No. President Obama’s recent announcement of an $8.3 billion loan to Southern Co. to build the first US nuclear power plant in 30 years was not part of the stimulus package, which passed in early 2009. These are separate initiatives. Southern’s plant, which will be located near Atlanta, Georgia, will not be online until 2016, and some have criticized whether Southern really needs the money in the first place (they reportedly had $18 billion in revenue last year) and whether the Obama administration’s move is merely meant to placate critics, such as John McCain in the 2008 Presidential campaign, who have advocated for greater utilization of nuclear power. As with any action out of Washington, the political ramifications tend to be the most focused-upon. Nuclear power is still a very tricky proposition economically because of the immense front-end costs of construction and epic regulatory delays; Obama’s money to Southern is not likely to change that. Does it signal that nuclear power is now a priority of the administration? Only time will tell.
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