To: Senate Environment Committee Chair Barbara Boxer and Committee Member Sen. Ed Markey

Demand GAO investigation of DOE's "no money down" loan for new nuclear reactors

Demand GAO investigation of DOE's "no money down" loan for new nuclear reactors

Please demand that the Government Accountability Office conduct a thorough and speedy investigation of the Department of Energy's $6.5 Billion loan to Southern Company and Oglethorpe Power Company to build two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia.

Why is this important?

It was revealed April 21 that the Department of Energy (DOE) granted this loan with no "credit subsidy fee," that is, no down payment at all. Zero. Nada. Homebuyers and small businesses certainly wish they could receive no money down loans from the government--for projects much less risky than new nuclear reactors.

By comparison, a previous loan offered to Constellation Energy under the same program would have required $880 million in "credit subsidy fees"--the equivalent of a down payment.

Private banks require down payments, as every homebuyer knows, on all major loans. That's to ensure the borrower takes some of the risk of the loan too. You can't buy a house these days without putting about 20% down, but the Department of Energy was so desperate to give away taxpayer money for a nuclear power project that it decided it was just fine to give a giant corporation billions of taxpayer dollars for nothing. The result is that every American taxpayer is now subsidizing the electric bills of Georgia ratepayers.

That makes no sense and it isn't just fine.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the DOE (and the White House's Office of Management and Budget) was insisting on credit subsidy fees at least as recently as 2012--fees that even then were criticized as too small. But instead of acting responsibly to protect American taxpayers, the DOE caved in to the demands of the giant Southern Company for free taxpayer money.

Since the loan was first conditionally announced four years ago, much has changed: Fukushima. The rising use of natural gas (not a good thing, but real), which provides power more cost-effectively than nuclear. The stunning plunge in the costs of wind and solar power, which are now even cheaper than gas in many areas. The shutdown of old but paid-for nuclear reactors because they no longer can compete in the marketplace against renewables and gas. In Georgia, hundreds of megawatts of new solar power are being built and will provide electricity faster and far cheaper than new atomic reactors ever could do.

Yet instead of taking these realities into account, the DOE did the exact opposite. DOE must be held accountable for its actions.

An investigation of this loan by the GAO is essential before any more sweetheart deals are given. Another $1.8 Billion in taxpayer money for this project is still pending at DOE. And DOE has more than $10 Billion in its coffers to give to more nuclear projects. It is time to prevent any more outrageous uses of taxpayer money.

For more background on the issue, see our April 22, 2014 post on GreenWorld here: http://safeenergy.org/2014/04/22/does-desperation-on-vogtle-loan/

This campaign is a joint project of Nuclear Information and Resource Service and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

How it will be delivered

Personally to Sens. Boxer and Markey's offices.


Reasons for signing

  • The more than a billion dollar cost overruns on these two new reactors are terrible. Ratepayers are paying more and more for these two reactors. This project should be immediately cancelled. We should be adding much more solar power. It much less expensive and ratepayers will pay much less.
  • "Innocent by association (of wealth) must be halted in tracks, both in concept and action.

Updates

2014-04-29 23:00:01 -0700

10,000 signatures reached

2014-04-25 13:14:24 -0700

5,000 signatures reached

2014-04-24 13:44:26 -0700

1,000 signatures reached

2014-04-24 12:51:40 -0700

500 signatures reached

2014-04-24 12:30:31 -0700

100 signatures reached

2014-04-24 12:28:58 -0700

50 signatures reached

2014-04-24 12:28:19 -0700

25 signatures reached

2014-04-24 12:27:41 -0700

10 signatures reached