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Lobbyist for Nuclear-Plant Tax Credits succeeded by funding politicians

Donor Lobbying for Nuclear-Plant Tax Credits Brags of Dinners With Trump, Bloomberg, by Bill Allison
 and John McCormick June 14, 2017, 

  • Developer earlier gave millions to Democratic committees
  • GOP senators called tax-credit allocation ‘very troubling’
  • After Franklin L. Haney made his first million-dollar contribution to a super-PAC, his dream of owning a nuclear power plant took a big step forward.

    That gift went to a group to help re-elect President Barack Obama in 2012. Haney followed up with two more million-dollar donations in 2012 and 2014, both of which went to a committee run by former aides of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

  • Between the first million and the third million, U.S. officials cleared Haney’s company to eventually receive as much as $2 billion in tax credits for owners of nuclear plants that use advanced technology. Federal documents obtained by Bloomberg News show that the approvals came despite two complications: First, the plant in question depends on 40-year-old technology. Second, Haney didn’t own it.

    Haney ultimately purchased the unfinished, decades-old nuclear plant in northern Alabama at auction last November. Now, he has what may be an even bigger challenge — getting the mothballed plant into working order and finding customers for its power. That will require billions of dollars and some serious political help: For one thing, the tax credits he qualified for are set to expire in 2021, well before his facility could split its first atom.

    While lobbying to extend the credits, Haney made a familiar political move: He gave a fourth million-dollar donation, this one to the inaugural fund of President Donald Trump…..

  • During meetings, he mentions that he has dined at least a dozen times with Trump since the election, said the people, who asked not to be named because Haney made the comments in private settings. Haney, who didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, is a member of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s private club in Florida. The White House referred questions to the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Security Council, neither of which responded to requests for comment.
  • Gaining Trump’s support could be invaluable to Haney’s nuclear ambitions. Over the next 18 months, Trump will have the authority to appoint five of the nine board members who oversee the Tennessee Valley Authority, the government-owned utility that supplies power to 9 million customers in seven states, including Alabama. TVA represents the most likely customer for Bellefonte’s electricity, and Haney said in bid documents that he wants to sell power to the utility. But there’s a problem: TVA has already decided it doesn’t need Bellefonte……
  • Haney began trying to get into the nuclear-power industry, at an unfinished site in the Alabama countryside. The Bellefonte plant includes two partially built nuclear reactors, cooling towers and other facilities on 1,400 acres. TVA began construction in 1974 — then abandoned it in 1988. Today, one of the units is about 55 percent complete, and the other is about 35 percent finished.

    Haney’s 15-year quest to own the plant reached a climax in November, when he won Bellefonte in an auction, bidding $111 million. The only other bidder planned to sell the plant’s parts as scrap in India or elsewhere. Haney has two years to close the sale, which is conditional on his acquiring federal regulatory approvals and commitments for financing.

    ‘White Elephant’

    In the meantime, Haney has been lobbying officials on legislation that would extend the tax credit allocations that he’d already won for Bellefonte, federal lobbying disclosures show. But even if he wins an extension, many industry experts say they doubt Bellefonte can be profitable. Competition from low-cost natural gas and renewable energy sources has created difficult market conditions for nuclear plants nationwide. At least five have been retired in the past five years…….

June 16, 2017 - Posted by | politics, USA

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