Thursday, March 11, 2010

Three “conditions pending” as Southern Company and DOE negotiate loan guarantee for new nuclear reactors

Etopia News spoke today with Ebony Meeks, Press Assistant at the U.S. Department of Energy, about the on-going negotiations between DOE and Southern Company for a loan guarantee in support of the major utility’s plans to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia.

Ms. Meeks said that there were three “conditions pending” that need to be fulfilled before the loan guarantee can be issued.

First, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) needs to issue a COL, or Combined License to build and operate the proposed plants. More about this at:

According to the NRC site:

By issuing a combined license (COL), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) authorizes the licensee to construct and (with specified conditions) operate a nuclear power plant at a specific site, in accordance with established laws and regulations. A COL is valid for 40 years from the date of the Commission finding, under Title 10, Section 52.103 (g), of the Code of Federal Regulations [10 CFR 52.103(g)], that the acceptance criteria in the combined license are met. A COL can be renewed for an additional 20 years. The NRC expects to receive applications for new LWR {Light Water Reactor] facilities in a variety of projected locations throughout the United States.

Second, the DOE and Southern Company need to agree on the size of the “credit subsidy” payment to be made in return for the loan guarantee. Ms. Meeks said that information about the size of this payment was “proprietary,” but that it should be released when the loan agreement closes.

Third, the loan guarantee can only cover 80% of the project cost, so Southern Company, and its associated partners, need to raise 20% of the project funding from other sources, as a condition for getting the loan guarantee.

Ms. Meeks indicated that the 80% loan itself is expected to come from the Federal Financing Bank.

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