Progress Energy Should Be Denied Taxpayer Subsidies to Build New Nuclear Reactors; Dangerous Nuclear Power Should Be Abandoned

Jan. 23, 2006

Progress Energy Should Be Denied Taxpayer Subsidies to Build New Nuclear Reactors; Dangerous Nuclear Power Should Be Abandoned

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Program

Progress Energy’s plan to apply for a construction and operation license to build up to two new nuclear reactors at the Harris Nuclear plant site near New Hill, N.C., should not be permitted to come to fruition. Clearly, Progress is angling to receive taxpayer subsidies to defray the costs of applying for a license; it should not be given a government handout for the application. Nor should the government issue a license.

No new reactors have been ordered in the United States for 30 years – and for good reason. Nuclear power is extremely expensive – no nuclear power plant has operated without taxpayer money since the nuclear power industry was born. Nuclear power also poses a public safety and national security threat and creates dangerous highly radioactive waste, for which no country in the world has a solution.

If Progress is permitted to proceed with its proposal, taxpayers could be on the hook for cradle-to-grave subsidies, including:

  • half the cost of applying for the license, estimated at as much as $45 million per application for pre-approved reactor designs;
  • “risk insurance” to pay the industry for delays in licensing, which could be up to $500 million each for the first two plants;
  • taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for up to 80 percent of the cost of a project, potentially costing taxpayers more than $2 billion per plant;
  • production tax credits of 1.8 cents for each kilowatt-hour of nuclear-generated electricity from new reactors during the first eight years of operation, estimated at a total of $5.7 billion in revenue losses to the U.S. Treasury through 2025.

For these reasons, we urge the government to deny Progress Energy federal dollars to subsidize the exorbitant costs of building new reactors and ultimately to deny the company a license.

For more information about the five fatal flaws of nuclear power, click here.

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