Georgia’s utility regulators are allowing construction to continue on two new nuclear reactors, despite massive cost overruns for the multibillion-dollar project.
Thursday’s unanimous decision by the state’s Public Service Commission will shape the future of the nation’s nuclear industry, partly because the reactors at Plant Vogtle were the first new ones to be licensed and to begin construction in the U.S. since 1978.
The project, co-owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities, has been plagued by delays and spiraling costs, compounded when the main contractor filed for bankruptcy. Westinghouse Electric Co., the U.S. nuclear unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp., filed for bankruptcy in March.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal praised the PSC’s decision.
“Investing in clean, sustainable energy infrastructure is a worthwhile endeavor that will have a positive economic impact as well,” Deal said in a statement shortly after Thursday’s vote.
“It is important that we stay the course,” he added.
The Sierra Club, meanwhile, slammed the vote, calling the project a disaster. Ted Terry, director of the group’s Georgia chapter, said the project should have been halted.