Georgia Power won 4-1 approval (Docket No. 40161)on July 28 from Peach State regulators to spend $99 million in ratepayer funding to study a 7,000-acre site south of Columbus where the utility may someday construct a nuclear power plant.
“We haven’t made that decision yet, but when the time comes, [we want to make sure that] we’ve done our preparation, we’ve done our homework,” Georgia Power spokesperson Jacob Hawkins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In addition, the Atlanta utility plans to roughly triple its reliance on solar power and other renewable energy under an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC). Under the newly approved IRP, Georgia Power will supplement its renewable energy power portfolio by about 1,600 megawatts (MW) by 2021
“I believe this IRP strikes the right balance between ensuring Georgia Power customers have reliable service and the right mix of resources, while at the same time not paying for un-needed resources,” said Commission Chairman Chuck Eaton.
“Adding renewables and nuclear together makes sense,” said Commissioner Tim Echols. “I am committed to keeping rates low and energy plentiful, diverse and clean.”
Georgia Power originally had requested $175 million for the nuclear study and proposed just 525 MW of renewables to be added over three years.
Pushing back, Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald had proposed, unsuccessfully, to delay approving Georgia Power’s nuclear plant study request until 2019, when the first utility’s new Vogtle reactor is supposed to be completed. The project is significantly behind schedule and billions over budget.
“If they are so sure about the prospects of another nuclear program … let their investors make the first investment,” said McDonald, the Constitution reported.
“I don’t see putting ratepayers’ money at risk right now,” he argued. However, the other commissioners did not support his proposal.