Nuke plant loan may be at risk

The planned expansion of the South Texas Project nuclear plant near Bay City has been considered first in line for the federal loan guarantees that were supposed to fuel our “nuclear renaissance.” According to the head of the project indecision on the part of San Antonio utility CPS Energy is putting that status in doubt:
As the San Antonio Express-News reports:

“While the proposed expansion of the South Texas Project has topped the Energy Department’s list for loan guarantees, the delays on San Antonio’s part have put it “squarely in second place,” [NRG nuclear development head Steve] Winn told the San Antonio Express-News Editorial Board after he met with the city-owned utility.
CPS Energy and NRG are partners in the project. The Energy Department is considering backing a total of four nuclear projects.
A fall to third place could put the proposed deal out of the running altogether. That’s because the top two projects might use most or all of the $18.5 billion in loan guarantees, he said.
“The time frame for it to become critical is measured in weeks,” Winn said. “The difference between second and third is potentially the difference between the project being valuable and zero.”

CPS’ reluctance to stay with the project is due to growing cost estimates, which were apparently kept under wraps at CPS for some time. The Express News has been covering the issue here.
The others on the short-list for the loan guarantees:

• Unistar/Constellation Energy’s Calvert Cliffs 3 project in Maryland

• SCANA/Santee Cooper’s Summer station in South Carolina

• Southern Co.’s Vogtle nuclear station in Georgia

There’s some rumbling that the Vogtle project will be named the first official loan recipient on Thursday.