The Georgia Public Service Commission is once again holding hearings and taking public testimony on the merits of proceeding with construction of Units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle. This week’s Vogtle Construction Monitoring (VCM) hearings have, as usual, included spirited debate, sometimes set to ukulele music. (As Florida’s sage Dave Barry used to say, “I am not making that up.”)
As the Commissioners and staff continue to closely and responsibly examine the costs and timelines for the massive construction project, they are being bombarded with half-truths and histrionics. But there are just as many rational voices in the debate, including that of Georgia’s esteemed former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn.
In November 2017, Sen. Nunn, who has devoted his post-congressional service to studying nuclear issues and global security, authored a memo applauding the Vogtle partners’ “unity and determined commitment to overcome remaining obstacles and to complete this important project which will be a long-term asset for Georgia and for our nation.”
Sen. Nunn continued, “There are many reasons to support commercial nuclear energy including – jobs created through nuclear construction – meeting the needs of citizens added to our rolls through Georgia’s dynamic growth – and providing for a diversity of electric options that assure power delivery over the long haul. From a climate change perspective, zero carbon nuclear power is important in its own right and as a backup for growing renewable sources of energy, including wind and solar.” He continued, saying that “…a viable commercial nuclear energy enterprise in the United States is essential to our national security.”
Sen. Nunn also quoted and strongly agreed with former Obama Administration Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who has said, “Nuclear power development is a critical factor in global security. U.S. national security is enhanced if the public and private sectors work in tandem to shape the global spread of nuclear energy consistent with energy security, safety, environmental stewardship and geopolitical stability.”
A similar opinion is expressed by University of Georgia Associate Professor David Gattie, who writes in The Hill, “With respect to nuclear power and U.S. national security, the U.S. electric power sector is a vital and critical infrastructure. The absence of a vibrant and robust civilian nuclear power sector would risk reducing the United State’s position of dominance and influence over the global nuclear energy cycle, which is the foundation to nuclear safety and nonproliferation.”
Debate will continue this week at the PSC, but so will construction at the Vogtle site. Every day, Georgia gets closer to a resource that will serve its citizens with safe, affordable, reliable energy for decades to come. I’m not making that up and neither are Sen. Nunn, Sec. Moniz, or the hundreds of witnesses across the years who have provided data that support moving Units 3 and 4 forward.