The company needs the loan in order to proceed on building the American Centrifuge Plant at Piketon.
“USEC filed its application with the Department of Energy for a loan guarantee nearly a year ago, yet its application still languishes,” Schmidt, of Ohio 2nd House District, said in her remarks to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “USEC has informed the DOE it needs, at a minimum, a conditional commitment from the department...by early August or else it will have to begin demobilization of its project.”
Schmidt was joined in her support for the ACP by comments from six other members of the House.
The company applied in August for the $2 billion loan from DOE to help fund the ACP.
The Loan Guarantee program was established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the $2 billion funding appropriated by Congress is available until Sept. 2.
AREVA, a company majority-owned by the French government, has also applied for this funding for a proposed plant it hopes to build in Utah, with announced initial production in 2014.
A month ago USEC and AREVA announced they have formed the Southern Ohio Clean Energy Park Alliance, along with Duke Energy and UniStar Nuclear Energy, to pursue development of a nuclear power plant at the Piketon site.
Because of no word forthcoming on the $2 billion loan for the ACP, USEC announced in March it had taken immediate steps to conserve cash and reduce the planned escalation of construction of the plant, as well as the manufacture of AC 100 centrifuge machines for it.
Company officials said they will “sharply reduce the ramp-up” in hiring construction and craft workers and will put off until later obtaining select materials.
“We are talking about 8,000 good-paying jobs in Ohio, Tennessee and other states,” Schmidt said of the ACP. “If we are serious about stimulating the economy, this is a great project that is shovel ready. DOE must finish its review and issue a conditional commitment with reasonable terms and conditions.”
She directed a question on the timing to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a ranking member of the House serving New Jersey’s 11th District.
“Eleven months,” she said, “seems like more than enough time for DOE to review a loan guarantee application and make a decision. Would you also work with us to ensure the program is run efficiently and effectively?”
“I agree that 11 months is more than enough time for DOE to act upon the loan guarantee submission for the front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle,” Frelinghuysen said. “It is a personal priority of mine to ensure that the program is run efficiently and in the best interest of U.S. taxpayers.”
Frelinghuysen added, “While it needs to move quickly, the loan guarantee application process should also be open and fair to all qualified applicants.”
Also speaking on behalf of Schmidt’s proposal for quick action was Rep. Geoff Davis of Kentucky’s 4th District.
“I just want to add that USEC also plays a critical role in our national defense and energy security,” Davis said. “Our national security alone is enough of a reason for the DOE to issue USEC a loan guarantee at reasonable terms and conditions.”
Representatives Zachary Space of Ohio’s 18th House District and Tim Ryan of Ohio’s 17th House District also spoke to Pelosi in behalf of the loan.
“This technology and the jobs at stake are far too important for DOE to drag its feet,” Space said.
“It’s critical to thousands of jobs in Ohio and throughout our country,” said Ryan.
Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee’s 3rd District said, “I am proud that USEC has been developing its highly advanced uranium enrichment technology for the American Centrifuge Plant in my district at the Oak Ridge National Labs facility. We should not allow a seemingly totally risk-adverse loan staff at the Department to continually delay a decision on the loan application which will have the effect of terminating this incredible state-of-the-art facility.”
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.