Statement by TCS President Ryan Alexander on the VC Summer Project | Taxpayers for Common Sense


Statement by TCS President Ryan Alexander on the VC Summer Project

August 03, 2017

Statement by Ryan Alexander, President
Regarding the VC Summer Project


Good afternoon. I am Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a national, nonpartisan budget watchdog organization. For more than 20 years, Taxpayers has tracked and opposed wasteful cradle-to-grave subsidies to all energy sources from oil, gas, coal, and nuclear to wind and solar. Whether it is direct grants and spending, loans and loan guarantees, tax expenditures or insurance, the energy sector has received numerous taxpayer-backed supports for more than a century. These subsidies distort energy markets and place undue financial burden on federal taxpayers.

When it comes to nuclear power taxpayer subsidies run deep—from loan guarantees for construction, to production tax credits during operation, to clean up and waste disposal, to accident liabilities—taxpayers pick up the tab. 

This week we learned of the abandonment of the construction of two nuclear reactors in South Carolina, citing cost overruns and technological challenges. Known as the VC Summer, the project had already sunk $9 billion in state ratepayer funds and was less than 50 percent completed. Thankfully for federal taxpayers, this project had failed in securing a federally-backed loan guarantee. Taxpayers were on the hook for the project to receive a nuclear production tax credit of $2.2 billion once the project was completed. As with all other reactors, taxpayers would also have been on the hook for the accident insurance through the Price-Anderson act.

What is most telling about the VC Summer project for taxpayers is that the 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 Summer 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. 



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