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  1. You know, I just had a thought. I know you posted a few days back about the problems with the Loan Guarantee Program. Now, please correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding is that, with the exception of Three Mile Island, every U.S. Nuclear plant built has been operating profitably. The only ‘risk’ of a loan guarantee for a nuclear plant, basically, is the risk that the project gets cancelled after spending Billions of dollars, and so, because the plant isn’t finished, it can’t pay off the loan?

    So, if finishing a plant can pretty much guarantee that the plant can repay it’s loan, instead of assessing large ‘credit risk fees’ to ‘guarantee’ a loan, why doesn’t the government focus on making a guarantee that a Nuclear plant gets finished being built? No nuclear plant project, once started, should be stopped. Finish it to completion, and start collecting checks. If the original companies that started the project default on the loan, couldn’t the government take ownership, then find another company to complete the project, so that taxpayers don’t lose the loan money?

    As far as government spending programs goes, some might call nuclear plants ‘boondoggles’ (that is, a large project which costs a lot and creates a lot of temporary jobs) because they are so expensive to build, but unlike almost any other ‘boondoggles’, Nuclear plants *will* pay back the costs, all the while providing useful, valuable energy to keep our economy going. I like that kind of boondoggle.

  2. Sorry to hear, Rod. I know the situation that these Lynchburg folks are facing.

    The path to building new, large-scale nuclear plants is going to be a roller-coaster, most notably on the finance end, and probably always will be whether we like it or not. That’s why SMR technology and regulatory approval need to move foward. So best of luck to you on your new assignment and to the folks working on other SMR designs. Looking forward to the final product!

  3. … why doesn’t the government focus on making a guarantee that a Nuclear plant gets finished being built? No nuclear plant project, once started, should be stopped. Finish it to completion, and start collecting checks.

    Why would a government focus on helping the project backers to start collecting cheques when, if somehow the plant doesn’t get built, the cheque-collecting will be by that government itself, in the form of natural gas royalties?

    1. @G.R.L. Cowan. . . umm, because the governments already in for X Billion dollars and needs to recoup that money? Because on top of the loan money, the government will get back a lot of additional revenue in the form of taxes?

      It’s not like we’re going to just suddnely stop selling and using natural gas if a few nuclear plants get built. The govt. will still get their gas/coal/oil royalties for a century at least – I don’t remember what the exact figure was, but I remember reading that we can’t build nuclear plants fast enough, even if we set out on an ambitious building program, to replace fossil fuels for something like 100 years.

      Fossil fuels are probably better reserved for transportation, until we can figure out some good way to replace gas, diesel, LNG, or Coal-To-Oil (Fischer-Tropsch process fuel). Right now, small vehicles are the hardest place to replace liquid hydrocarbons, so let’s try to save as much fuel for transportation as possible.

      1. @Jeff – sorry if this comes across incorrectly, but I have to admit that your notion of “reserving” fossil fuels for any particular purpose is a bit quaint.

        Please go and review the following post and follow the links. Watch the way that the folks in the gas industry talk among themselves to see what they think about any restrictions on their ability to market their product in as many markets as possible. They make more money when they sell more product and they make a LOT more money when they can sell a product that people think is scarce and hard to find.

        http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com/2010/10/is-energy-market-zero-sum-game-where.html

        What do they care about the future? That is WAY beyond their quarterly earnings statements and WAY beyond the horizon of their investors.

        1. @Rod, Oh, I totally understand that the CEO’s and VP’s of gas, oil, and coal companies just want to extract and sell as fast as possible for every possible energy purpose. I don’t care about them. I’m suggesting that as a nation, we might want to consider the fact that, while hydrocarbons will never completely be gone (you can continue to find and extract more), they are going to keep getting harder and more expensive to get at, probably with more environmental negatives as the extraction gets harder.

          So, like I said, let’s, as a nation, try to convert as much electric production as possible to nuclear, wind, solar (with nuclear probably needing to provide the lion’s share), so that hydrocarbon fuels can be used for transportation and other applications where electricity doesn’t work so well.

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