Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia Power Gets Nod to Put Its Nuke Plans on a Fast-Track Schedule; but the PSC Wants a Back-Up Plan in Case the Proposal Falls Through

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Georgia Power Gets Nod to Put Its Nuke Plans on a Fast-Track Schedule; but the PSC Wants a Back-Up Plan in Case the Proposal Falls Through

Article excerpt

Byline: VICKY ECKENRODE

ATLANTA - State utility regulators approved Georgia Power's effort to explore additional nuclear power as long as the company provides a back-up plan if the project does not happen.

The five Georgia Public Service Commissioners unanimously signed off on the company's overall long-term energy plan Thursday. The board accepted a last-minute agreement forged among the electric utility and 10 other groups representing consumers, environmental advocates and factories.

"The parties looked at one another and said, 'We've got to plan for the future,'" Commissioner Stan Wise said about the cross section of support behind the compromise.

Every three years, Georgia Power is required to file an Integrated Resource Plan, or IRP, to outline its power generation supplies as well as how it influences customer demand for electricity.

The utility is seeking state and federal approval to build two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle south of Augusta to expand its power generation.

Georgia Power owns the plant along with Oglethorpe Power Corp., the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities.

In the IRP, Georgia Power initially asked for a waiver from the rules requiring it to put new nuclear or coal generation up for a bidding process.

The agreement Georgia Power signed onto Thursday did not exempt the company from the bidding process but put it on a fast-track schedule so the nuclear expansion proposal can be compared with other energy options to see what will be most cost-effective for customers who likely will fund any new power units through their rates.

"That was a major compromise on the part of the company," Commission Chairman Bobby Baker said about denying the waiver. "They backed off on that part."

Though the IRP agreement states it is reasonable for Georgia Power to investigate expanding nuclear power, it also requires the company to have a back-up plan by January in case the proposal falls through. …

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