Vogtle Nuclear Project Survives due to Utility Agreements
The effort to build the first new nuclear reactors in the U.S. in the past three decades will tarry on, as the final two of four project co-owners approved continuing work this week.
Oglethorpe Power of Georgia gave its conflicted blessing this week, joining Georgia Power, Municipal Electric Cooperatives of Georgia (MEAG) and Dalton Power. Work on Vogtle units 3 and 4 has survived numerous delays, the bankruptcy of contractor Westinghouse and financial run-ups to $25 billion and maybe more.
Nonetheless, the agreement forged to keep work going at Vogtle is a tremendous relief to a U.S. nuclear power industry which, although it generates close to 20 percent of electricity nationally, has endured numerous plant retirements and abandoned work at South Carolina reactors project last year. If the utilities had abandoned Vogtle another nuclear project might not have been built for decades if ever.
“We are all pleased to have reached an agreement and to move forward with the construction of Vogtle Units 3 & 4 which is critical to Georgia’s energy future,” the utility co-owners said in a statement. “While there have been and will be challenges throughout this process, we remain committed to a constructive relationship with each other and are focused on reducing project risk and fulfilling our commitment to our member-consumers.”
Some customers were not so happy about work continuing at Vogtle. Jacksonville Electric Authority, for instance, previously sued MEAG over rate issues and encouraged the latter to abandon work on the reactors, offering what it called several cost-effective generation alternatives.