Oglethorpe Power Corp. and its partners said they will continue development of the Vogtle 3 and 4 nuclear power units in Georgia as a means of proving reliable and affordable energy to electric cooperative members.
Citing the benefits of emissions-free nuclear generation, the Oglethorpe Power board of directors agreed Aug. 31 to support completing construction of the 1,100-megawatt reactors in Waynesboro. Oglethorpe Power owns a 30 percent share of Vogtle 3 and 4.
“We believe we must take a long-term view and recognize the benefits of fuel diversity and the price stability of emission-free nuclear power over the next 60 to 80 years, especially when considering the risks of carbon-based fuel volatility and the potential for carbon regulation,” said Mike Smith, president and CEO of Tucker-based Oglethorpe, one of the nation’s largest power supply cooperatives.
The Oglethorpe board also agreed that Georgia Power Co., Southern Company’s largest subsidiary, should act as the agent for the nuclear power plant’s co-owners.
“I applaud the recommendation by Oglethorpe Power and their partners to move ahead with the Vogtle nuclear energy project,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “A diverse fuel mix is vital as electric co-ops work to meet 21st century energy needs and ensure continued access to affordable, reliable power.
“Nuclear energy is an essential source of emissions-free, 24/7 power. The Vogtle reactors will help Georgia’s electric cooperatives diversify their portfolio while protecting America’s leadership in nuclear energy. The decision to continue Vogtle is a win for Georgia electric cooperatives and our national energy security,” added Matheson.
Completion of the reactors came into question when Westinghouse, the project’s original contractor, declared bankruptcy on March 29. Southern Nuclear Corp. took over construction.
Oglethorpe projects its costs of the project to range from $6.5 billion to $7.3 billion.
Georgia electric cooperatives and NRECA are advocating legislation in Congress that would allow not-for-profit co-owners to benefit from production tax credits for nuclear energy projects.
H.R. 1551 passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting Senate consideration. The change would reduce the cost of the Vogtle project by hundreds of millions of dollars for Georgia electric co-op members.
Oglethorpe has more than $10 billion in assets and serves 38 electric membership corporations that together provide electricity to about 4.1 million Georgia residents.
Cathy Cash is a staff writer at NRECA.