Building on President Obama's State of the Union address to Congress and the American public last month, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz today announced at the National Press Club that he will be traveling to Waynesboro, Georgia tomorrow, February 20, to mark the issuance of approximately $6.5 billion in loan guarantees for the construction of two new nuclear reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant. The project represents the first new nuclear facilities in the U.S. to begin construction and receive NRC license in nearly three decades. In addition, the deployment of two new 1,100 megawatt Westinghouse AP1000® nuclear reactors is a first-mover for a new generation of advanced nuclear reactors.
"The construction of new nuclear power facilities like this one - which will provide carbon-free electricity to well over a million American energy consumers - is not only a major milestone in the Administration's commitment to jumpstart the U.S. nuclear power industry, it is also an important part of our all-of-the-above approach to American energy as we move toward a low-carbon energy future," said Secretary Moniz. "The innovative technology used in this project represents a new generation of nuclear power with advanced safety features and demonstrates renewed leadership from the U.S. nuclear energy industry."
The two new 1,100 megawatt Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant will supplement the two existing reactor units at the facility. According to industry projections, the project will create approximately 3,500 onsite construction jobs and approximately 800 permanent jobs once the units begin operation. When the new nuclear reactors come on line, they will provide enough reliable electricity to power nearly 1.5 million American homes.
Project partners include Georgia Power Company (GPC), Oglethorpe Power Corporation (OPC), the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG), and the City of Dalton, Georgia (Dalton).
President Obama announced the Energy Department's conditional commitments for the project in 2010, saying "To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we need to increase our supply of nuclear power and today's announcement helps to move us down that path." At that time, the Energy Department made conditional commitments for a total of $8.33 billion in loan guarantees. Tomorrow, the Department is scheduled to issue loan guarantees to GPC and OPC for a total of approximately $6.5 billion. The Department continues to work on the remaining conditional commitment for a $1.8 billion loan guarantee to MEAG.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized the Department to issue loan guarantees for projects that avoid, reduce or sequester greenhouse gases and employ new or significantly-improved technologies as compared to technologies in service in the United States at the time the guarantee is issued.
The nuclear facility is eligible for loan guarantees since it is expected to avoid nearly 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the equivalent of removing more than two million vehicles from the roads. In addition, the Westinghouse AP1000® reactor has incorporated numerous innovations resulting in significant operational and safety improvements.
Currently, the Department's Loan Programs Office (LPO) supports a large, diverse portfolio of more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments, supporting more than 30 closed and committed projects. The projects that LPO has supported include one of the world's largest wind farms; several of the world's largest solar generation and thermal energy storage systems; and more than a dozen new or retooled auto manufacturing plants across the country.