In the wake of Toshiba’s financial meltdown, Georgia Power discussed at a hearing before the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) the utility’s decision to suspend activities associated with pursuing new nuclear reactors in Stewart County, Georgia along the Chattahoochee River. Georgia Power summarized the decision in a document filed late Tuesday with the Commission. The Japanese tech-mogul Toshiba, which owns Westinghouse and is the designer and builder of the AP1000 nuclear reactor design, announced last month that it was exiting the nuclear construction business due to the massive financial losses suffered because of the much-delayed and over-budget reactors under construction at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle in Georgia and SCANA’s V.C. Summer nuclear plant in South Carolina.
Last summer, during Georgia Power’s long-range energy planning process, known as the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the Commission committed ratepayers to a $99 million plus financing costs bill for the utility to investigate the Stewart County site and develop a federal license application for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to potentially build two AP1000 reactors. Only Commissioner Bubba McDonald opposed the measure. The controversial proposal raised serious economic and environmental concerns given the excessive costs experienced at Plant Vogtle and the highly water-intensive technology, which would require massive amounts of water from the already stressed Chattahoochee River, center of the contentious, decades-long Tri-State Water War with neighboring Alabama and Florida. The proposal prompted the Georgia Water Coalition to select the new nuclear power plant proposal as a “Dirty Dozen” culprit in their most recent report.
Below is a statement on today’s development from Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), a clean energy organization that closely participated in the 2016 long-range energy planning process and voiced opposition to the Stewart County proposal.
“We appreciate that Southern Company has pulled back on the Stewart County nuclear proposal, which was clearly a bad deal for the citizens of Georgia. It’s outrageous that Southern Company has already spent more than $50 million ratepayer dollars on this proposal since the IRP was finalized just seven months ago. Southern Company already has ratepayers paying too much for the over budget and behind schedule Vogtle nuclear units The developing story about the financial meltdown of Toshiba/Westinghouse only means more bad news for Georgia ratepayers. The proposed Stewart County nuclear units were nothing more than ‘financial insult to injury’ on the people of Georgia. We need more oversight on the run away costs at Vogtle, not another blank check in Stewart County.”