The Community Common: Lawmakers Rally Support For USEC And Proposed Energy Park Read more: Community Common - Lawmakers Rally Support For USEC And Proposed Energy Park

March 28, 2011 | Portman Difference
On Wednesday, February 16 State Senator David Daniels (R- Greenfield) and State Representative Cliff Rosenberger (R- Clarksville) announced their plans to introduce legislation in the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives to urge President Obama to direct the U.S. Department Of Energy to ensure continuation of a uranium enrichment project in Piketon. Ohio Senator Rob Portman has also voiced concerns over the president's budget proposal and the effects it could have on the American Centrifuge Project.

“This project could bring thousands of jobs to southern Ohio and put our state at the forefront of the advanced energy industry,” Daniels said in a released statement. “Unfortunately, delays in obtaining a loan guarantee for USEC have prevented the project (American Centrifuge Plant) from moving forward, and these resolutions will send a strong message to Washington about how important the American Centrifuge Project is to the future of our energy industry and our state.”

Officials with USEC are still awaiting a decision from DOE about its pending $2 billion dollar loan guarantee application. If awarded the funds would be used in the construction and operation of the American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) in Piketon.

In July of 2010 USEC submitted an updated loan guarantee application with the DOE for $2.8 billion.

In its updated application USEC outlines several steps it has taken to address some of DOE's expressed concerns. USEC is calling the ACP a "shovel-ready" project, using U.S. technology and supporting 8,000 jobs during its construction.

In late 2010 DOE provided USEC with a draft term sheet after DOE completed the technical review of USEC's application. With the draft term sheet the two will be able to work out terms and conditions that would lead to a conditional loan guarantee commitment.

USEC's application has been pending with DOE for over two years.

“The completion of the American Centrifuge Project is critical for Ohio, as it is a golden opportunity to bring jobs back to our state and to show the world that we are still the front-runners in nuclear technology,” Rosenberger said in a released statement. “These proposed concurrent resolutions from the Ohio General Assembly will show President Obama and the U.S. Department of Energy that Ohio is serious about moving forward and bringing the American Centrifuge Plant to full fruition.”

The concurrent resolution states, "USEC and the Ohio General Assembly believe that the American Centrifuge Plant project has met the financial and technical requirements of the USDOE's Loan Guarantee Program as well as President Obama's policy objectives for energy security and climate change goals and that the plant has demonstrated with confidence that it is technologically ready to transition to commercial operation; The construction and operation of the American Centrifuge Plant will create up to an estimated 8,000 jobs, approximately half of which will be in Ohio; and USDOE's failure to grant a loan guarantee will force USEC, at a critical time in Ohio's economy, to demobilize its American Centrifuge Plant uranium enrichment project jeopardizing the expansion efforts at the Piketon plant and resulting in job losses in Ohio and several other states."

On Monday, President Barack Obama released his 2012 budget proposal was the motivation behind the resolutions according to the law makers.

The resolution also states, "That we, the members of the 129th General Assembly of the State of Ohio, urge the President of the United States to direct the Secretary of USDOE to award USEC, at the earliest opportunity, the federal loan guarantee for which it applied."

The resolution also urges support for the Clean Energy Park Demonstration Project that was proposed in 2009 for the Piketon facility.

When the plant was announced an alliance was formed for the purpose exploring the possibility of a clean energy park at DOE's Portsmouth site.

"We are looking at the deployment of a generation three nuclear power reactor. It would be one of the largest nuclear power reactors in the world," Wray Jordan, Southern Ohio Clean Energy Park Director said.

The alliance includes, Duke Energy, Areva, SODI (Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative), UniStar and USEC.

Duke Energy has taken the lead on the project and will be plant owner, licensee and applicant on any Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) filings.

In explaining why the Piketon site was chosen Jordan said "the Piketon site might be the finest site in the country, maybe the world for this particular project."

In 2010 SODI made a request to DOE to take control of land that is no longer needed at the Portsmouth site by the department for future development. SODI's original request was for 340 acres. In its revised request SODI is asking for over 1300 acres of the Portsmouth plant. While also changing the land's use from light industrial to heavy industrial. If the land is granted it would be utilized to house the Southern Ohio Clean Energy Park.

Jordan said there are a number of employees at the site currently that could transition to work at the clean energy park once D&D (Decontaminating and Decommissioning) activities have finished.

"As D&D goes along and the footprint of that plant shrinks, we hope to be ready to step in and allow those people to transition," Jordan said.

"We, the members of the 129th General Assembly of the State of Ohio, urge the President of the United States to direct the Secretary of USDOE to give strong consideration to the request made by the Southern Ohio Clean Energy Park Alliance for federal funding assistance for the Clean Energy Park Demonstration Project in Piketon, Ohio," the resolution reads.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), former director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and a member of the Senate Budget Committee, shared some of his concerns over the lack of funding for what he calls "critical projects" in President Obama’s budget proposal, such as the American Centrifuge Project in Piketon. “While I am pleased to see that the budget still includes the loan guarantees we need to spur nuclear energy production, including the funding necessary to move forward with the American Centrifuge Project in Piketon, I’m concerned that the Obama Administration has not provided Piketon the funding needed to maintain the accelerated cleanup schedule that it announced in 2008, which not only threatens jobs in Southern Ohio, but could also cost the federal government billions of dollars by extending the length of the cleanup,” Portman said in a released statement.

"We are always appreciative of the amazing levels of support we've gotten from local and state elected officials in the area as well as the community it's self. Anything that can help Washington understand the benefits of this project both for the people of Ohio and for the country as a whole is great," Paul Jacobson, USEC spokesperson said. "We would welcome continued voicing of support coming out of Ohio."

State Representative Dr. Terry Johnson could not be reached for comment.

Both concurrent resolutions have been introduced and will await a vote by both houses.