- Georgia Power is continuing to make progress on the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion, telling state regulators that the facility is now 60% complete and work continues every day, the Augusta Chronicle reports.
- At the same time, the utility has submitted a 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) potentially calling for additional nuclear to be constructed. Regulators at the Georgia Public Service Commission stressed that a vote in favor of the IRP would only approve studying the nuclear option, not plant construction.
- Southern CEO Tom Fanning, whose company owns Georgia Power, told Bloomberg that a public-private partnership may be needed in some markets. “The deregulated markets don’t work; you have to find a way around those,” he said.
Georgia Power's Vogtle station may be behind schedule and over budget, but the utility continues to make the case the plant is economical and necessary, and wants to develop other nuclear projects.
“We are committed to preserving the option to build new nuclear generation to meet customers’ electric needs in the most reliable and cost-effective manner,” company spokesman Jacob Hawkins told The Augusta Chronicle. The state's population is growing, he said, and will add 2.4 million residents in the next 15 years.
The utility included a new nuclear plant in its IRP, and the Chronicle reports it has purchased land in Stewart County, on the Chattahoochee River. But if regulators approve the plan, it would only mean studying the plant at this point.
“The important thing to keep in mind is that if we do ultimately vote on that topic in the IRP, it will be a vote just to study it,” he said. “It’s not a vote whether we move forward or chose not to construct new nuclear in the future.”
Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton stressed Tuesday that no ultimate decision on additional reactors will be made in the vote on the plan that Georgia Power filed this year.
Vogtle is the state's largest job-producing construction project, and has more than 5,000 construction workers onsite. The plant will support 800 permanent jobs once the new units begin operation.
"The Plant Vogtle expansion is the most important infrastructure project currently underway in Georgia and will ensure that our state has clean, safe, affordable and reliable electric energy for decades into the future," Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power, said in a statement this week. "We are committed to managing this important project well and every dollar we have invested has been necessary to complete the new units safely and correctly to best serve our customers."
Bloomberg, reporting from the Future of Energy Summit in New York this week, reported Southern CEO Fanning is focused on the development of more nuclear plants, but said it is impossible in deregulated markets. He wants the federal government to consider a public-private partnership that would get around the difficulties of financing new nuclear.
“The deregulated markets don’t work; you have to find a way around those,” he said.