Despite President Obama’s insistence that “we can’t drill our way” to energy independence, America has been enjoying an energy renaissance under the Trump administration. We have become an energy exporter for the first time in 75 years, gas prices are low, and we are on track to achieve energy independence by 2020. The Trump administration can be proud of these data points. Yet, its energy policy is not perfect. Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently visited the Vogtle nuclear power plant in eastern Georgia, where he announced that the administration would provide an additional $3.7 billion in loan guarantees to support construction of two reactors. The move leaves the government guaranteeing a full $12 billion of the project’s financing.To say that the project’s construction has been troubled would be an understatement. It is billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, and it is not certain that the project will, in fact, ever be completed. Its potential customers are balking at the prospect of paying the high prices it will be forced to charge to recoup its investment. The fact that energy prices overall are sharply lower than they were when the project began — thanks to the 50 percent increase in natural gas production in the past decade — has put its long-term prospects in doubt even if the Vogtle plant does get up and running. The Trump administration appears unwilling to let the market determine the optimal energy mix in this country. In the past two years, it has attempted to prop up failing nuclear and coal-fired power plants several times, offering up various rationales for doing so. Last year it suggested these fuel sources were more resistant to cyber threats, an unsure claim. The administration also put forth the argument that subsidizing coal and nuclear plants is necessary for reasons of national security, but the majority of our nation’s natural gas supply is sourced from domestic producers.
The Hill 6th April 2019 read more »