Stop $8.3 Billion Taxpayer Loan for New Nuclear Reactors

Posted by in Environment, politics

Vogtle nuclear power station Cooling Towers

Vogtle nuclear power station Cooling Towers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Big news on Vogtle loan–your actions now can stop it

March 30, 2012

Dear Friends,

This is big. The $8.3 Billion taxpayer loan for construction of two new reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia, the centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s support for the “nuclear renaissance,” may be blocked–by the Obama Administration.

Please act now and tell President Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu to stop these loans for good. And please help us spread the word–in this case, our numbers really matter.

Here’s the background: According to an article today from the industry publication Platt’s, the nuclear industry is growing increasingly worried that the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will not give final approval for the Vogtle loan. That’s because the nuclear industry wants a sweetheart deal–one where Southern Company has to put up virtually none of its own money and where all financial risk for the loan is laid squarely on the shoulder of taxpayers.

But both OMB and DOE have come under scathing criticism, especially from Congressional Republicans, over the failure of the Solyndra solar company loan granted by the Administration. And the proposed Vogtle loan would be 15 times larger (and far riskier) than the one given to Solyndra.

Thus, the Administration is being more cautious over the Vogtle loan than it would have been when first agreed to more than two years ago. And the more public scrutiny the Administration receives–and the more letters we send–the more likely that caution will lead to a cancellation of this loan. Our actions now matter–a lot.

A big step in more public scrutiny was obtained yesterday, as our friends at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy won a court victory against the Department of Energy that will force DOE to disclose at least some of the terms of the Vogtle loan.

Another big blow to the economics of the Vogtle project, and thus the financial viability of the loan, was delivered yesterday by John Rowe, the recently-retired Chairman of the Exelon Corporation, the nation’s largest nuclear utility. He said unequivocally that new nuclear reactors “don’t make any sense right now.” Rowe was a major contributor and campaign “bundler” to the 2008 Obama campaign, and his words carry a lot of weight at the White House.

Don’t forget there is precedence: the only other loan for new reactor construction offered by the Obama Adminstration was for the proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 reactor in Maryland. The terms of that loan were rejected by Constellation Energy, helping lead to Constellation’s withdrawal from the project.

In Vogtle’s case, Georgia ratepayers are already paying for the Vogtle reactors through the state’s early cost recovery law. But an Obama Administration assessment that the taxpayer loan is too economically risky could also cause re-examination of that state law.

We need to assure that the Administration feels public pressure to protect taxpayers and avoid another Solyndra, and to reject the sweetheart deal that Southern Company wants.

The strength of our actions now could determine the fate of new nuclear power in the U.S. Please act, please encourage everyone else to act too.

International friends: we encourage you to support our struggle and send your letters in as well.

And all friends: we survive only with your support. Please make a small contribution, but only after sending your letter!

Thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

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