Trump Administration Offers Vogtle Nuclear Plant $3.7 Billion in Loan Guarantees

By Miguel Bustillo Features Dow Jones Newswires

The Trump administration on Friday offered an additional $3.7 billion in loan guarantees to a troubled nuclear power plant project in Georgia that is billions over budget and years behind schedule, raising the total federal loan guarantees to $12 billion.

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Energy Secretary Rick Perry said it was important for the U.S. government to support the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, which would be the first new nuclear reactors built in the country in more than three decades.

"I believe the future of nuclear Energy in the United States is bright and look forward to expanding American leadership in innovative nuclear technologies," Mr. Perry said in a statement, adding that nuclear power was important to the stability of the nation's power grid.

The Vogtle project involves adding two new reactors to an existing plant, which already contains two older reactors. The costs of the expansion have ballooned to more than $25 billion, according to Southern Co., chief owner of the plant. The company disclosed the financials in August, adding that the project would likely be delayed by another 18 months until February 2021 at the earliest.

Vogtle's price tag is set to be split by Southern, several regional power companies, and Toshiba Corp., whose subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric Corp., went bankrupt earlier this year while building the plant.

It is the only remaining nuclear plant under construction in the U.S., after Scana Corp. in July pulled the plug on a similar project using Westinghouse reactors in South Carolina. That facility also encountered delays and cost increases, which raised its projected completion costs above $25 billion.

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"Today's announcement reflects the wide-ranging governmental support for nuclear energy in America," said Paul Bowers, chief executive of Georgia Power Co., the Southern subsidiary that owns 45.7% of the two new nuclear reactors under construction.

Georgia Power is set to receive loan guarantees of $1.67 billion out of the $3.7 billion total. The Energy Department has previously guaranteed $8.3 billion in loans to Southern and the other owners of the project, who include Oglethorpe Power Corp. and three subsidiaries of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.

Southern told the Georgia Public Service Commission last month that it intends to press forward with the nuclear plant despite the cost overruns and delays.

Write to Miguel Bustillo at miguel.bustillo@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 29, 2017 13:48 ET (17:48 GMT)