The two year spending bill just passed by Congress and signed by the President attempts to make good on the administration’s promised tilt towards coal and nuclear power. For the energy industry the bill contains an assortment of subsidies, emergency assistance for hurricane damaged regions and rewards for failure.
The biggest sum is the $2 billion dedicated to restore Puerto Rico’s electric grid. Not much debate on that and a long time in coming.
The next $2 billion will go to Southern Company’s over budget and behind schedule Vogtle nuclear project. The two unit AP1000 plant, designed by the ill-fated Westinghouse Corp., is the only new nuclear construction project remaining in the United States. Southern Company will receive a subsidy of 1.8¢ per kWh generated.
Georgia’s regulators recently voted to continue to permit Georgia Power to charge its customers for the Vogtle project with the understanding that the builder’s tax credit would be extended. Congress has lifted the deadline. Apparently the government is ready to advance another $3.7 billion of loan guarantees as well.
The third item of note may not have a price tag because it is so iffy. But the Trump administration has made no secret of its attempts to rehabilitate coal as a boiler fuel for electric power generation in the US. To this end it is encouraging carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). This technology would have made enormous sense a decade or two ago. Renewable energy was expensive then and people had dreams of making coal clean by stripping out the carbon emissions from the generating process and entombing the carbon dioxide underground or using it in enhanced oil recovery operations.The law contains additional subsidies and benefits for fortunate energy producers. But, as far as we can tell, it lacks any money for the key technology that could truly change the electric power business–storage.[…]