Fourteen billion dollars has been approved for the construction of two additional nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was visiting the site and said the new construction could help encourage other utilities to also begin building more nuclear energy facilities.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said he thinks the planning of new reactors in America should be slowed, according to CBS News. His reasoning is that, due to the disaster in Japan involving leaks of radiation, new safety standards should be adopted first.
The two new reactors at Vogtle are said to be safer because of technological enhancements. Secretary Chu stated he is very confident a new site to store the nuclear waste will be found soon. Shouldn’t a nuclear power plant know where it will store additional nuclear waste before they begin building new reactors?
One major problem with building more nuclear in Georgia, is that the state has vast solar power potential that isn’t being utilized and solar power has no safety issues. Georgia’s resources for solar power have been said to be double that of Germany, the nation currently leading the world in solar power installations.
Local residents have said the nuclear construction projects have been good for the economy, but 14 billion dollars of government money invested in any project there would probably be beneficial. In other words, it could also be solar, wind, or wave energy projects, or road construction, habitat restoration – any number of things that would employ local workers.
Politics are playing a significant role in determining what kind of energy plants are being constructed. Georgia Power is a regulated monopoly wielding considerable influence. They were able to get a bill passed which required consumers to pay higher rates in order to fund nuclear reactor construction years before they were even built. Jay Bookman wrote, “As a result, you’re now paying higher electricity rates today for plants that won’t provide you with a kilowatt of electricity until 2017, and if that investment goes sour, you — not the company — will be on the hook to repay it.” (Source: Atlanta Constitution Journal)
Image Credit: Charles C Watson Jr