuclear subsidies campaigner Katherine Fuchs, “DOE’s implementation of the program has been shrouded in secrecy. It required a Freedom of Information Act request and then litigation to get them to reveal that the credit subsidy fees being paid by the Vogtle partners are far too low.”
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 32 percent of all reactor construction is cancelled before any electricity is produced. “The high failure rate of nuclear construction projects, the fact that Vogtle is already $1.6 billion over budget,” said Fuchs “and the loan guarantee’s insufficient credit subsidy fees all add up to a huge risk for taxpayers.”
While the Title XVII loan guarantee program is most famous for backing Solyndra, DOE is currently moving forward with loan guarantees for dirty projects such as nuclear reactors and fossil fuels.
Fuchs said “President Obama’s support for nuclear reactors is yet another example of why all of the above is a pathway to climate catastrophe. Nuclear and fossil energy cannot be part of a climate solution. With budgets being cut funds will do more if they invested in truly clean, renewable energy technology. Nuclear power is too slow, expensive and dirty to be a reliable climate solution. Taxpayers cannot afford to waste money on false solutions like Vogtle; instead, we need to be investing in real solutions like wind, solar and energy efficiency.”
* Georgia Power (Southern Company subsidiary) 45.7 percent of Vogtle units #3 & #4, Oglethorpe Power Corporation 30 percent, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia 22.7 percent, City of Dalton, Ga., 1.6 percent