The so-called nuclear renaissance that was supposed to boost U.S. capacity to generate emissions-free power may stall as developers await decisions from the Obama administration.

Nuclear-at-NightThe so-called nuclear renaissance that was supposed to boost U.S. capacity to generate emissions-free power may stall as developers await decisions from the Obama administration on federal aid.

The Energy Department in Washington needs to review proposed loan guarantees “thoroughly,” and a decision on at least one of three pending projects on its short list may be announced by the end of this year, spokeswoman Ebony Meeks said. The department increased the number of people working on the proposals to more than 120 from 10 in March 2009, she said.

“We need to make sure we review all of these projects very carefully and very thoroughly,” Meeks said today in a telephone interview.

Southern Co., the second-largest U.S. power producer, is the only plant developer to get a government loan guarantee to help make construction of new reactors possible. Two other groups that made the short list are seeing delays after previously expecting decisions earlier this year.

“Time is running out,” Constellation Energy Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mayo Shattuck III told investors yesterday on a conference call. “We definitely can’t keep spending without a near-term commitment in the form of a loan guarantee.”

The department has about $10 billion left for guarantees after it awarded $8.33 billion to Atlanta-based Southern and its partners in an expansion of the utility owner’s Vogtle power station in Georgia. There will only be enough money left to back financing for one more project unless and until Congress provides additional funding, Meeks said.

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Source: Katarzyna Klimasinska | Bloomberg