Energy

Congress Gears Up For Showdown Over Billions In Nuclear Tax Credits

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

Congress did not include a provision extending tax credits for nuclear power in the $1.1 trillion spending bill intended to keep the government funded through September.

The lack of nuclear energy tax credits threaten the viability of two nuclear reactors being built in Georgia and South Carolina.

“The extension of the tax credit for advanced nuclear energy production is absolutely imperative to nuclear new build at Vogtle and VC Summer – and next-up U.S. nuclear projects, including SMRs, currently in the queue,” David Blee, executive director of the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council (NIC), told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Its urgency is even more so given challenges emanating from the Westinghouse Chapter 11 filing.”

Georgia and South Carolina lawmakers strongly supported extending the tax credit. Supporters claim congressional leadership is delaying the issue until lawmakers take up tax reform later this year.

Westinghouse’s March bankruptcy filing will likely delay the construction of the Vogtle and VC Summer reactors. South Carolina’s two Republican senators, Tom Scott and Lindsey Graham, were shocked when the federal tax credit was left out and have already introduced legislation extending the tax credit to 2025.

The Obama administration gave the developers of the Vogtle reactor in Georgia a $8.3 billion loan guarantee. Nuclear power supporters say taxpayers may be at risk of losing money if the Vogtle project falters.

Industry representatives think Scott’s legislation could save the Vogtle and VC Summer reactors.

“Senator Scott’s legislation achieves this in a simple, straightforward manner by removing the arbitrary requirement to be fully operational by 2020 while also providing flexibility for use of the tax credit,” Blee said. “Given the increasing urgency, the return on investment and the high stakes including nearly 10,000 direct jobs and thousands more in-direct and potential jobs, it is our hope that the Congress will act swiftly on this measure.”

“I’m not going to sit on the sidelines and watch the nuclear industry be destroyed,” Graham told Politico Wednesday. “For three years, we’ve been trying to get these tax credits extended…The reactors that are being built are very much at risk.”

Scott told a local newspaper losing the tax credit would cost his state 5,000 jobs and noted that the tax credit wasn’t expensive compared to the economic gain from the reactors.

“This is not a cost or scoring issue,” Blee said. “But even then, all in the aggregate cost of roughly $6.5 billion is only a drop in the bucket compared to the $100 billion in subsidization of renewables since 2005.”

Solar and wind power got 82 and 17 times more in subsidies than nuclear power per amount of energy generated according to 2013 Department of Energy data collected by Forbes.

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