Two new nuclear power plants in the USA are set to receive loan guarantees as the Obama Administration attempts to jumpstart the country’s nuclear renaissance.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that it has offered conditional commitments totalling $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of two new nuclear units in Burke, Georgia. The plants are scheduled to be the first nuclear power units to break ground in the USA in nearly three decades.
The two new 1100 MW Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia will supplement the two existing reactor units at the facility. Project sponsors include Georgia Power Company, Oglethorpe Power Corporation, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the City of Dalton, Georgia.
“This is a significant step by the Obama Administration to restart our domestic nuclear industry, helping to create valuable long-term jobs and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said.
The nuclear facility is eligible for loan guarantees because it achieves substantial environmental benefits by reducing greenhouse gases and other pollutants. In addition, the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor has incorporated numerous innovations resulting in significant operational, safety, and cost enhancements, says the DOE.
“To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we need to increase our supply of nuclear power and today’s announcement helps to move us down that path,” said President Barack Obama. “What I hope this announcement underscores is both our commitment to meeting the energy challenge – and our willingness to look at this challenge not as a partisan issue, but as a matter far more important than politics.”
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the DOE to issue loan guarantees for projects that avoid anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and employ new or significantly-improved technologies as compared to technologies in service in the United States at the time the guarantee is issued. These are the first conditional commitments for loan guarantees to be offered by the DOE for a nuclear power facility since enactment of the 2005 law.