Quantcast

Betraying Ratepayers and Clean Energy Future, Georgia Panel Approves Vogtle Nuclear Reactors

Energy
Federal regulators observe Vogtle Unit 3's liquid processing tanks inside the reactor building in Georgia. Nuclear Regulatory Commission / Flickr

By Jessica Corbett

Georgia's public utility commission voted 5-0 on Thursday to continue construction on two half-finished nuclear reactors that will cost an estimated $25 billion, even though the project is now "more than $10 billion over budget and five years late."

Opponents of nuclear power were disappointed by the unanimous decision, which the Wall Street Journal noted was considered "a victory for Southern Co., whose subsidiary Georgia Power is the primary owner of the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, which has two existing reactors." The project has faced opposition from local residents as well as national groups that emphasize the long-term risks of nuclear power.


"Georgia Power should scrap this disaster immediately and instead transition away from dangerous nuclear and fossil fuel-based electric generation and toward a 100 percent clean energy economy that creates good jobs, protects our environment, and shields our communities from the gross financial risks associated with bad bets like Vogtle," said Ted Terry, director of the Sierra Club's Georgia Chapter, after the vote.

"Georgia Power's profits have soared because they've been allowed to pick the pockets of families, schools and churches for a boondoggle that even the [public utility commission's] staff has called too uneconomic to continue—yet today commissioners chose not to stop it," Terry added. "The commission has failed Georgia's hard-working families and businesses today by choosing to be lapdogs for Georgia Power instead of watchdogs for the people of Georgia."

Construction on the reactors "has been plagued by delays and spiraling costs, compounded when the main contractor filed for bankruptcy" in March, the Associated Press reported.

"Most people have to pay for their mistakes, but Georgia Power is still profiting from theirs," said Kurt Ebersbach, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. "There's something wrong with a system that rewards this kind of failure."

The decision will likely "shape the future of the nation's nuclear industry, partly because the reactors at Plant Vogtle were the first new ones to be licensed and to begin construction in the U.S. since 1978," the AP noted—all while consumers of power in Georgia pay the price.

"Under state law, Georgia Power's 2.4 million customers will ultimately reimburse the state-regulated monopoly for the flagship plant as they pay their monthly electricity bills," the AP explained. "That law allows Georgia Power to charge its customers now for the interest it pays on the borrowed money needed for the project. Under an older law, the utility had to wait until the plant was operating to collect those interest charges from its customers, a practice that meant the interest owed grew during the construction period."

"Even though customers had no control over Georgia Power's mistakes, they're going to be the ones footing the bill," said Nathaniel Smith, chief equity officer at the Atlanta-based nonprofit Partnership for Southern Equity. "These impacts will be especially difficult on the most vulnerable Georgians who are already struggling to put food on the table."

However, there may still be hope for cancelling the project. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia utility regulators "conditioned their approval of the Vogtle nuclear project on no small caveat: that Congress approves roughly $800 million worth of tax credits"—meaning that if federal lawmakers don't approve the tax credits, the state regulators may reconsider their decision.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less