After years of negotiations, the owners of Plant Vogtle have filed documents with the U.S. Department of Energy to finalize a $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help finance two new nuclear reactors.
“There remain a series of steps that must be taken prior to closing,” Southern Co. spokesman Tim Leljedal said in an e-mail. “While we can’t disclose final terms, we do believe that our earlier estimate of approximately $200 million of present-value benefits is still representative of the loan’s value to our customers.”
Today marks the deadline for the fifth extension offered to Southern Co. to continue discussions for terms of the federal loan guarantee first offered in 2010. Leljedal said DOE extended the deadline again until the end of February.
Vogtle units 3 and 4 are the first new reactors built in the U.S. in three decades. The new Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors under construction at the Burke County site are scheduled to go online in 2017 and 2018.
“We are highly encouraged by recent progress in our loan guarantee with the Department of Energy. The details of the negotiations are confidential,” Leljedal said.
The government’s $8.3 billion offer included up to $3.46 billion for Georgia Power, which owns a 45.7 percent stake in the Vogtle project; up to $3.05 billion for Oglethorpe, which owns 30 percent; and up to $1.8 billion for MEAG, which owns 22.7 percent. The project’s remaining 1.6 percent is owned by Dalton Utilities.
Loan guarantees, in which the government promises to assume a company’s debt if the company defaults, were developed as an incentive for new nuclear construction.
Katherine Fuchs, a critic of federal loan guarantees and the nuclear subsidies campaigner for environmental group Friends of the Earth, said the loan obligates taxpayers to invest in nuclear energy in the event of a default.
“Taxpayers cannot afford to waste money on false solutions like Vogtle,” she said. “Instead, we need to be investing in real solutions like wind, solar and energy efficiency.”