House committee votes to lift 2020 deadline on nuclear power tax credit

Dive Brief:

  • The House Ways and Means Committee has voted 23-9 on a bill to remove a 2020 deadline for a nuclear power plant tax credit, The Hill reports.

  • The credit, enacted in 2005, will likely benefit the Vogtle nuclear reactors being built by Southern Co. in Georgia and the Summer reactors being built by SCANA in South Carolina. 

  • The bill would not change the 6,000-MW cap on the tax credit. Nuclear opponents called the bill a bailout for plant owners who have failed to deliver new reactor projects on time.

Dive Insight:

Nuclear plants are expensive to build — so expensive that until recently a nuclear plant had not entered construction for nearly 30 years. Notably the nuclear plants now under construction are all being done by regulated utilities, and they benefit from federal loans and tax credits.

That federal support is a key component for the financing of the projects, even if they are otherwise supported, ultimately, by ratepayers.

Both the Vogtle and Summer projects have been plagued by delays and cost overruns. The Vogtle units were originally due online in 2016 and 2017 and are now looking at a 2020 online date. The Summer reactors were originally due online in 2017 and are now slated for operation in 2019 and 2020.

If the revised timelines slip and the 2020 deadline on the tax credits remains, it could prove costly for the plant owners. The bill lifting the tax credit deadline would remove that risk.

“When Congress passed the 2005 act, it could not have contemplated the effort it would take to get a nuclear plant designed and licensed,” Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) told The Hill.

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Filed Under: Generation Regulation & Policy