Georgia Power forges ahead with expensive nukes

Would you buy two new nukes from a company that ran over budget by a factor of 13 last time it built nuclear reactors at the same site? When one of those reactors got shut down for days a couple mnths ago? When another reactor even closer to us was discovered leaking radioactivity into our aquifer? A company that got the state to agree it could keep all its profit and socialize any cost overruns by passing them on to you, the customers? Well, Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers thinks you should trust such a company to build nukes for gapower’s profit you!

Today in the VDT David Rodock wrote, Georgia Power discusses nuclear, solar, energy costs

Georgia Power president and CEO Paul Bowers visited Valdosta late last week to talk nuclear energy, solar and what the company has been doing to cut energy costs for their customers.
Yet another dignitary visits without telling the public first.

Anyway, much of the story is about how cost-effective and safe Bowers says nuclear is. If it’s really so safe, why did Vogtle 1 shut down for four days in August, only two days after an NRC meeting “to discuss Plant Vogtle’s annual safety evaluation and assessment”? That would be the same NRC that keeps extending “safe” lifetimes of Vogtle and Hatch, which are past their original intended lifetimes.

Plant Hatch, which in September was discovered to be leaking radioactive tritium into the groundwater about 90 miles from here. Into the same aquifer we drink out of. Not to worry: Bowers told the Savannah South Rotary it’s not a problem. Funny how he doesn’t seem to have mentioned it here.

Back to Bowers in Valdosta:

In an effort to diversify their portfolio and meet customer’s demands for alternative energy, solar is still an option. Bowers believes the technology will be cost-effective in the next few years, but right now it’s at 15-17 cents per kilowatt hour.
Well, it’s an option because the GA PSC has required gapower to buy 50 MW solar by 2015 And the price Bowers mentions is what they required gapower to pay, in order to stimulate the solar market.

More dilly-dallying:

“It’s coming down,” said Bowers. “The big debate is whether customers are willing to subsidy to bridge to the technology. It’s still not as competitive to the normal generation of gas, but we’ll continue to see the cost per unit go down. They’re going to be able to compete for a slice of that generation, bid in and be competitive and we’ll select them.”
Maybe this is what the CEO of gapower’s parent company, the Southern Company meant when he, Thomas Fanning, said he was “bullish” on solar: some day they’ll get around to doing something about it.

If Georgia Power or the Southern Company spent $14 billion on solar instead of on nuclear, I wonder if that might speed up the price drop in solar? Meanwhile, solar has Moore’s Law going for it, with prices continually decreasing over time per watt generated. Nuclear does not. In North Carolina, solar already became less expensive than nuclear last year. That’s when you take construction costs into account, not just operating costs.

More from gapower’s Bowers:

“The government is stimulating for renewables to give them a running chance but, when you remove them, the question is can they run on their own two feet?” said Bowers.
Very amusing for a company that got the Georgia PSC to say it could pass all cost overruns for Vogtle plant construction over to its customers so gapower could get a guaranteed profit. For a company that already raised its customers rates to subsidize those plants even before they’re constructed. Given that most Georgians get their electricity from Georgia Power, I’d call that a tax by another name.

How big a tax? Well, back when Vogtle was first built, there were supposed to be four reactors costing $660 million. Result? Two reactors costing $8.87 billion.


1 thought on “Georgia Power forges ahead with expensive nukes

  1. Michael Noll

    Thanks for posting this John!
    Mr. Bowers’ visit and his comments are almost comical, particularly his quote that “the government is stimulating for renewables to give them a running chance but, when you remove them, the question is can they run on their own two feet?”
    A good question! Fact is that neither coal nor nuclear would be able to “run on their two own feet” if it wasn’t for the large subsidies both have received for decades. Now these are nicely hidden subsidies so that the average consumer thinks he is getting a bargain, without realizing that it is us, the consumers, who have actually paid for this “inexpensive rate”.
    At the same time truly renewable and clean energies like solar have received little subsidies and produce NO air pollution and NO radioactive waste or leaks!
    As you already pointed out: solar is cheaper than nuclear!
    The nuclear industry for decades has received enormous subsidies!
    Lastly, Mr. Bowers is missing an important part of our energy puzzle: energy conservation and energy efficiency! Why? Because he is in the business of selling energy, not saving it.
    Michael G. Noll, President
    Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy (WACE)
    P.S.: Nice guest column in today’s VDT John! Will you publish it too on this blog?

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