The Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that Georgia Power Co. has suspended plans for construction of a nuclear power plant in the southwestern portion of the state, south of Columbus, Ga.
The company informed the state's Public Service Commission (PSC) of its intention to suspend the planning phase of the plant in Stewart County, although the PSC last year authorized Georgia Power to spent up to $99 million on planning efforts for the proposed plant.
The newspaper connected the announcement to Toshiba Corp.'s recent decision to stop constructing nuclear power plants abroad through its Westinghouse Electric Co subsidiary, designer of the AP1000 power plant currently under construction in expansion projects at the Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Waynesboro, Ga., and the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkensville, S.C.
The company said that projected consumer demand was not sufficient to warrant continuing to consider the new plant.
PSC Commissioner Tim Echols defended the decision to authorize funds be spent on a project that might now be a dead end. “A very important part of my job is to ensure we have the energy resources Georgia needs to provide reliable, affordable services to our consumers now and in the future,” he said. “The work completed at the Stewart County site … will help ensure that we have suitable sites available for future generations, whether it is nuclear, natural gas or renewables.”
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The Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery tariff must be revised and independent assessment of opportunity costs must be properly conducted before another NPP is undertaken in Georgia. Only proven designs should be undertaken. "First of a kind" costs and risk should not be passed on to ratepayers like the AP1000. If Molten Salt or Liquid Fluoride Thorium Prototype Reactors are pursued, investors supplemented by government funding should be used to support initial construction and testing; not ratepayers of a specific utility.