Organizations demand investigation into billions more in federal nuclear loan guarantees
Debbie Dooley, Atlanta Tea Party and Conservatives for Energy Freedom, 678-761-6725
John Hitchins, Georgians for Energy Freedom, 404-934-3575
Tim Judson, NIRS, 301-270-6477 x2
Jennifer Rennicks, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, 865-235-1448
Atlanta, Ga. (August 29, 2018) â€“ Today a coalition of taxpayer and consumer watchdog organizations representing both conservative and progressive members requested that the U.S. House and Senate Budget Committees investigate the troubled Vogtle nuclear expansion project in Georgia and the risks to U.S. taxpayers before the Department of Energy (DOE) finalizes an additional $3.7 billion in taxpayer-backed federal loan guarantees for this troubled project. The groups filed a detailed letter last week with Energy Secretary Rick Perry highlighting that costs for the only remaining new nuclear construction project in the country had increased yet again, this time by an additional $2.3 billion, just months after the previous multi-billion dollar cost increase was approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC). The DOE has yet to reply. The Vogtle expansionâ€™s original project costs, originally estimated at $14 billion, has now doubled, as has the construction schedule.
â€œTrue Conservatives donâ€™t believe in bailing out corporations for bad decisions. The Vogtle Project has turned into a â€˜Nuclear Solyndraâ€™ that puts tax payer dollars at risk,â€ said Debbie Dooley, President of the Atlanta Tea Party and Conservatives for Energy Freedom who delivered letters to Georgiaâ€™s representatives on both the U.S. House and Senate Budget Committees today. â€œI urge you to be good stewards of tax payer dollars by investigating the Vogtle Project and encouraging the Department of Energy to turn down the Federal Loan Guarantee request by the Vogtle partners.â€
In an effort to buoy the project, DOE announced conditional approval last September of an additional $3.7 billion in federal taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantees to three of the Vogtle project partners: $1.67 billion to Southern Co.’s Georgia Power, $1.6 billion to Oglethorpe Power Corp., and $415 million to the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG). These proposed loans are on top of the $8.3 billion in loan guarantees that utility project partners previously secured.
“Doling out even more corporate welfare at taxpayersâ€™ expense for a failing nuclear project in Georgia is outrageous,” said Sara Barczak, regional advocacy director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE).
The coalitionâ€™s letter to DOE mentions that construction is only approaching 50 percent completion nine years into the project, and the actual completion of Vogtle is increasingly uncertain â€“ all increasing the risk of default to U.S. taxpayers. Coalition members encouraged Secretary Perry to withdraw consideration of the loan guarantees, and if he were to proceed, requested that significantly higher credit subsidy fees be assessed.
â€œLike over fifty nuclear reactors before them, the Vogtle reactor project shows every sign of failure and, ultimately, being canceled. Itâ€™s like watching a slow-moving train wreck,â€ said Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service (NIRS). â€œWall Street has downgraded all of the utilities involved in this project since the latest multi-billion dollar cost increase, and Vogtleâ€™s largest customer says â€˜a decision to continue cannot be justified on any rational basis.â€™ U.S. taxpayers are already on the hook for $8.3 billion in loans for Vogtle. DOE needs to put on the breaks before flushing another $3.7 billion down the drain.â€
“Lack of accountability has led Plant Vogtle to become a money pit. With no end of construction in sight and costs continuing to soar by the billions, this project has become the definition of fiscal irresponsibility,â€ said John Hitchins with Georgians for Energy Freedom. â€œDifficult decisions will have to be made, but Georgia ratepayers and federal taxpayers deserve to be protected. We urge you to discontinue federal loan guarantees until we know the future of Vogtle.â€
Since the original $8.3 billion in loan guarantees were offered in 2010, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) filed extensive Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and went to court twice to force DOE to unearth important details on the risks posed to U.S. taxpayers if the Plant Vogtle nuclear project should default — a reality that plays a large role in the nuclear industryâ€™s history. Read more here.