February 28, 2024

The Nerve Archive

Where Government Gets Exposed

Fight over reactors continues — in Georgia

Regulators move forward with project similar to V.C. Summer


Georgia’s Public Service Commission set hearings yesterday to determine whether the Vogtle nuclear facility will be built there, with a decision expected in February.

Three weeks ago, the Georgia Power Company told the regulators it wanted to complete the two-reactor project, near Waynesboro.

It’s now the sole new nuclear construction in the U.S., since South Carolina’s SCANA and Santee Cooper abandoned construction of two V.C. Summer reactors July 31, and Duke Energy abandoned planned construction of its Lee nuclear plant in Cherokee County, August 25.

Vogtle uses the same Westinghouse AP1000 proprietary design and technology as what had been underway at V.C. Summer.

Just as the abandonment of V.C. Summer has engendered controversy here, the push to finish in Georgia has environmentalists and consumer advocates pushing back, not least because total costs there will likely top $25 billion and could reach more than $27 billion, Southern Co., Georgia’s parent company, told the Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year.

In regulated states such as Georgia and South Carolina, those costs are recouped from ratepayers. (In deregulated states such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, “merchant reactors” compete against gas and renewable power generators.) At that price in Georgia, ratepayers may never realize any savings from nuclear power.

The analyses of the Georgia PSC staff also show Vogtle may never be viable, but the elected commissioners have signaled they want the project to move forward, according to the Savannah Morning News, as has Georgia Power, which owns nearly half of it.

Georgia’s PSC combines the functions of South Carolina’s PSC and its Office of Regulatory Staff.

Utility Dive, which covers the electric utility industry, also has a good take here.

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