Sep 24, 2018 - Energy & Environment

The only nuclear power project in the U.S. ponders its fate

Nuclear power plant

Vogtle, Georgia's two-unit nuclear power plant. Photo: Pallava Bagla/Corbis via Getty Images

Owners of a troubled, over-budget nuclear power project in Georgia will decide today whether to cancel the ongoing construction of two new reactors.

Why it matters: The expansion of Southern Company's Vogtle site is the only nuclear power project underway in the country. Its demise would be a major blow to the industry that has seen hopes for a U.S. renaissance fade.

Where it stands: Southern subsidiary Georgia Power, which has the largest stake in what has ballooned into a $27 billion project, has signaled that it supports pressing ahead.

  • But the two other major stakeholders — Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Oglethorpe Power Corp. — must also sign off on moving forward.

The intrigue: The project is supported by federal loan guarantees agreed to under the Obama administration, and the Trump administration supports completion of the reactors.

  • "It’s important that the U.S. maintain its leadership in nuclear technology, nuclear expertise," a senior DOE official told reporters on a call Sunday evening.
  • On Friday, the Energy Department sent letters to the owners warning that if it's canceled, the department is "prepared to move swiftly to fully enforce its rights" to repayment. Thus far, $5.6 billion of the $8.3 billion loan guarantee has been disbursed.

Go deeper: The Associated Press has more on the DOE letters to the project owners here.

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