Loan Guarantees

New reactor construction is so expensive and unpredictable that no U.S. utility is willing to take the risk without the backing of federal loan guarantees, potentially in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Beyond Nuclear and others fight to prevent the mature nuclear industry from seizing any such subsidies which are better spent on true climate solutions such as renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.



Congressional Appropriations committees seen extending DOE loan program

As reported by Ari Natter in Bloomberg Politics:

Lawmakers have agreed, however, to continue a separate Obama-era loan program the Trump administration has sought to kill, the chairman, Representative Mike Simpson, said in an interview Tuesday after his appropriations subcommittee finished work on the bill.

...The Energy Department loan program, which has issued $465 million to automaker Tesla Inc. and provided $1.6 billion in loan guarantees for NRG Energy Inc.’s Ivanpah solar plant in Southern California, has been targeted for elimination by the administration for two years in a row. The program has been under fire from conservative critics since it famously backed a half-billion-dollar loan guarantee to failed solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC.

Although the Trump administration supposedly wants the DOE loan guarantee program ended, that didn't stop it from rushing through a $3.7 billion nuclear loan guarantee to prop up the failing Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactor construction project in Georgia, just a few months ago.

That was on top of a $8.3 billion nuclear loan guarantee awarded by President Obama's Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, in 2014, for a total of $12 billion in nuclear loan guarantee U.S. taxpayer funding at very high risk. This is 22 times the amount lost to U.S. taxpayers in the Solyndra solar default.

Several weeks ago, Moniz joined the board of Southern Nuclear, the builder of Vogtle 3 & 4. The unethical revolving door between government and industry reeks to high heaven.


"It's a go" at Plant Vogtle, despite $12 billion in federal taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees at risk of default

As Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has reported, the Georgia Public Service Commission has voted unanimously to proceed with the Vogtle 3 and 4 new reactor construction project in Waynesboro, GA, on the banks of the Savannah River, the state border with South Carolina.

In addition to the huge negative impact on Georgia ratepayers, who have been betrayed by the GA PSC ruling, there is the question of $12 billion in federal taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees.

The Obama administration's Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, Ernest Moniz, approved a whopping $8.3 billion in federal nuclear loan guarantees for Voglte 3 & 4, several years ago. He demanded a $0.00 credit subsidy fee. Thus, the business partners involved, such as Southern Nuclear, have no skin in the game, whatsoever. The entire amount of taxpayer funding is at risk of loss, in the event of a loan default.

Several weeks ago, throwing good money after bad, the Trump administration DOE added another $3.7 billion, topping the loan guarantee off at a tidy $12 billion. This is more than 22 times the amount of taxpayer money lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default, several years ago. The likes of U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (Republican-Michigan), who made so much hay about Solyndra, in an attempt to score political points against President Obama in an election year, have little to nothing to say about the risks of a Vogtle 3 & 4 nuclear loan guarantee default, even though so much more money is at stake. To the contrary, Upton (one of the nuclear power industry's best friends in Congress) was a lead advocate for massively expanding nuclear (as opposed to renewable) loan guarantees, when he served as U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman in 2007.

Such "public service," vis a vis the GA PSC ruling above, or Upton's advocacy for nuclear loan guarantees, "serves the public" all right -- up for dinner to the nuclear power industry!



Trump DOE ups nuclear loans to $12 billion despite multiple investigations 

The Trump administration's Department of Energy (DOE) has, shockingly, just offered Southern Nuclear and its partners in the construction of the Vogtle 3 & 4 new reactors in Georgia a $3.7 billion (yes, with a B!) federal taxpayer-backed loan guarantee, in a bid to shore up the faltering new build project. This is on top of the $8.3 billion nuclear loan guarantee awarded by President Obama's DOE a few years ago, making a tidy $12 billion overall. That's more than half of the total approved for nuclear loan guarantees nationwide a decade ago during the George W. Bush administration. This is more than 22 times the amount of taxpayer money put at risk, than was lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default several years ago, which congressional Republicans like U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (St. Joe, MI) made such a stink about at the time. It obviously puts all that federal taxpayer funding at very high risk of a loan default at Vogtle 3 & 4. Energy Secretary Rick Perry's largesse with taxpayer funds, to benefit filthy rich nuclear corporations, flies in the face of the cautionary tale at Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina.  
Multiple federal and state investigations are now under way, probing wrongdoing associated with the recent cancellation of two proposed new reactors of the same design as at Vogtle -- Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000s. The bankruptcy of Westinghouse, announced on March 29th, has led to Summer 2 & 3's cancellation, representing a huge loss of billions of dollars of ratepayer funding. Westinghouse's historic bankruptcy was due to the massive cost overruns, and years-long schedule delays, at these four AP1000 new builds in the Southeast. Please contact your U.S. Rep., as well as both your U.S. Senators, via the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121), and urge them to do all they can to block this latest giveaway of taxpayer money to the nuclear power industry! (The image, "Burning Money," above left, is compliments of the late Gene Case, of Avenging Angels; it was featured on the cover of The Nation magazine in 2003, accompanying Christian Parenti's feature article about the nuclear power relapse, of which Summer 2 & 3, and Vogtle 3 & 4, are the dubious flagships.) More 


As quoted in an August 3, 2017 coalition press release, warning about the next shoe that could drop, in the aftermath of the cancellation of the Summer Units 2 & 3 atomic reactors in S.C. -- $8.3 billion of federal taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees, at Vogtle Units 3 & 4 in Georgia (Michael Mariotte of NIRS liked to point out that that is 15 times the amount of taxpayer money lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default):

Even if there is no new federal bailout for nuclear, taxpayers could still end up on the hook for billions of dollars if the Vogtle project goes belly up.

Ryan Alexander, president, Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonprofit and nonpartisan taxpayer advocacy group, said: “The VC Summer project relied on the same problematic reactor designs and contractor, the recently bankrupt Westinghouse Corporation, as Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle. Westinghouse’s AP1000 design was being used in both VC Summer and Vogtle. Both projects have experienced multiple delays and significant cost overruns. Westinghouse’s recent bankruptcy pushed both projects further into turmoil. Unlike VC Summer, Vogtle managed to win themselves more than $8 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees. So while federal taxpayers should and must watch any efforts to contribute to the bailout of the state of South Carolina and the players involved in the VC Summers project, billions in tax dollars are already at risk with the Vogtle project. It seems clearer than ever that the writing is on the wall for taxpayers. We’ve said it for 8 years: These massive nuclear reactor projects were doomed from the start, and taxpayer money should not be risked on them.”


Critics train their sights on Vogtle's future

As reported by E&E News. (Please note, all but the first sentence of this article is hidden behind a pay wall.)

$8.3 billion in federal taxpayer-back nuclear loan guarantees are at stake, if Vogtle 3 & 4's partners (including Southern Co.'s Georgia Power) default on their loan repayment. See posts in this LOAN GUARANTEE section, below, for more information on this.

$8.3 billion is 15 times more taxpayer money than was lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default several years ago.

This particular article does not mention the federal loan guarantees at risk at Vogtle.

However, it does mention another potential federal taxpayer subsidy:

Even with that agreement in place, consumer advocates are worried that customers will wind up shouldering the burden of Vogtle's price tag. Westinghouse's parent, Toshiba Corp., has promised to underwrite $3.7 billion of the project, but it, too, is on shaky financial ground.

Congress could extend production tax credits, but the Senate has failed to act on a measure so far.

"There's just too much uncertainty, and I find that absolutely unacceptable," said Liz Coyle, executive director for Georgia Watch, a consumer group.

Whether it's CWIP (Construction Work in Progress, or advanced cost recovery, a.k.a. nuclear "tax" surcharges on ratepayers' electric bills), federal nuclear loan guarantees, or federal production tax credits, these all add up to massive public subsidies to filthy rich corporations like Southern Co. and GA Power.
And to these economic moral hazards of "we don't care how financially risky it is, because we're spending other people's money," must be added the radioactive moral hazards, if and when the two reactors at Vogtle 3 & 4 are completed and fired up -- reactor operating risks, as well as radioactive waste risks.