Dept. of Energy Secretary Rick Perry is scheduled to visit Plant Vogtle tomorrow in Waynesboro, GA. In response, Taxpayers for Common Sense issued the following press release:
Earlier this week, the Department of Energy announced that Secretary Perry will visit the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Georgia on March 22 to announce that the Department of Energy will finalize $3.7 billion in additional federal loan guarantees for the plant’s reactor construction project from the Title 17 Loan Guarantee Program. The announcement comes on the heels of the release of the Trump budget proposal which calls for the elimination of the program.
“Just days after the Trump Administration released its annual proposal to end the loan guarantee program, the Department of Energy is handing over $3.7 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to the long-troubled Vogtle nuclear reactor construction project. It would be a gross understatement to say this decision is fiscally reckless. Putting the full faith and credit of the US Treasury behind a project after it’s been plagued by sky-rocketing costs and multi-year delays is an unjustifiable handout to the well-heeled Southern Company and its partners. Throwing good money after bad is never good policy,” said TCS president Ryan Alexander.
Taxpayers are already on the line for $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for the project, which the Department of Energy finalized in 2014 and 2015. With this additional money, taxpayer liabilities for the Vogtle reactors would total $12 billion. For Southern Company and the other Vogtle owners, the benefits of the new loan guarantees come just a year after Congress voted to extend and expand the nuclear production tax credit so that Vogtle could qualify. By reducing construction financing costs through the loan guarantees and reducing tax bills through the tax credits, taxpayers will end up giving Southern Company hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies for the Vogtle project.
“Increasing support for a project plagued by cost overruns and delays is an unjustifiable intrusion in the marketplace – it forces taxpayers to take the risks, while the rewards go to the well-heeled Southern Company and its shareholders,” continued Alexander.
The project was initially slated to be completed in 2017 at a cost of up to $14.3 billion, but due to construction issues and the bankruptcy of the reactor designer and project contractor, Westinghouse Electric Co., the Vogtle project is now estimated to cost roughly $28 billion and is running as much as six years behind schedule.
“Time and again the Vogtle nuclear reactor project has proven itself to be far too risky of an investment for taxpayers. Project delays and cost increases are measured in YEARS and BILLIONS with no end in sight,” said Alexander.