Plant Vogtle Decision Point: Time To Chart A Different Course
Construction on new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle in Georgia has been underway for 8 years. Now, with the prime contractor in bankruptcy and the project in jeopardy, it’s worth asking the question: is this project still a good idea? Nuclear expansion at Vogtle was approved when electricity demand was growing quickly. However, post-Recession, the economy has gotten more energy-efficient; strong GDP growth is happening without an increase in electricity consumption.
We don't need new nuclear power for grid reliability. At this stage, clean energy options like energy efficiency and utility-scale solar are significantly cheaper ways to meet electricity demand. If a future energy need arises, new nuclear is not, and will not be, the most cost-effective option. Energy efficiency and solar can scale quickly to meet new needs without overbuilding the system.
Investing just one month of Vogtle’s $30 million monthly tab into efficiency programs would reduce customer bills by $250 million over the next decade. With one year of the current Vogtle spending, Georgia could add more than 320 MW of new solar to the grid, resources that could be online and generating carbon-free electricity in just two years.
The bottom line is that Plant Vogtle has priced itself out of the market.