Federal loan guarantees raise hopes for new reactors planned by affiliates of Constellation and NRG.
Scott M. Gawlicki, a Fortnightly contributor based in West Hartford, Ct., has been writing about the power industry for nearly 20 years. Email him at email@example.com.
When President Bush signed the 2008 Omnibus spending bill last December, he effectively released the federal loan guarantee funding that nuclear developers say is critical to building the country’s first nuclear steam generators in decades—and reinvigorating the industry as a whole.
The $555 billion spending package allocates $38.5 billion in loan guarantees for energy projects that avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gases, including $18.5 billion for new nuclear plant construction, $2 billion for uranium enrichment, $10 billion for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and $8 billion for clean coal technology.
As such, the bill represents a major milestone for two developers in particular—Princeton, N.J.-based independent power producer NRG Energy; and Baltimore, Md.-based UniStar Energy—which were the first to submit combined construction and operating license applications (COLAs) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2007.
Each is in the process of spending tens of millions of development dollars on everything from regulatory applications and engineering to reactor vessels and other long lead-time components.