In a unanimous agreement last year, the Georgia Public Service Commission and Georgia Power agreed to limit the costs of Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 to electricity consumers in the state.
Completed in July 2023, Plant Vogtle’s Unit 3 reactor will deliver clean, reliable energy to half a million homes and businesses for 60 to 80 years. The reactor was the first new construction in more than 30 years to go online in the United States and represents a new era of clean nuclear power in this country. Unit 4 is expected to come online in 2024.
While the project was the subject of criticism as it came in over budget and construction took longer than expected, the nuclear energy provided by the plants will prove to be a worthy long-term investment for Georgia.
After all, emissions-free nuclear energy can be produced 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Moreover, uranium has an incredible energy density — using 31 times less land than solar and 173 times less land than wind to produce the same amount of clean energy. Nuclear power is one of Georgia’s most plentiful electricity sources, second only to natural gas. Without nuclear energy, Georgians could not keep their lights on, especially as the state’s economy continues booming.
More nuclear energy on the grid benefits the environment and consumers. With energy demand rising and our national energy security in question, abundant, reliable energy should be our priority. Reliable baseload energy justifies high upfront investment, balancing the addition of intermittent renewables on the grid and reducing the likelihood of unplanned or rolling blackouts that can be costly and life-threatening to customers.
There is more work to be done to modernize the nuclear energy industry and innovate our way to lower energy costs while fighting climate change. From Georgia to small modular reactors under construction nationwide, there will be bumps in the road with implementing new technologies. This should not be a reason to stop pursuing nuclear energy.
Fortunately, public opinion is on our side. For the first time in decades, most Americans favor nuclear energy, according to a recent Pew poll. Additionally, more than 90 percent of residents who live near a nuclear power plant have favorable opinions of that plant and nuclear energy generally.
In Georgia, many young people want commonsense environmental and energy solutions, like nuclear power. Thousands of young environmentalists in Georgia are advocating for the expansion of nuclear power. They understand that nuclear energy will be crucial in tackling climate change.
Nuclear energy was even the star of the show at COP28 in Dubai, where more than 20 countries agreed to triple nuclear power capacity by 2050 to help tackle climate change. Currently, China and Russia are dominating the international nuclear energy industry. But projects like Vogtle could reassert American energy dominance on the world stage.
The Vogtle plants might have had their speedbumps, but all groundbreaking, innovative projects do. The fact is that Georgia — and the rest of the country — need nuclear power to reduce emissions and secure a reliable energy future. That’s why the new units are a worthy investment for future generations.