In a move that may be designed to court Republican support for climate change/energy legislation, President Obama announced the awarding of $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of two new nuclear reactors in Georgia. The two new 1,100 megawatt Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors will supplement the two reactor units at an existing Southern Company facility. For comparison, the dirty coal-fired Bruce Mansfield plant in Shippingort, Beaver County, has a rated capacity of 2,640 MW.
In response to this move, retiring Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope wrote in part:
“We need to prioritize the cleanest, cheapest, safest, and fastest ways to reduce emissions and nuclear power is neither clean, cheap, nor fast, nor safe. Putting taxpayers on the hook for billions, particularly when the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office puts the risk of default at over 50 percent, is not the best use of limited government resources. The $8 billion in loan guarantees announced today are unlikely to cover even half the final cost of the two reactors to be built. Retrofitting our homes and commercial buildings would result in significantly greater emissions reductions almost immediately–at far less cost–and would also cut energy bills in the long-run.
“Studies also show that investments in outdated energy sources like oil, coal, and nuclear power create far fewer jobs per dollar than investments in energy efficiency and clean energy.
“The loan guarantees announced today may ease the politics around comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation, but we do not believe that they are the best policy.”