DoE takes stock of nuclear loan guarantees

03 October 2008

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has 14 nuclear power projects to consider in its loan guarantee program. Their combined aggregate value of $188 billion is ten times what the DoE has allocated. 


The idea of loan guarantees is to reduce the financial uncertainty in employing new power technologies. The DoE is to put the credit of the American state behind some $18.5 billion in loans that electricity utilities would take to finance new nuclear build. Should the projects be delayed by government-related issues like safety regulation or planning, the DoE would ensure the utility does not have to pay extra finance costs on guaranteed debt. This offer could cover up to 90% of loans as long as they don't exceed 80% of a project's cost, so could greatly help the utility raise the cash. In the case that there are no overruns, the DoE would not have to pay anything, while the applicants have paid $600,000 already just to apply.


Known applications


The Department of Energy said it had
14 first-part applications. Seven have
been announced and one can be
deduced from statements.

Power generation

  • Unistar, for Calvert Cliffs
       (1 x Areva EPR)
  • Dominion, for North Anna 
       (1 x GE-Hitachi ESBWR)
  • Exelon, for Victoria
       (2 x ESBWR)
  • Duke Energy, for Lee
       (2 x Westinghouse AP1000)
  • PPL Corp, for Bell Bend
       (1 x EPR)
  • Luminant, for Comanche Peak
       (2 x Mitsubishi APWR)

Fuel cycle

  • Usec, for American Centrifuge
      (Second part already complete)
  • Areva, for Eagle Rock
Besides the $18.5 billion for nuclear projects, the DoE has also solicited for $30.5 billion of guarantees for renewable and fossil projects.


Following the deadline for first-part applications on 28 September, the sum total of applications in the DoE's hands was a whopping aggregate total of $188 billion, representing 21 new reactors at 14 sites and 28,800 MWe of generating capacity. It also has $4 billion in applications concerning facilities producing nuclear fuel products, compared to $2 billion it has said it would guarantee.


To select the projects to support, DoE will now examine the applications and produce a ranking. It said this ranking would "provide applicants information" to help them decide whether to complete the second part of the application, which would cost an additional $200,000. At least one applicant has already submitted the second part of its application.


The department said that all five reactor designs certified by, or under review by, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are represented.


Dennis Spurgeon, head of nuclear energy at the DoE said the guarantees were "an integral step in building up our nation's nuclear infrastructure and will further the broader goal of enhancing national energy security."