Should Congress do more to help revive the nuclear energy industry?
The Energy Department is expected to announce soon which companies will receive loan guarantees to build new nuclear power plants. DOE is authorized to hand out $18.5 billion in loan guarantees, which experts say is enough to cover construction of two to three plants. The electric companies would not receive the final guarantees, however, until their applications were approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Meanwhile, Congress is already considering new ways to encourage the electric industry to build new plants. In December, Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., released a climate change legislative framework that would also encourage nuclear energy development.
Will these benefits be enough to encourage construction of new nuclear power plants in the U.S.? The nuclear industry says it needs much more than the $18.5 billion in loan guarantees that it's slated to receive. The Senate trio's proposal still lacks detail, yet it's the only option on the table with a potentially robust nuclear provision. Should Congress consider other ways to help jumpstart the industry?