Rick Perry Draws Ire For $3.7 Billion Nuclear Energy Bailout

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

A free market energy group is criticizing Energy Secretary Rick Perry after he announced nearly $4 billion in loan guarantees for a beleaguered nuclear construction project.

“We oppose federal loan guarantees for any energy source, period,” said Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA), in a Friday statement. “Nuclear power is an important part of our nation’s energy mix, but the federal government shouldn’t be in the business of providing loans for any energy source. Instead, it should stay out of energy markets and work to remove government subsidies and mandates to allow all energy sources to compete on a level playing field.”

The AEA’s statement comes after Perry visited Waynesboro, Georgia, on Friday and announced $3.7 billion in additional federal loans for the primary owners of a nuclear power project that has been beset with delays and cost overruns.

The Department of Energy is guaranteeing up to $1.67 billion in loans for Georgia Power, up to $1.6 billion for Oglethorpe Power, and up to $414.7 million for the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power). The three utilities are co-owners of the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant.

The loans are to help Vogtle’s construction of its two latest nuclear reactors: Units 3 and 4. The two units, which are the only nuclear reactors under construction in the entire country, were originally planned to be completed by 2017, but have been plagued with construction delays and ballooning costs. Unit 3 will not be ready to be loaded with fuel until 2020, and Unit 4 won’t go online until 2021.

Construction of the two units are expected to cost a total of $27 billion, and the announcement by Perry on Friday marks a total of $12 billion in federal loan guarantees to help keep the project afloat.

Vogtle’s struggles have been emblematic of the country’s nuclear industry.

The U.S. nuclear fleet is suffering under an unfriendly market. Competing against cheap natural gas and subsidy-backed renewables, numerous nuclear plants have been rendered unprofitable. Six nuclear plants closed in just the past six years. The horizon does not look much better for nuclear proponents, with nine other plants expected to shut down by 2025.

The Vogtle Unit 3 and 4 site, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, is seen near Waynesboro
The Vogtle Unit 3, being constructed by primary contactor Westinghouse, a business unit of Toshiba, near Waynesboro, Georgia, U.S. is seen in an aerial photo taken March 2017. Georgia Power/Handout via REUTERS

However, the Trump administration, along with a growing number of climate activists, is raising concerns over the plight of the nuclear industry, realizing that the closure of these plants means the end of a major source of zero-carbon energy. Unlike solar or wind, nuclear can generate large amounts of electricity — and unlike fossil fuels, it can do so while releasing no carbon emissions. (RELATED: Why Are Record Amounts Of Cash Being Dumped Into Georgia’s Utility Commissioner Race?)

“The Vogtle project is critically important to supporting the Administration’s direction to revitalize and expand the U.S. nuclear industry,” Perry said Friday, calling the two reactors the “real” Green New Deal. “A strong nuclear industry supports a reliable and resilient grid, and strengthens our energy and national security.”

However, free market and consumer groups have continued to criticize the federal government’s assistance of Vogtle, with the AEA calling for the Trump administration to stay out of energy markets entirely.

The Department of Energy did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation in time for publication of this article.

Follow Jason on Twitter.

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Zig Zag Wanderer
March 23, 2019 10:12 pm

Really? After untold billions in unreliable energy subsidies? What a crock!

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
March 23, 2019 10:20 pm

Only phrase in the article that matters…

Unlike solar or wind, nuclear can generate large amounts of electricity

Reply to  David Middleton
March 24, 2019 2:34 am

It would work if Perry actually came out and said that negative pricing is the major problem and all wind and solar subsidies should be phased out ASAP. Where the heck is that at?

Reply to  Jim
March 24, 2019 3:15 am

If they eliminated all of the subsidies and tax breaks, the only type of power plants being built in the Lower 48 would be natural gas-fired, mostly combined cycle… until this drove the price of natural gas up to the point wind, coal and nuclear actually became competitive.

Reply to  David Middleton
March 24, 2019 8:12 am

David, do you think Nuclear could be competitive price wise with less regulation or is natural gases price just too low?

Reply to  David Middleton
March 24, 2019 9:12 am

David is correct. Without support from CO2 regulations, no one would build a current generation nuclear plant (that’s for all you thorium aficionados). Even already built nukes are struggling in today’s markets against gas and renewables.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  David Middleton
March 24, 2019 9:25 am

Lots of past claims that AEA is a Koch mouthpiece.

Chris Hanley
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
March 23, 2019 10:36 pm

Exactly free market and consumer lobby groups would be better campaigning to eliminate all government meddling in the energy market.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
March 23, 2019 10:50 pm

“However, free market and consumer groups have continued to criticize the federal government’s assistance of Vogtle, with the AEA calling for the Trump administration to stay out of energy markets entirely.

They better refund all the renewable subsidies then! 🙂




Chris Hanley
Reply to  Roger
March 24, 2019 12:09 am

I missed that bit although some US states have introduced renewable cross-subsidises where for instance the cost of solar for some consumers are subsidised by everyone else.

March 23, 2019 10:49 pm

It seems that the American Energy Alliance is something like a sock puppet for the Koch Brothers. link

Reply to  commieBob
March 23, 2019 10:57 pm

Of course, everyone has an axe to grind. The link above is Source Watch which, in turn, has been accused of hypocrisy and left wing bias. cum grano salis, YMMV, buyer beware, caveat emptor …

Reply to  commieBob
March 24, 2019 12:47 pm

… Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA)…

So he whines that the Fe’ral Government is in the loan business. Actually, he lies and conflates “loans” with “loan guarantees”.

I get the Libertarian claims, but its a reality-free ideological thought experiment whenever they advocate one policy or another. The fact of the matter is that there are many people actively working to destroy dispatchable power and the government, particularly the Fe’ral Government, has an utterly corrupt court and regulatory system that imposes expensive punitive penalties on private investment in delivering reliable politically incorrect energy. Loan guarantees are necessary for as long as the same government underwrites and supports the neoluddite kakistocracy that impedes the industry.

Get rid of the corrupt activist judges, fire the anti-American bureaucrats, all who are hostile to affordable energy, and the argument for loan guarantees begins to evaporate.

Furthermore, not all energy bears the same expense over time, and from an energy security standpoint, wind & solar are completely unreliable yet have their place (not in commercial settings). Natural gas is abundant and cheap, but the supply of it can be easily interrupted. Coal is more resilient to interruptions of supply, and nuclear can sustain longer periods still.

As the US, already lawless and corrupt – third world – in terms of governance, continues to slide culturally into lawless third world status, the reliability of the grid, and thus the good parts of civilization, remains dependent on various fuels with their various costs and resiliency to disruptions.

Nuclear power has its place, and due to the fact that its fuel is constantly degrading, this is truly a “Use It or Lose It” energy source, and should be exploited.

Would like to see investment in other solutions, including MSRs and thorium.

John Doran
Reply to  AWG
March 25, 2019 6:19 am

@ AWG,
couldn’t agree more, spot on.

Robert Zubrin’s 2013 book: Merchants Of Despair
Compares safe & clean nuclear to other power sources & argues that fusion, in particular, has been starved of funding & buried under excess bureaucracy.
Zubrin has 9 patents to his name or pending & is a PhD nuclear engineer.
This book also reveals the eugenicist & dumb Malthusian roots of the depopulationist 1%s & their cronies, pushing the fake “environmentalist”, actually Fascist, policies of demonising CO2, industrial society, people & capitalism.
Their most disgusting “success” is the deaths of ?100 million? people in the third world, mostly women & children, from the dreadful death of malaria. This was achieved by the lies leading to the “banning” of DDT.
Zubrin also demolishes the lies of global overpopulation, revealing that, historically, more people pushes both progress & prosperity.
He refers much to The Ultimate Resource 2, a book by brilliant economist, Julian L. Simon, which proves these points in far greater detail.

March 23, 2019 11:01 pm

The government would be far more relevant if it investigated why nuclear power is unprofitable, and amended the federal regulations that render it so, unnecessarily.

Rhoda R
Reply to  Leo Smith
March 23, 2019 11:17 pm


Donald Kasper
Reply to  Leo Smith
March 24, 2019 12:05 am

The renewables get credits for zero carbon emissions but nuclear does not. This was the problem in NY state.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
March 24, 2019 2:35 am

Negative Pricing.

Reply to  Leo Smith
March 24, 2019 6:07 am

Right on. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is very likely that the reason for the cost overruns is directly related to Government regulatory policies and a constant changing of the rules and requirements for the construction.

And if that is the case it is only right that the government offer money to offset the costs they caused.

Otherwise, I’m fully in support of the idea that the government should be hands-off in private development, but that applies to both sides of the equation. If they don’t’ support, they shouldn’t hinder either.

dan no longer in CA
Reply to  peter
March 24, 2019 9:53 am

Here’s a good article on why nuclear power is about twice the cost in the US compared to the rest of the world. https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/The-Myth-Of-Expensive-Nuclear-Power.html

Janet L. Chennault
Reply to  peter
March 24, 2019 11:14 am

That is spot on. While I am in favor of getting the gov out of energy production, right now their involvement is necessary in order to overcome the regulatory hurdles they themselves have put into place.


William Astley
Reply to  Leo Smith
March 24, 2019 9:11 am

Come on.

Drain the swamp. The truth will set us free. Fact are facts.

The problem is we are building an obsolete, inherently dangerous, reactor design, not too much regulation.

This is a great example of institutional failure. Rather than change fission reactor designs, which would end the fuel rod industry, we ‘protected’ the status quo.

We do not have a nuclear industry. We have a fuel rod industry. A typical pressure water reactor has 50,000 fuel rods, a third of which must be removed every 2 years just before the zircon fuel rod cladding cracks. Using 1990 costs, 50,000 fuel rods costs 50 million dollars.

Fuel rod, water cooled reactors are very expensive as it is an engineering fact that that design has multiple catastrophic failure modes which require an expensive containment building and expensive systems to avoid melt downs and explosions.

1. Low water flow. Fuel rods melt down
2. Loss of water flow (pumps fail, valve fails, power failure, piping failure, and so on). Fuel rods melt down in roughly 12 minutes.
3. Low level. Fuel rods melt down and zircon cladding covering the fuel rods reacts with air to create hydrogen gas which blows up.
4. Overpressure. Reactor blows up.
5. Loss of pressure. Fuel rods melt down and zircon cladding covering the fuel rods reacts with air to create hydrogen gas which blows up.

Getting rid of the fuel rods and using a salt that melts at 400C and boils at 1400C is the solution to building the best theoretically possible thermal spectrum fission reactor.

A NASA engineer while looking for a fission reactor to use on the moon re-discovered a fission reactor design (that was built and tested 50 years ago by the designer of the light water reactor) that cannot have fuel rod melt downs as it does not have fuel rods and that does not have endothermic reactions or phase changes to blow apart the reactor apart.

The new design operates at atmospheric pressure rather than 150 atmospheres.

The ‘new’ fission reactor is roughly 1/3th the cost of the old pressure water reactors, it six times more fuel efficient, it produces 1/9 th amount of long lived radioactive waste and it can be mass produced.
The new reactor system is sealed so it possible to have very near zero radioactive material release under any imaginable normal or accident scenario.

The new reactor design is something that everyone would rather have near them as opposed to a coal fired power station, natural gas power plant, hundreds of wind turbines.

The molten salt reactor produces heat at 600C (47% thermal efficiency) rather than 320C (Pressure water reactor, 36% efficiency) which enable the use of standard steam turbines rather than custom turbines which only the ‘nuclear’ industry uses.

Malcolm Carter
Reply to  William Astley
March 24, 2019 12:30 pm

And yet they have been incredibly safe, much safer than fossil and safer than wind and solar. The molten salt reactors have greater inherent safety (theoretical) but the materials tests will require another 6-10 years of experiment before they are licensed in Canada. Longer probably in the US. Presently Moltex and Terrestrial Energy are seeking permissions to build experimental prototypes. Cheaper? In theory, however that will be affected by the regulations which often reflect public fears more than physics.
Note in the above the zirconium reacts with superheated steam, not air.

March 23, 2019 11:03 pm

Anyone Green who complains of CO2 emissions yet who is also against nuclear power doesn’t have a brain. Really. Energy density has to increase. Wind and solar energy density takes humanity back to the Stone-age era of burning dung and twigs for heat and cooking.

You have to be brainless to reject nuclear as the only way forward for the developed Western world, including Japan, Korea, China.
The greens can get on-board with nuclear now, or be the grit-under-the-bus tires when the energy crunch gets “no shit” serious if they want to make zero-emissions a reality.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 24, 2019 1:55 am

People refuse to listen to Dr. Schellnhuber, CBE, the decabonizer. They complain of CO2, ignore nuclear to get to the Great Optimum Population of 1 billion. That is the game.

It makes eugenics look quaint.

Drop the energy density per capita and you drop both population and longevity to Neanderthal levels.
It is not a paradox or mystery why this is being played. There is a natural reaction, from Yellow Vests, Brexit to Trump, and the only constructive approach is China’s BRI, Belt and Road Initiative. Italy just signed the MOU, and the best way to deal with the eugenics brigade is for Trump to sign an MOU when the Climate Commission is underway.

Reply to  bonbon
March 24, 2019 2:15 am

Just watch the hyena calls from the AEI and co. when this happens.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 24, 2019 3:31 am

The same clowns are also generally opposed to natural gas.

Firstly, Rick Perry is the best Secretary of Energy in the history of the department and the first to actually focus on domestic energy production.

Secondly, there’s nothing wrong supporting completion of the Vogtle NGS or with what he said at CERA Week…

Perry, the Trump administration’s energy secretary, several times at the conference referred to the importance of cutting greenhouse gas emissions through technologies including nuclear power, carbon capture and natural gas to replace coal for power generation. He even had some conciliatory words for Ms Ocasio-Cortez and other proponents of the Green New Deal, saying that while he might disagree with their means, he hoped they could agree on some of their goals, including helping China and India curb their emissions.

Read more: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/03/rick_perry_has_surrendered_.html#ixzz5j1r25Ll8
Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

While there is no urgent need to curb CO2 emissions, increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is not “wholly beneficial.” At concentrations below 1,000 ppm, it may not be particularly harmful; but above that it does start to affect marine geochemistry and, all other factors held equal, it does lead to a slightly warmer lower troposphere.

  • Nuclear power is good.
  • Carbon capture at a reasonable cost is not bad.
  • Carbon capture for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery is VERY good.
  • Replacing coal in an economically efficient manner is good… Even though coal-fired power plants can be “clean,” it’s still not as “clean” as natural gas or nuclear power.
  • Helping India and Red China curb their emissions is also a good thing, a very good thing… Because they make very little effort to operate coal-fired plants “cleanly.” CO2 isn’t the only type of emission from coal-fired power plants.

Secretary Perry is committed to maintaining and expanding the use of nuclear power and coal because they are the most resilient components of the grid. He also views AGW as a minor problem that can be addressed in an orderly and economically sustainable manner… Much the same way that every actual skeptical climate scientist views it, people like Judith Curry, John Christy, Roy Spencer, Richard Lindzen, etc.

The alarmists are only about 97% wrong.

HD Hoese
Reply to  David Middleton
March 24, 2019 7:18 am

“Firstly, Rick Perry is the best Secretary of Energy in the history of the department and the first to actually focus on domestic energy production.”

He may be, but given the competition, not exactly much of a compliment. Texas, which does have lots of wind, is still adding windmills and ethanol is still a problem. Turbines are moving N and whooping cranes S on the coast, the latter smarter than the former.

Bobby Jindal (former governor of Louisiana) met with midwestern ethanol producers and tried to logically explain the problem and that since the government got them into it, it had to them get out without damage. Politically incorrect, but absolutely necessary? I think I saw 15% ethanol signs, cheaper than others, in Corpus Christi. Is there a cost/benefit analysis?

Reply to  David Middleton
March 24, 2019 12:00 pm

Helping India and Red China curb their emissions is also a good thing
Nope. The road to hell is paved within good intentions.

The US would quite rightly be up in arms if China or India tried to ‘help’ the US.

The US should deal with US problems and quit trying to tell other countries how to run their lives.

In trying to help the US has wasted huge amounts of money and made a lot of enemies worldwide.

It is OK to have a 500 pound gorilla on your side in a fight, but you don’t always want their help cleaning up the fine china after a meal.

Reply to  ferd berple
March 24, 2019 12:09 pm

The US should be up in arms if China or India tried to ‘help’ the US… If we needed their help, we would be a Third World country.

Helping Red China and India to burn coal more cleanly, opens up export opportunities for US coal.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  David Middleton
March 25, 2019 4:41 am

David Middleton stated….above 1000 ppm CO2 effects marine geochemistry….leads to slightly warmer lower troposphere temperature.
With respect to the first statement what studies support that position? I’ve never seen any white papers on the subject except Tom Segalstat’s in ICCC in New York—Heartland files.
With respect to the latter this article suggests otherwise.
Many of the articles on this site ( being half brain dead can recall any ) seem to be in direct conflict with your statements?
You are clearly more astute than I on the subject but these statements are confusing–at least to me. Please clarify.

Reply to  Carbon Bigfoot
March 25, 2019 10:04 am

First… American Thinker is an interesting political blog. It’s not even remotely scientific. The argument about 100% IR absorption of CO2 would only hold water if the molecules absorbed the heat forever and if the concentration of CO2 was fixed. That said, the warming effect of greenhouse gases is a diminishing returns function. All other factors held equal, each doubling of the CO2 concentration leads to a linear warming effect, a little over 1 °C per doubling…

With a little bit of effort, CO2 will probably level out around 560 ppmv around the end of this century… and the average surface temperature will probably be about 1.3 °C warmer than it would have been at 280 ppmv… No big deal. Another doubling to 1,120 ppmv would probably cause another 1.3 °C of warming… Is that a big deal? Maybe. Would it be good or bad? Impossible to say.

Regarding marine geochemistry, increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will increase the partial pressure of of CO2 in the oceans. This will increase the DIC (dissolved inorganic carbon) more than the TA (total alkalinity). All other factors held equal, it will lower the pH. This will cause the carbonate compensation depth to be a little shallower and make it a little more difficult for some marine calcifiers, although some will benefit. At 560 ppmv, it’s no big deal. At 1,120 ppmv, there could be some bad effects on marine calcifiers.

Figure 1 from Ries (Left), red boxes approximate current calcification rate range. (Right) Letters indicate the pCO2 level at which the calcification rate drops below the current range, eventually reaching net dissolution in some cases.


It also affects the overall carbonate geochemistry. Somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 ppmv we lose aragonite, in favor of low-Mg calcite.


Below 1,000 ppmv —> No big deal.
1,000-2,000 ppmv —> Much higher risk of unpredictable, possibly really bad things happening in the oceans.
Above 3,000 ppmv —> A whole different world.

The fact that the alarmists continuously “cry wolf,” doesn’t mean that wolves don’t exist. There’s no “climate crisis.” There’s no need for drastic action. There’s absolutely no need for geoengineering schemes – more dangerous than Gorebal Warming. But, we are slightly altering the climate and marine geochemistry with greenhouse gas emissions. Since there is no way to determine a safe level, the wise course of action is to reduce those emissions in an economically sustainable manner over the next 100 years or so.

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 24, 2019 10:02 am

“Anyone Green who complains of CO2 emissions doesn’t have a brain”

Fixed that for you.

March 23, 2019 11:39 pm

So- how much of the delay can be blamed on lawsuits trying to force a delay or stop construction completely?

The people filing those suits should be paying all the increased costs.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Gospace
March 24, 2019 5:02 am

“So- how much of the delay can be blamed on lawsuits trying to force a delay or stop construction completely?”

Yes, it would be nice to get a breakdown of all the costs associated with this construction.

Trump probably needs to get out his regulation-cutting pen. It’s time to streamline getting nuclear powerplants up and running.

It’s also time to put a lot of money into advanced nuclear designs.

Paul R Johnson
Reply to  Gospace
March 24, 2019 6:05 am

There are also significant hidden costs in the long delays in these projects. The knowledge and experience base in nuclear construction has been lost. In completing these projects, the entire infrastructure for nuclear plant construction has to be rebuilt and the skills relearned. Imagine trying to build an aircraft carrier after all the shipyards have been closed for twenty years.

Reply to  Paul R Johnson
March 24, 2019 6:35 am

Which is one reason why, IMO, PWR technology should be shelved. Spend that time, effort and expense on the future (gen 4) instead.

Reply to  icisil
March 24, 2019 8:47 am

And how will they prevent the exact same tactics used to slow and delay the construction of PWR’s?

Rich Davis
Reply to  Paul R Johnson
March 24, 2019 9:01 am

I’m sure there’s something to your argument but on the other hand, it’s not as if we don’t have people pouring concrete or welding vessels for other industrial purposes.

March 23, 2019 11:51 pm

Thomas Pyle, the president of the American Energy Alliance (AEA)
Instead, it should stay out of energy markets and work to remove government subsidies and mandates to allow all energy sources to compete on a level playing field.”

In the U.S. alone in 2016, $18.4 billion was spent on energy subsidies; $11 billion of that went to renewable energy and $3 billion to energy efficiency.



March 24, 2019 12:33 am

Sadly the days of “Free Enterprise” sorting problems out are behind us.
Today its Greens and its Lawyers who run things, and the shareholders are
told that while Trump may favour Nuclear, the next President will be a
Democrat, an thus against Nuclear.

Best to put all of your spare cash into renewable, because with subsidies its a guarantee of a steady stream of money for you.

Of course Trump is also playing politics, with votes for him in 2020.


Lewis P Buckingham
March 24, 2019 1:37 am

There is method though, in the madness.
The US under Trump is working towards energy security, independance and technological superiority.
To that end, why not support the nuclear industry and design safer nuclear plants for domestic, military and ‘environmental’ reasons?
When Bill Gates tried to develop a joint technological enterprise with China, to do the same , the Trump administration said NO.
So if the US is going to blow money on something in the despatchable energy market, it may as well subsidise it and stop importing inefficient solar panels from China.
Bill will presumably come onboard.
Eventually it will package nukes on ships and remote areas and sell the technology to friendly nations.
Once scaled up, nuclear will become cheap.
Australia will eventually offer to store safely the waste in our ancient continent.
One of our celebrated Prime Ministers, Bob Hawke, is always telling the left to do this.
The work to safely do so is continuing.
Our CSIRO has developed a stable rock to fuse with radioactive elements.
They need to be congratulated.
Synroc would then be placed in bedrock in the oldest , most stable, rocks on Earth, here in Australia.
Australia has lots of uranium
USA: up to 5000 tonnes per year.
EU: up to 3500 tonnes per year, including Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, UK.
Japan: formerly up to 2500 tonnes per year.
South Korea: up to 1500 tonnes per year.
China: about 500 tonnes per year.
Taiwan: up to 500 tonnes per year.
India: up to 300 tonnes per year likely from 2018.
For once the US has a clear plan.
Energy security and stability.
Nuclear will be part of this.
Leave Perry alone.
‘Do not bother skateboarding children’

old construction worker
March 24, 2019 3:38 am

Why the cost overruns and delays? “were originally planned to be completed by 2017, but have been plagued with construction delays and ballooning cost.” Why can France build a Nuclear plant in haft the time? The government needs to stop picking winner and losers.

Ian W
Reply to  old construction worker
March 24, 2019 4:13 am

The French can build a plant in half the time as they have half the regulations and regulatory authorities. The government – and that includes county, state and multiple federal agencies continually throw grit in the gears of nuclear power plant construction often regulate with the intent of preventing such construction. Secretary Perry would be well advised to reduce these often unnecessary regulatory loads on nuclear power plant construction.

Reply to  old construction worker
March 24, 2019 9:08 am

“Why the cost overruns and delays? How long would it take you to build a house if every two weeks you received new building code requirements requiring changes to the foundation, specifications on the use of I-Beams, number of windows, height of the rooms, length of the piping, slope of the sanitary drains, etc, etc. , etc. . Meanwhile those changes cause you to continue paying on the construction loan which you have been paying with a Line of Credit. Thus what happens to your cash flow and monthly bills?
As a Nuclear Power Plant Start up engineer for ten years I witnessed the fact that the NRC requested changes every few months that just could not be refused. Then there are the changes required by AntiNuke “Intervenors” causing more meetings, delays and cost overruns.

Rich Davis
March 24, 2019 4:46 am

Saying that the government should not even provide a loan guarantee (which costs nothing so long as the borrowers do not default on their loans from private lenders), seems to me to be blind allegiance to ideology. It must be obvious that government interference in the energy markets coupled with excessive regulations on nuclear power play a major role in the project’s difficulties, whether it be the delays in construction or the difficulties getting loans without government guarantees. Is there no national security interest in maintaining diverse sources of reliable energy?

You can reasonably be opposed to subsidies for wind and solar as I am, while recognizing that so long as those harmful policies remain in play, it is reasonable (in fact just) to provide relief to those harmed by government’s earlier interference.

It is like being opposed to giving chemotherapy to healthy children but still favoring it for kids with cancer. Opposing even loan guarantees is like being unwilling to hold the door to the clinic open so that the child with cancer can go in and get treatment.

Reply to  Rich Davis
March 24, 2019 7:17 am

Correct. Government has so poisoned the nuclear generation industry that government must take 100% of the risk. Through guaranteed loans or whatever.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Gamecock
March 24, 2019 8:01 am

Failure to undo the Carter era version of the environmental review process is largely at fault. As much of the delay is due to an executive order, it should be possible to undo it with another executive order.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Gamecock
March 24, 2019 8:34 am

The government is not taking 100% of the risk, though. The investors and ratepayers in Georgia are unprotected. The bankers are the only ones who have had their risk taken on by the government. So long as the project is completed and revenues start to flow, there will never be any cost to the taxpayer.

March 24, 2019 5:42 am

9 plants to shut by 2025. Anyone know how long before all US plants with some age on them are mothballed? IMO Trump should propose a Great New Deal (GND) that highlights this problem and advocates a WWII mobilization to develop gen 4 capability (among other things that will MAGA). Well, not really a WWII mobilization… just jerking a certain group’s chain.

March 24, 2019 6:20 am

If you look at the entire story of Vogtle there is corruption, bankrupcy, cost overuns. If you want to see a disaster for nuclear do a search on SCANA, V. C Sumner. This is the twin to Plant Vogtle. It will result in a $10 billion disaster. No power will ever be made at this plant. The state of South Carolina is in total chaos as the leaders scramble to hide and run. SCE&G has been sold. Santee Cooper, the state owned utility that was a partner noe has huge debt and the politiians are trying to sell the utility while passing the debt to the potential buyers. IMHO this plant, along with Vogtle has given the Nuclear industry a huge black eye and will be hard to recover from.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Gary Grubbs
March 24, 2019 8:47 am

Are you trying to say that there is only one company out there that has nuclear power plant projects? Saying that mistakes by one group of investors (assuming that we can accept your claims about that) should taint the efforts of any developer of nuclear power is like saying all white people are tainted by the fact that a white whackjob shot up a mosque in New Zealand.

Government “regulations” that were conceived as punishment-by-process are the root cause of the nuclear industry’s malaise.

Reply to  Gary Grubbs
March 24, 2019 3:30 pm

No, it is the public perception that is damaging. Only 2 nuclear plants were contracted to be built recently. Both had bankrupcies and massive cost overruns. And forget about schedule. That perception is very bad.

March 24, 2019 8:36 am

Hey, I’ve got news – govt gives solar panel buyers $6500 for their rooftop system, which pays for all of the panels in a typical 6K system. These are NOT loans, they are gifts. The help for the Georgia nuclear plants was NOT a givt, but a LOAN. The Fed govt also gives outright subsidies to wind farms and often utilities are forced to buy from renewable generators when they produce output and cut back purschases of nuclear power.

Rich Davis
Reply to  kent beuchert
March 24, 2019 8:52 am

Not even a loan by the government, but a promise to pay the lender if the borrower defaults. No government money has been spent or lent.

March 24, 2019 10:44 am

The EIA noted that the nuclear fleet set a record-

“Electricity generation from U.S. nuclear power plants totaled 807.1 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2018, slightly more than the previous peak of 807.0 million MWh in 2010, based on preliminary annual data. Although several nuclear power plants have closed since 2010, a combination of added capacity through uprates and shorter refueling and maintenance cycles allowed the remaining nuclear power plants to produce more electricity. In the near future, however, EIA expects that U.S. nuclear power output will decline.”


The scheduled closers are delineated in the post.

And Diablio is fully up and running as of yesterday.

William Astley
March 24, 2019 11:23 am

How can anyone be pro status quo nuclear?

There have been five major failures of fuel rod, water cooled reactors. Is it a possible to build a reactor that just produces heat and cannot blow up?

Fuel rod, water cooled reactor are very expensive and take a long time to build. Is it possible that there is a mass producible reactor is as cheap as coal to build?

It is an engineering fact that there is a six times more fuel efficient, 20% more thermal efficient, no catastrophic failure modes, reactor design that was built and tested 50 years ago and not documented.

That is a pathetic failure of our institutions.

In no other industry would there be an energy source which is six times more fuel efficient, mass producible, roughly a 1/3th the cost, and unbelievably safer than the status quo design that was built and tested 50 years ago.

The public would demand executions and/or mass beatings if they understood the ‘Nuclear Fiasco’.

The test 50 years ago was absolutely successful. By order of congress all work was stopped, including documentation. There was no summary prepared comparing revolutionary design to status design.

The only reason that it is possible for there to be ‘breakthrough’ in safety and efficiency in nuclear engineering, is there is a ‘swamp’ around nuclear engineering.

The public is terrified of fission reactors because of the poor safety record of PWR and Boiling water reactors.

There have been five meltdown failures of water cooled, fuel rod reactors.

Failure of the cooling system includes any blockage of fuel channels. There was a small meltdown due to debris getting in the cooling system after maintenance.

The Boiling Crisis
To return to the discussion of the experiment depicted in Fig. 8.10, if the temperature of the fuel surface is increased in nucleate boiling region, the density of the bubbles at or near the surface of the fuel rods also increases. Eventually, however, a point is reached when the bubble density becomes so great that adjacent bubbles coalesce and begin to form a vapour film across the surface of the rods.

At this point, which corresponds to point C in figure 8.10, the system is said to be in a boiling crisis or in a condition leading to a departure from nucleate boiling (DNB).

…. If the reactor power is suddenly increased so that the heat flux into the water rises above the DNB value of q”c, partial film boiling will immediately begin in the channel. However, as explained previously, the formation of the film impedes the transfer of heat to the coolant.

As a consequence, the heat confined so to speak, within the fuel raises the fuel temperature and the surface temperature of the rods – forming the channel.

This in turn, leads to an increase in the area of the film, which leads to a further decrease in the heat flux, a further increase in rod surface temperature, and so on. In this way, the wall temperature rapidly increases along the boiling curve from point C to point E.

Long before E is reached the temperature of the fuel will attain such high values (several thousands of degrees Fahrenheit) that the fuel will partially melt, the cladding with rupture, and fission products will be released into the coolant. As noted earlier, these are occurrences that must be prevented at all costs. For this reason, it is important to know the value of q”c and to keep a reactor form operating near the DNB point.

March 24, 2019 12:27 pm

You cannot have subsidized renewables and nuclear on the same grid. The subsidies will drive the nuclear out of business.

It is plainly absurd that nuclear regulators can drive through change orders during construction. Such ‘add on’ changes are likely to reduce safety while increasing costs, because design element interact in unforseen ways. The only orders should be to correct build errors that vary from the design.

March 24, 2019 12:38 pm

I recall reading about a Canadian design “CAN DO, that was said to be 100 % safe and efficient. Is that so ?

If so why is it not used ?

What is happening in India and China ?


March 24, 2019 12:44 pm

Gas turbines can co-exist with renewables because they can load-follow, they are modular and mass produced, and fuel is cheap.

Except for renewables there would be very little demand for gas turbine power plants.

It is the instability of renewables along with price subsidies that makes large, baseload power
plants uneconomical.

Large baseload power plants were never designed to run alongside unstable renewables. There is too much inertia in the baseload generators for them to ramp up and down in response to clouds and wind.

All the existing infrastructure, built over many decades will need to be replaced at a cost of many trillions of dollars. Translation: tens of thousands of dollars in extra costs for every family to avoid 0.01C of warming.

March 24, 2019 1:21 pm

How many of the cost over runs can be traced back to changing government regulations?

Reply to  MarkW
March 24, 2019 2:22 pm

We need a regulatory environment that permits “freezing” the design of a nuclear plant.

Reply to  MarkW
March 24, 2019 6:47 pm

When cost overruns become endemic, where do you place the blame ?
More to the point, who picks up the tab ?

March 24, 2019 4:04 pm

This should buy another six months of cost over runs.

Steven Burnett
March 24, 2019 4:41 pm

I spoke with someone who worked at vogtle until recently. Reactor 3 is the bulk of the over time and over budget. Reactor 4 has been meeting most of its schedule and budget.

Theres alot of learning with 3.

March 25, 2019 1:54 am

“The two units…. were originally planned to be completed by 2017, but have been plagued with construction delays and ballooning costs. Unit 3 will not be ready to be loaded with fuel until 2020, and Unit 4 won’t go online until 2021”

That’s why people don’t build nuclear plants… not because they are dangerous, not because they don’t deliver power, but because the construction drags on for ever and the original costs go up. See the new EDF reactors in France and Finland…

and then when it comes to decommissioning, there’s never enough put aside and the costs skyrocket there…. which has practically bankrupt EDF in France.

Nukes are uneconomic and won’t get built for that reason (unless you are an autocratic state, which possibly also doesn’t care too much about safety)

Reply to  griff
March 25, 2019 9:11 am

Of course griff ignores why construction drags on and on.
Constantly changing regulations and lawsuits by trolls such as himself.

Dr. Strangelove
March 25, 2019 6:36 am

Thorium is the answer. It’s Nixon’s fault!

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