WASHINGTON — The Energy Department is poised to approve $6.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for the first nuclear power plant built from scratch in this country in over 30 years.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was expected to announce final approval of the deal today, a day before he visits the $14 billion Vogtle nuclear plant now under construction in eastern Georgia.
Three government officials confirmed its details to the Associated Press on Tuesday. They asked not to be identified because the deal has not been made public.
Atlanta-based Southern Co. is building the plant with several partners about 30 miles southeast of Augusta. The project is widely considered a major test of whether the industry can build nuclear plants without the endemic delays and cost overruns that plagued building in the 1970s.
Vogtle was originally estimated to cost $14 billion, but government monitors have warned the final cost is likely to be higher. Completion of the project is not expected until at least 2018.
The Energy Department tentatively approved an $8.3 billion loan guarantee for the project in 2010 as part of President Barack Obama's pledge to expand nuclear power and other energy sources.