If nuclear power is such a good idea, why does it need financial help from U.S. taxpayers?

This week, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced that the Obama administration would extend a $6.5 billion federal loan guarantee to cover part of the cost of building two new reactors at Southern Co.’s Alvin W. Vogtle site. Thursday he went to Waynesboro, Ga. to finalize the deal. Another $1.8 billion in guarantees could come soon.

The impact: Southern’s Georgia Power subsidiary, which owns 46 percent of the project, will save $225 million to $250 million because the loan guarantee will reduce interest costs. Instead of borrowing from a commercial bank, Southern can now borrow at rock bottom rates from the government’s Federal Financing Bank. And you, gentle reader, the taxpayer, take on all the risk if the project goes bust. Does the name Solyndra ring a bell?

If that’s not enough, Southern is also getting help from the federal production tax credit and other federal incentives that will ultimately save the company an additional $2 billion or so, Southern’s chief executive Tom Fanning said on a Jan. 29 conference call about earnings.

‘This is a deeply subsidized project that will cost the taxpayers a lot,” said Ken […]

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