September 26, 2023

Newly-Operational US Nuclear Reactor in Georgia Marks a Milestone – The Associated Press

Title: Unit 3 at Plant Vogtle in Georgia Commences Commercial Operation Amidst Budget Overruns

Plant Vogtle in Georgia celebrates a monumental milestone as Unit 3, the first American nuclear reactor to be constructed from scratch in decades, completes testing and becomes operational. This revolutionary reactor has the capacity to produce a remarkable 1,100 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to powering more than half a million homes and businesses.

However, the completion of Unit 3 arrives seven years behind schedule and with a staggering $17 billion over budget. Unfortunately, this trend continues with Unit 4, which is nearing completion and expected to enter commercial operation by March. The total estimated cost for both reactors now stands at approximately $31 billion, nearly double the initial projection of $14 billion.

Despite its impressive power-generating capabilities, critics argue that the focus should shift towards smaller, more cost-effective nuclear reactors to combat climate change. These reactors can be constructed without the extensive financial burdens and time delays experienced by Plant Vogtle.

Georgia Power’s residential customers are projected to shoulder the burden as part of an ongoing finance charge. Each customer is expected to pay over $926, causing concerns among ratepayers who believe that cheaper alternatives, such as wind and solar power, should have been explored instead. They argue that they should not be held responsible for the construction mistakes that have led to such significant budget overruns.

The responsibility for determining how the remaining costs of Plant Vogtle, including Unit 4, will be distributed falls upon the shoulders of commissioners. Customers will be accountable for their share of prudent spending, while the company and its shareholders will be compelled to bear the consequences of wasteful expenditure.

On this matter, Georgia Power CEO Kim Greene has yet to disclose the exact amount customers will be requested to contribute. However, with the approved rate increase and ongoing finance charge, it is evident that customers will continue to face financial implications due to the construction mishaps at Plant Vogtle.

As the first American nuclear reactor comes online in decades, the celebration is bittersweet. While the completion of Unit 3 marks a significant achievement for Georgia’s nuclear power sector, questions loom over the costly delays and the contribution of ratepayers. Only time will tell how the nuclear power industry will evolve to address the concerns of both power generation and affordability in the face of climate change.