US to Build 1st Nuclear Plant Since the 70s
Obama just gave a speech on clean energy after touring a clean jobs training facility in Lanham, MD. In the speech, he made the announcement that his administration has approved an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to build the first nuclear power plant in the US in three decades.
The last two power plants to be built in the US were the Watts Bar plant, which began construction in 1973, was completed in 1990, and didn't begin commercial operation until 1996, and the River Bend plant, which was built in 1977 and went online in 1986.
The loan guarantee for the new project is to be taken out of the $54 billion Obama set aside for nuclear loan guarantees in his 2010 budget--and it leaves $46 billion more to be allocated to other nuclear projects.
Holding Firm on Need for Comprehensive Reform
Along with the nuclear plans, however, he once again affirmed his commitment to passing comprehensive clean energy legislation that puts a price on carbon. He noted that not even nuclear power could successfully compete with dirty fuels like coal if carbon wasn't priced--seeing as how nuclear power is seen as risky and expensive, investors would continue to lean towards cheaper options like coal-fired power plants.
Obama discussed making serious strides in crafting bipartisan support for comprehensive energy reform. The president touched on his attempt to reach out to Republicans with offers of expanding offshore drilling and the nuclear loan guarantee program. He said that there is broad 'ideological support' for clean energy reform, and perhaps even seemed to hint that the two parties were gaining ground toward compromise.
That appeared to be the main thrust behind this energy speech: compromise. He noted the necessity of doing just that a number of times--but held firm on the need for comprehensive energy reform. Here's the speech:
Perhaps symbolizing this common ground are Obama's much-touted plans to open the first nuclear power plant in three decades--an effort to both show skeptical conservatives that he's serious about compromise on nuclear, and to show skeptical Democrats that it's a viable form of clean, carbon-free energy when approached cautiously.
Though not mentioned in his speech, Forbes reports that an $8.3 billion nuclear loan guarantee has been awarded to Southern Co. to build twin nuclear reactors in Georgia. They will be the first new nuclear reactors built in the US since the Watts Bar plant was completed in 1990.