Even with the Vogtle project struggling, Georgia Power officials previously contemplated building a third nuclear plant in the state, in addition to Plant Hatch and the expanding Vogtle. The company bought a site in Stewart County, south of Columbus. Three years ago, it studied the land’s potential, spending millions of dollars that was later charged to customers.
The study was halted as Vogtle’s troubles grew and the company concluded it wouldn’t need another nuclear plant as soon as thought. Georgia Power still controls the site and has said it expects to put some kind of operation there in the future.
But on Wednesday, Fanning told analysts that his administration won’t embark on more nuclear.
To further cut carbon emissions, “we do need, as a nation, to continue to invest in nuclear technology. But, for us, that won’t be my administration’s call,” Fanning said. “It will be in the ’30s and ’40s when I think we need to add more nukes.”
He said that would involve a new generation of reactors. Fanning also said that he expects the company’s reliance on coal-powered units to continue to decline. “If you are going to continue to keep coal alive, it must have carbon-capture technology on it.”
Liz Coyle, the executive director of Georgia Watch, a consumer advocacy group that has long warned about the Vogtle’s ballooning costs, questions whether ratepayers should fund another nuclear project incorporating new reactor designs.
“What we don’t want to see is Georgia once again being made the guinea pig … for unproven technologies that end up taking much longer to build and at a significantly higher cost than other forms of generation,” she said.
Tim Echols, an elected member of the state Public Service Commission that regulates Georgia Power, said in an emailed statement that “It is way, way, way too early to be talking about another nuclear plant while Vogtle is being completed.”