New Nuclear Reactors Set to Be OK’d for Georgia
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to approve licenses to build to two new nuclear reactors Thursday, the first approvals in over 30 years.
The reactors are being built in Georgia by a consortium of utilities led by Southern Co. (SO, Fortune 500) They will be sited at the Vogtle nuclear power plant complex, about 170 miles east of Atlanta. The plant already houses two older reactors.0
Spokespeople for Southern Co. and the NRC were quiet on the matter Wednesday ahead of the vote set for Thursday at 1 PM ET. If approved, NRC staff would likely issue a construction and operating license within the next few days.
Although new nuclear reactors have been built in this country within the last couple of decades — the last one started operation in 1996 — the NRC hasn’t issued a license to build a new reactor since 1978, a year before the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania. The reactors that have opened in the last decades were approved before 1978.
The combination of the Three Mile Island incident and the high costs of nuclear power turned many utilities away from the technology.
There are currently 104 operating nuclear reactors at 64 plants across the country that provide the nation with roughly 20% of its power. Half are over 30 years old.