Friends of the Earth statement on nuclear loan guarantee
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, E&E News reported that the Department of Energy’s loan guarantees for the first new nuclear reactors in more than 30 years were awarded without making the recipient companies pay a project subsidy cost. Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which established the loan guarantee program, requires that the government receive “from the borrower a payment in full for the cost of the obligation,” yet DOE awarded $6.5 billion in guarantees for two reactors at Plant Vogtle in February without charging the fee. The credit subsidy fees had not been revealed until now.
Ben Schreiber, Climate and energy program director at Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement in response:
I’m shocked that President Obama gave away the entire farm to the nuclear industry. Not charging a fee was irresponsible and illegal. He has treated nuclear reactors as risk-free, when 32 percent of all nuclear construction is cancelled before one watt of electricity is produced; and the Vogtle reactors are already 21 months behind schedule and more than a billion dollars over budget. This giveaway is even more egregious because safe technologies like wind and solar are available and cheaper.
When a homeowner receives federal mortgage insurance, they are expected to pay monthly premiums, without fail, for that insurance. Yesterday it came out that President Obama has provided a preemptive bailout to two risky and expensive nuclear reactors, free of charge.
This decision highlights the weak economics of nuclear reactors and President Obama’s desperation to build them anyway. New reactors simply are not being built without government support. Subsidized government financing for Plant Vogtle — atop other government subsidies such as Price-Anderson support, the nuclear production tax credit and accelerated depreciation — has U.S. taxpayers bearing the financial burden for these risky and dangerous projects. Nuclear reactors will never be clean and they have no place as part of a strategy for dealing with climate change.