DOE Issues Remaining $1.8B in Loan Guarantees for Vogtle Nuclear Reactors

The last of three conditional commitments offered by the Department of Energy (DOE) to the coalition building two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia was finalized on June 24, allowing the project to be fully financed. 

Since it conditionally offered $8.33 billion in loan guarantees in 2010, the DOE has issued $6.5 billion in guarantees to Georgia Power Co. and Oglethorpe Power Corp. On June 24, the agency said it would issue $1.8 billion in guarantees to Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG).

MEAG owns 22.7% of the two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors under construction. Georgia Power owns 45.7%, Oglethorpe Power has a 30% share, and Dalton Utilities owns the remaining 1.6%.

The first of the reactors is scheduled for completion in June 2019, with the second in June 2020. However, the project—which entails building some of the world’s first AP1000 reactors—has been plagued by cost increases and delays. It was originally expected to come online in 2016 when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave it the go-ahead for construction and operation in 2012.

The 12th semi-annual project construction monitoring report released this February updates the estimated in-service cost of the project to $5.045 billion.

“The DOE Loan Guarantee will not affect the in-service cost of the units, but provides benefits to customers through lower financing costs,” the report says.

In a statement, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the DOE’s loan guarantees will play “an important part in expanding the role of nuclear energy as a part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy. The Vogtle project has put the U.S. at the forefront of a new generation of advanced nuclear reactors, incorporating numerous innovations resulting in significant operational and safety improvements, and helping to train a world-class workforce with expertise in building nuclear power plants.”

Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)