Safety questions post-Fukushima have created a significant amount of uncertainty regarding the future of nuclear power in the US, as other countries such as Germany move to ban nuclear power. Construction costs, liability claims and many other factors that affect the cost of building a nuclear plant remain unclear, yet a number of utilities are pushing forward with plans for new reactors.
An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Georgia Power, PSC staff debate Vogtle cost overruns,” examines the process of who would bear the financial burden of cost overruns as Southern Company’s Georgia Power seeks to build two additional reactors at Plant Vogtle. Georgia Power has come out against a proposal that would reduce their allowed profit margin if construction costs exceed the budgeted amount by $300 million. SACE Executive Director, Dr. Stephen A. Smith, was quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article as saying: “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.”
Georgia Power customers already pay, on average, a monthly surcharge of $3.73 to finance the project, and that figure will go up piecemeal through 2015. When Plant Vogtle was originally proposed, the completion of the four reactors was estimated to cost $660 million. Eventually, only two reactors were built, costing more than $8 billion, and resulting in huge rate hikes for residents of Georgia.
To learn more about the financing and construction of Plant Vogtle and SACE’s involvement in opposing the project, visit our Take Action page on Plant Vogtle.
Fortunately we’re also seeing the rapid deployment and planning of clean, renewable energy projects across the Southeast. A recent public forum held by SACE in Myrtle Beach, S.C. explored the potential of wind energy generation along the coast of South Carolina. The well-attended event also garnered significant interest from local media, such as WPDE TV, “Experts say wind energy off coast puts Grand Strand in a ‘Green Rush.’”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), South Carolina can supply between 1,000 MW to 5,000 MW of onshore and offshore wind energy combined by 2030. To help facilitate this transition to wind energy, the DOE awarded $45 million in stimulus money to Clemson University in order to test the potential energy generation from offshore wind turbines in South Carolina. The money from the DOE, combined with private funding, will result in a $100 million project scheduled to start in 2012 at a retired Naval base in Charleston, S.C.
Another article, “Officials ready to sing praises of wind energy,” ran in the The Sun News, a Myrtle Beach newspaper and quoted forum moderator Toni Reale. One of the many benefits to offshore wind and other renewable energy sources is that unlike energy production that relies on coal and oil, it is not necessary to ship fossil fuels across the country or even the world. The Sun News article succinctly makes this point in quoting Reale, “We don’t have to import the wind.”
If you would like to help promote renewable energy in South Carolina, be sure to check out SACE’s Advokit.