Mar 17, 2008

$500 billion needed to build the country's next generation of nuclear power plants.

NRC Commissioner says feds fall short

Gregory Jaczko, a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), went to London last week to say the obvious about federal loan guarantees, something he should be saying here in the states. What he said was that the U.S. government's $18.5 billion in loan guarantees falls short of the $500 billion needed to build the country's next generation of nuclear power plants.

Referring to the $18.5 billion in loan guarantees authorized last year Jaczko said, "It's a far cry from what's needed. Congress is supportive, but have decided not to provide more federal loan guarantees - there's a disconnect there, so financing would have to happen without federal loan guarantees. "


More reactors are coming
To date, the NRC has
received five complete applications and one partial application for licenses to operate and construct a nuclear power plant. The agency expects to receive 17 applications for 30 nuclear power reactors with around 45 GW of capacity over the next two to three years. It's not yet clear how many licenses will be approved. Some will fail the "baloney test" and never make it to an NRC licensing hearing.

Jaczko said around 50 new nuclear reactors would be needed to replace the country's aging plants and keep the amount of electricity produced from nuclear steady at 20%. What he didn't say, but should have, is that we'll need another 50 to make any impact at all on swapping out fossil fuel generated greenhouse gases for zero emission nuclear energy.

"That first wave of new nuclear would need assistance as there's no commercially available financing now because of the uncertainties and because it's been 30 years since one was built."

"But once we demonstrate that, we should be able to finance the next wave with commercial loans," Wallace told Dow Jones Newswires.