Feds guarantee $3.7 billion more in loans for Vogtle

[private]The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to approve an additional $3.7 billion in loan guarantees for the floundering Plant Vogtle nuclear project.

Georgia Power will receive $1.67 billion of that loan amount, Oglethorpe Power Corp. will get $1.6 billion, and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia will get $415 million.

The $3.7 billion in loan guarantees is in addition to $8.3 billion the DOE had already approved several years ago.

The new loan guarantees were announced Friday by Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose agency is committing the money despite the fact that the Vogtle project is more than $3 billion over budget and more than four years behind schedule.

“I believe the future of nuclear energy in the United States is bright and looks forward to expanding American leadership in innovative nuclear technologies,” Perry said.

“Advanced nuclear energy projects like Vogtle are the kind of important energy infrastructure projects that support a reliable and resilient grid, promote economic growth, and strengthen our energy and national security,” Perry added.

Environmental groups and alternative energy organizations criticized the federal decision to pour more money into the project.

“By authorizing these loan guarantees, Secretary Perry continues the disturbing trend of regulators transferring enormous risk from utilities to ratepayers and taxpayers,” said Ted Terry, director of the Sierra Club’s Georgia chapter.

“It’s time the Public Service Commission stops this runaway nuclear train before customers pay an even higher price for more inevitable mismanagement and cost overruns,” Terry said.

“The Department of Energy’s announcement to dole out even more corporate welfare at taxpayers’ expense for a failing nuclear project in Georgia is outrageous,” said Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

“By authorizing this loan, Secretary Perry is extending the swamp from Washington, DC down to Georgia,” Smith said. “We are disappointed that Southern Company and its partners are taking another sweetheart deal from taxpayers.”

The Georgia PSC will soon hold hearings on whether construction work on the Vogtle reactors should go forward, although the commissioners have already said they support the project.

The Vogtle reactors are the only nuclear units still under construction in the U.S.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Department of Energy , Georgia Power , Plant Vogtle nuclear project , PSC