This is a big week for nuclear power proponents.
On Tuesday, President Obama announced a conditional $8.3 billion loan guarantee for the first new nuclear power plant in 27 years. If finalized, the guarantee would cover 70% of Southern's
This development has been years in the making. In 2006, Southern applied for an early site permit for the two new units, which was granted last year. In 2008, the firm filed for a construction and operating license, and soon thereafter, Toshiba and Shaw Group
Southern's operating license is not expected to be granted before 2011. If it seems like the company has jumped the gun with any of these steps, that's because it has to if it wants to get this plant built in any reasonable timeframe. The paperwork just takes that long to process.
Other contenders for Federal loan guarantees include NRG Energy
Critics point out that these loan guarantees have a not-insignificant chance of sticking taxpayers with billions of dollars of losses. Next to shenanigans like the uncapped Treasury backstop of Fannie Mae