Statement from Southern Alliance for Clean Energy on Court Ruling on SACE’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Challenge Regarding the $8.3 Billion Taxpayer-Financed Federal Nuclear Loan Guarantee for Southern Company’s Proposal to Build New Nuclear Reactors at Plant Vogtle
Atlanta – Today, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a favorable ruling regarding Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s two-year pursuit challenging the U.S Department of Energy to release important information related to the $8.3 billion U.S. taxpayer-financed nuclear loan guarantee that was conditionally committed to Southern Company and its utility partners in February 2010 to support efforts to build two new nuclear reactors at the existing Plant Vogtle site near Waynesboro, Georgia.
Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of SACE, commented:
Though this ruling is long overdue given that we filed our original Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Energy over two years ago, we are extremely pleased that the Court essentially ruled in our favor: that the agency has not been able to justify why they have withheld significant amounts of information from the public for an $8.3 billion taxpayer-financed nuclear loan guarantee for Southern Company’s ill-advised pursuit of building two additional nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. We are particularly pleased that the Court definitively ordered the Department of Energy to release the credit subsidy fee estimates, which essentially represents what “skin” the utilities have had to place into the “game.”
Unfortunately the Court is giving the agency another chance to justify why equally important information should continue to be withheld from the public. The Department of Energy will have sixty (60) more days to explain why certain terms and conditions of the loan guarantees should not be released. As the Court noted, if the agency chooses to withhold the information, the agency must then show that Southern Company actually provided its own loan guarantee terms. We find it alarming that a utility gets to call the shots with billions of dollars of taxpayer money potentially on the line.
We believe it is imperative that until all the terms of the loan guarantee are made transparent, the Department of Energy must not finalize the loan guarantee with Southern Company and its partners in the Vogtle project. Further, we implore Southern Company to step away from this deal, which will do nothing but put U.S. taxpayers at risk should the project default.
Again, we are glad the Court agrees with our challenge that the Department of Energy has not made a compelling case but are disappointed that the agency, which has mismanaged the loan guarantee program as cited in many reports by various government agencies, has been given an undeserved, second chance. Instead, the information we requested should be made immediately available to the public.
To read the the U.S. District Court’s ruling in full, click here. # # # Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. www.cleanenergy.org