Alexander: DOE’s Loan Guarantee for New Nuke Reactors “a Welcome Change” in Energy Policy

Says Nuclear Energy is America’s “Best Weapon Against Climate Change, High Energy Prices, Polluted Air and Energy Insecurity”

Posted on February 16, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said he was “encouraged” by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) announcement that it has offered an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to Southern Company for the construction of the nation’s first new nuclear power reactors in more than 30 years, a move designed to help spur a renaissance in America’s nuclear industry.

"This first loan guarantee for the first new reactors in more than three decades are a welcome change from an energy policy that was looking like a national windmill policy, the equivalent of going to war in sailboats,” said Alexander, one of the Senate’s strongest advocates of nuclear energy.  "We wouldn't think of mothballing our nuclear navy but that's exactly what we have done with nuclear plant construction—America’s best weapon against climate change, high energy prices, polluted air and energy insecurity.  All Republican senators—and a growing number of democrats—support building 100 nuclear plants as the first step in a clean energy policy.  President Obama deserves credit for moving ahead with these guarantees as well as for recent superior appointments to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”

Alexander has long called for a resurgence of nuclear energy to help America gain clean-energy independence.  Last July, Senator Alexander outlined his blueprint to build 100 new nuclear plants in 20 years at the National Press Club in Washington.  Alexander also introduced the bipartisan Clean Energy Act with Senator Jim Webb (D-Va.) last November to promote further investment and development of the nation’s clean energy technologies, especially nuclear power. 

The $8.3 billion loan guarantee would commit the federal government to paying a portion of the private loans Southern would take out for the project in the unlikely event the company defaulted on those loans.  A spokesman for Southern said the loan guarantee would cover up to 70 percent of the company's portion of the project's costs.  Southern applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March 2008 to build two reactors at the company's Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia, which already has two reactors. The Vogtle plant is about 170 miles (273 km) east of Atlanta.