By Jarret Adams
U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told the Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Sept. 24 that he would “push for billions of dollars in new loan guarantee authority” to help facilitate the construction additional nuclear power plants.
“If you really want to restart the American nuclear energy industry in a serious way…we (need to) send signals to the industry that the U.S. is serious about investing in nuclear power plants,” Chu told Dow Jones. He added that there are four or five more that could go forward with additional loan guarantee support. In fact, the number is much larger than that.
While the Department of Energy (DOE) has received applications for loan guarantees that would total more than $100 billion, it only has enough to backstop loans of $18.5 billion, about four to five new plants.
Sec. Chu also noted that nuclear energy is an important factor in helping prevent CO2 emissions. “It’s part of how we’re going to get to the carbon reductions we need in order to avoid the worst of climate change,” he told Dow Jones.
This Op Ed from a retired Oregon State University professor hits the nail on the head:
“Loan guarantees are essential. They provide predictable financing and reduce the interest costs on private loans, which result in lower costs for consumers. The government already guarantees many billions of loans each year to help farmers, exporters, businesses and students. The government does not actually lend the money but agrees to pay it back in case the borrower defaults. If nuclear projects are properly managed, loan guarantees will cost taxpayers nothing.
The climate-change bill approved by the House would create a clean energy bank to provide loans for nuclear power and other types of low-carbon technologies. But the House arbitrarily placed a 30-percent limit on nuclear power’s share of the loans. If allowed to stand, the restriction would mean there would not be enough loans to go around for most of the nuclear plants now on the drawing board. The Senate needs to remove the restriction so that this country can benefit from a major expansion of nuclear power.
Being the largest source of carbon-free energy, nuclear power is part of the solution, not the problem. This is an enormous opportunity to contribute to the security and safety of ourselves and the rest of the world.”
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