Georgia continues to grow, with 2.5-4 Million people expected to be added during the next quarter of a century. Those people (plus those of us who are already here) are going to need electricity. And tighter regulations from DC aren’t making it terribly easy to get that power from coal. What’s a utility to do?
Georgia Power has selected a site in Southwest Georgia – Stewart County to be exact – to begin study that could bring construction of a new nuclear power plant in 2030. Kristi Swartz of EnergyWire/Environment & Energy Publishing has some of the details.
Georgia Power has identified a site in Stewart County that is “suitable for further study and evaluation,” according to a document filed as a response to the Georgia Public Service Commission staff. The staff asked for more information on what, specifically, the company will do over the next five years to preserve nuclear power as an option after it was mentioned in its long-term Integrated Resource Plan.
Georgia Power said it estimates that it will take roughly seven years to secure approval from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and an additional 10 years to gain state regulatory approvals and build. This is without detailed site evaluation, preparation and planning as well as obtaining a litany of additional local, state and federal permits, especially if the reactors have a new design and are on a new site.
The company evaluated its existing Plant Vogtle site, and it was not identified as a site to further study at this time, spokesman Jacob Hawkins said.
This is why the utility said it needs to start now to make sure it can add more nuclear to its fleet during the 2030 decade if necessary. But Georgia Power made it equally clear that this should not be taken as a commitment that the utility would be building those reactors.
You’ll need a subscription to EnergyWire to read the whole story. Your takeaway is this. Plant Votgle’s new reactors will provide electricity for Georgians beginning in a couple of years. Some of that will be new capacity and some will replace retiring coal powered plants. A public utility’s job is to make extremely long term plans that anticipate market conditions well into the future, and plan for them to provide stable and reliable service. In order to do that, Georgia Power will be needing even more capacity within a couple of decades. And that means starting the planning and permitting process now.