SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Opposing Risky Plant Vogtle Reactors


plant_vogtle.jpgMore than a dozen new nuclear reactors are currently proposed in the Southeast, including two slated for Plant Vogtle in Georgia. SACE advocates for utilities to embrace safe, clean renewable energy and affordable energy efficiency, rather than build risky new reactors. Despite safety issues and financial uncertainty, especially post-Fukushima, Southern Company’s subsidiary Georgia Power continues to ignore and dispute ongoing concerns and is aggressively pushing forward with construction of new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at Plant Vogtle.

plans to expand Vogtle since discussions began at the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) in 2004. In 2006 and 2008, SACE and our partners took legal action when Southern Company filed for federal licensing permits from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Our efforts around the licensing permits ultimately prevented Southern Company from extensively dredging the Savannah River. As of October 2011, the project does not have an approved combined operating license or certified reactor design.
Original plans for Plant Vogtle in the 1980s included four reactors at an estimated cost of $660 million. Only two reactors were built, at a cost of more than $8 billion. This inflated final price tag led to the largest rate hike Georgia customers had ever experienced. The estimated cost of the two new Vogtle reactors is more than $14 billion, but as ratepayersin Georgia are aware, the final price tag could be much higher. Southern Company’s projection is that Unit 3 will become operational in 2016, and Unit 4 in 2017. Georgia Power customers are already paying, on average, a monthly surcharge of $3.73 to finance the Vogtle project, and that figure will likely increase if Southern Company is not stopped. Thanks to SACE’s advocacy, ratepayers are at least aware of this unjust fee – now identified on electric bills as "Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery."

Attempts to protect ratepayers have consistently been met with delay and opposition. For more than a year Georgia Power fought against a proposal that would reduce their allowed profit margin if construction costs exceeded the budgeted amount by $300 million. As SACE Executive Director Dr. Stephen A. Smith stated in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “The fact that Georgia Power won’t even allow a modest penalty so that they are motivated to stay on schedule and on budget is unacceptable.”

Spending billions on a costly energy option that endangers our health and security, water resources, and the environment is risky and irresponsible. Anti-consumer state legislation that charges customers in advance for some costs associated with new nuclear reactors is unfair. SACE works to protect ratepayers in the Southeast by fighting against this unjust manner of forced investment. Because of these financial, health and safety concerns, SACE believes that Southern Company should instead reduce demand through aggressive energy efficiency programs and invest in safe, clean, renewable energy.