WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The US Department of Energy (DOE) said Friday it had offered an additional loan guarantee of up to $ 3.7 billion to companies building two nuclear reactors at the Vogtle plant, Georgia.
Conditional loan guarantees were $ 1.67 billion to Georgia Power Company, a subsidiary of Southern Co, and $ 1.6 billion to Oglethorpe Power Corp. [OGPWR.UL] and $ 415 million to three subsidiaries of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.
US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who said he wanted to make nuclear power “cool” again, said in a statement that “the future of nuclear energy in the United States is bright,” and he looks forward to “being the American leadership in innovative areas to expand “. Nuclear Technologies. “
US nuclear power is battling competing power plants that burn plentiful and inexpensive natural gas and stagnating electricity demand.
The 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan also dampened interest in nuclear power. The Vogtle project is the first new US nuclear power plant to be built since the accident on Three Mile Island in 1979.
And cost overruns in the billions at Vogtle contributed to the fact that the main contractor Westinghouse Electric Co LLC, a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp of Japan, was driven into bankruptcy in March.
Vogtle and VC Summer, a similar twin reactor project in South Carolina, were approved a decade ago and were then considered to be contributing to a US nuclear renaissance.
The AP1000 reactor projects were designed and built by Westinghouse in Pittsburgh.
In July, the VC Summer project was killed by its owners SCANA Corp and state utility Santee Cooper.
The DOE has already guaranteed loans totaling 8.3 billion US dollars to support the construction of Vogtle reactors. Vogtle was originally supposed to start generating electricity in 2016, now the reactors should be completed towards the end of 2022.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Meredith Mazzili