Why Not Use Unclaimed Nuclear Loan Guarantees for Wind Power?
Last week NRG cited the end of loan guarantees for wind power as a reason for delaying the construction of a meteorological tower for the Bluewater Wind project. In response, Tom Carper and Chris Coons signed a letter announcing their intention to restore the loan program:
If there was $8 billion available in loan guarantees, which would require an appropriation of $80 million, the Department of Energy would be able to facilitate the financing of the first substantial tranche of offshore wind projects in this country.Having thought about where the funding could be found, I fired off this letter to our congressional delegation:
Dear Senator Carper, Senator Coons and Congressman Carney:
I propose that unclaimed nuclear power loan guarantees be repurposed for wind power. As you know, NRG cited the lack of funding for loan guarantees as a reason to delay the Bluewater Wind project, specifically the meteorological tower, which was scheduled to be erected this year.
According to the New York Times, half of the funds for nuclear loan guarantees have not been claimed six years after the program was created:
WASHINGTON — In an effort to encourage nuclear power, Congress voted in 2005 to authorize $17.5 billion in loan guarantees for new reactors. Now, six years later, with the industry stalled by poor market conditions and the Fukushima disaster, nearly half of the fund remains unclaimed. And yet Congress, at the request of the Obama administration, is preparing to add $36 billion in nuclear loan guarantees to next year’s budget.I propose that some of these funds be repurposed to support offshore wind power. In contrast to the nuclear industry, wind power projects are moving ahead despite the lack of a long-term commitment from the federal government. Only one nuclear power project has progressed far enough in the last six years to make a successful application for an $8.8 billion loan guarantee. The same amount would help finance wind power projects up and down the east coast.
Even supporters of the technology doubt that new projects will surface any time soon to replace those that have been all but abandoned.
By shifting a portion of the loan guarantee program from nuclear to wind power, the federal government could offer meaningful support to this promising industry at no new cost to taxpayers.