National Press Club

Moniz announces federal financial support for first nuclear power plants in US in nearly 30 years

February 19, 2014 | By Justin Duckham |

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz enjoys a light moment with NPC President Myron Belkind (right).

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz enjoys a light moment with NPC President Myron Belkind (right).

Photo/Image: Marshall H. Cohen

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced at a National Press Club luncheon Wednesday that the Obama administration will be signing off on a $6.5 billion loan guarantee to help finance the construction of two new nuclear power reactors at the Vogel electric plant in Georgia.

This marks the start of construction for the first nuclear plants built in the U.S. in nearly thirty years.

“The president, and I want to emphasize ... that he sees nuclear energy as part of America’s low-carbon energy portfolio,” Moniz said. “Of course, nuclear power is already a major part of our carbon-free portfolio.”

According to Moniz, The reactors are expected to provide power for approximately 1.5 million homes.

The energy secretary described the reactors as next generation technology and emphasized that the loan signals the administration’s desire to incent private industry to develop new clean energy technology.

While the announcement was certainly one that grabbed headlines, Moniz emphasized that the U.S. is pursuing using a wide array of energy sources under the administration’s “all of the above” plan.

“All of the Above is not a slogan, it’s a policy and a pathway to creating jobs and at the same time reducing carbon emissions,” Moniz said. “All of the above … certainly encompasses fossil fuels, nuclear, renewables, energy efficiency, but it starts with a commitment to lowering our carbon emissions and addressing the mitigation responsibilities we have for climate change.”

Moniz steered clear of one major energy policy concern: the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline between the U.S. and Canada.

Despite two attempts from Press Club President Myron Belkind, who was chairing his first luncheon as president, Moniz would not share his opinion on whether he believed the controversial pipeline should be built, instead deferring to the State Department, which will ultimately decide whether to sign off on the project.