A Clean Slate For Vogtle, Clean Energy For Georgia
The Case for Ending Construction at the Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant and Reorienting Policy to Least-Cost, Clean Alternatives
A report by Dr. Mark Cooper, Senior Research Fellow for Economic Analysis, Institute for Energy and the Environment
Georgia is at a crossroads for energy policy. No issue highlights the divergent paths forward like Georgia Power’s ongoing construction of two nuclear power units at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro and just across the border with South Carolina, where construction of the Summer 3 & 4 reactors has been canceled. Construction of these units, which would join two units already operating on the site, has become a political lightning rod, marked by hyperbole and political posturing. This report offers hard numbers to the debate about the construction at Vogtle and outlines a potential path forward in which Georgia invests in cheap, clean energy resources instead of the now-notorious behind-schedule, over-budget project at Vogtle.
This report is the product of considerable analysis by Mark Cooper, a Senior Research fellow of Economic Analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment.
Highlights of his findings include:
- By continuing to pursue construction of the reactors at Georgia Power’s Vogtle facility, the state of Georgia is headed in the wrong direction and will waste at least another $5 billion.
- Utility managers and regulators in Georgia could and should have known by late 2012 that the Vogtle units were uneconomic, not needed, and should have been abandoned.
- Utility bills should not go up another cent because of continued Vogtle construction. Ratepayers have paid enough for this project.
- Past mistakes need not obscure future success. This is a critical opportunity to shift Georgia’s energy future to cheap and clean renewable sources of electricity generation.
- There is no need for additional large electricity generation facilities in Georgia. To the extent that small increments of resources may be needed to meet a future demand for a higher electricity load, distributed generation and energy efficiency options can easily do so.
- Utilities undertaking new nuclear power construction projects have been consistently wrong, making bad decisions based on irrationally optimistic forecasts about construction periods and costs of nuclear energy, while promoting unjustifiably pessimistic views about the prospects for low cost, low carbon renewable energy sources.
- Renewable energy sources in Georgia offer a reliable and affordable path forward, creating a greater return on investment than continued construction of the nuclear units at Plant Vogtle.
- Objections to the reliability of renewables are not grounded in accurate models of energy demand. The costs of renewables continue to fall, while the costs associated with continued nuclear construction continue to rise.