DOE Prepares to Offer $12.6B in New Nuclear Loan Guarantees

The Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday issued a draft solicitation that would provide up to $12.6 billion in loan guarantees for new nuclear projects.

The agency identified four technology areas of interest in the draft solicitation: advanced nuclear reactors, small modular reactors, upgrades and uprates at existing facilities, and front-end nuclear projects.

The draft solicitation now undergoes a 30-day public comment period to help the agency define the scope of the final solicitation.

Congress authorized the Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) in 2005 and the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program in 2007, authorizing the DOE to disburse tens of billions of dollars in loans and guarantees.

To date, only two loans, a total $10.33 billion, have been made under Section 1703 for nuclear projects—to AREVA for its Idaho Falls Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility, and to the coalition building the Vogtle nuclear reactors in Georgia. About $28.7 billion remains to be disbursed. Under Section 1705, however, for which Congress appropriated funds to pay credit subsidy costs, 31 loans for $15.7 billion have been guaranteed, mostly to renewables projects—and of these, three have defaulted.

Meanwhile, five loans for $8.4 billion have been made under the ATVM loan program, but two of the five have defaulted. And, though $16.6 billion remains to be disbursed, the DOE has not made a single ATVM loan since March 2011. It had only one active application as of February 2014.

In December 2013, the DOE made up to $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available to support advanced fossil energy projects that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases. This July, it made available $4 billion in additional loan guarantees for U.S. renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

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

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