* Extra funding needed to cover 3 nuclear plant projects
* Congress could provide funds in supplemental budget votes
WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said on Wednesday that the Energy Department would need an additional $13 billion in authority from Congress to provide loan guarantees for building three new nuclear plants.
The department in February awarded $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to help build the first U.S. nuclear power plant in nearly three decades.
Chu told a Senate subcommittee that the $12 billion the department had left in loan guarantee authority would be enough to cover one more nuclear plant project that is seeking government help.
He said an additional $4 billion would allow a loan guarantee for a second nuclear plant project and a third reactor may be ready to seek a loan guarantee this year, but the department would another $9 billion in authority for that project.
Senator Byron Dorgan said Congress will likely vote on several supplemental budget bills this year and those measures might provide an opportunity to add funding for additional nuclear loan guarantees.
The Obama administration has asked the Congress for $54.5 billion in nuclear loan authority as part of its 2011 federal budget, which would begin this Oct. 1.
The $8.3 billion loan guarantee awarded in February went to help Southern Co (SO.N) build two reactors at an existing nuclear power plant in the state of Georgia.
The three other projects on the department’s loan guarantee short list are Constellation Energy CEP.P for an additional reactor at its Calvert Cliffs power plant in Maryland, NRG Energy’s (NRG.N) proposal to build two reactors in Texas and SCANA Corp’s SCG.N two-reactor expansion project at its Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)