Early this morning, President Donald Trump signed the budget deal struck in Congress just hours before, reopening the federal government after it shut down briefly overnight. The deal will increase spending by $300 billion, and includes “provisions that help a broad array of industries and sectors, including energy, health care and education,” according to The New York Times. It also includes a tax credit extension to save a nuclear reactor project in Georgia that’s been delayed and over budget for years.
In the past two decades, only one nuclear energy project has been finished in the U.S., due in part to “soaring construction costs and competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy,” the Times reports. The two nuclear reactors being built at Georgia Power’s Vogtle station, near Augusta, are the only reactors currently under construction in the country. Without an extension of the tax credit, which was due to expire in 2020 and is helping the company cover construction costs, the project would have been all but dead. The Georgia Public Service Commission, which regulates the state’s energy sector, told the Times in December that, should the tax credit not be extended, the commission “may reconsider the decision to move forward.”
Georgia Power has already raised the cost estimate from $14 billion to $23 billion, and the reactors, which were supposed to be completed by now, are now estimated to be online by 2021 or 2022.