Energy Dept. Backs Nation's First New Nuclear Reactors in Nearly 30 Years

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will head to Georgia Thursday to mark the closing of about $6.5 billion in loan guarantees for two new reactors.

The Associated Press

The Energy Department approved $6.5 billion in loan guarantees for two nuclear reactors in Waynesboro, Ga. 

By SHARE

They’ve got the juice.

The Department of Energy on Thursday will finalize about $6.5 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia – the first new nuclear facilities in the U.S. in more than 30 years.

[READ: More Coal Plants Than Scheduled to Be Retired, EIA Predicts]


“The president, I want to emphasize, did make it clear that he sees nuclear energy as part of America’s low-carbon energy portfolio,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said at a luncheon at the National Press Club on Wednesday. “We are working across the board to try to push the technology forward into the marketplace for all of our energy sources.”

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz speaks at an event Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz speaks at an event Feb. 19 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Moniz was scheduled to travel to the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Waynesboro, Ga., on Thursday, where he will mark the closing of the deal. The new reactors – 1,100-megawatt Westinghouse AP1000s – were estimated to cost about $15.5 billion, up from an initial price tag of $14.1 billion, the Department of Energy said. Expected to go online by January 2019, they will put out enough power for close to 1.5 million homes. 

The money for the loan guarantees came from the administration’s February 2010 stimulus program. The Department of Energy is still working to close a remaining $1.8 billion loan guarantee for the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.

[ALSO: Keystone XL a Climate 'Dirty Bomb,' Advocate Says]

Nuclear plants provide about 20 percent of the nation’s power. However, low natural gas prices, as well as safety concerns in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster in March 2011, have stymied nuclear power development.