In past years, Energy Fairness has consistently reinforced the need for new nuclear construction in the U.S. as a way of meeting future energy demand and satisfying carbon emissions targets. Our advocacy has included supporting the completion of Plant Vogtle in Georgia, which was the topic of testimony delivered by Energy Fairness to the Georgia Public Service Commission in December 2016.
Now, we join in celebrating a new milestone at Plant Vogtle. Earlier today, the “Top Head” of the containment vessel was set at Unit 3 of the plant. In basic terms, that means the lid on the nuclear machine gets welded on – a lid that weighs745 tons. With this placement, all the major components of nuclear power generation are in the machine.
This milestone is certainly worthy of recognition, which is why Cabinet Energy Secretary Rick Perry will be on hand to witness it. After all, this project has been the most complex and expensive in Georgia’s history, challenged by contractor bankruptcy, delays associated with being first movers, and the complexities of restarting an industry that has been dormant in America for thirty years. The setting of the “Top Head” goes well beyond engineering; it means nuclear power in the U.S. may have turned a corner.
Why does new nuclear matter so much? Georgia’s own former U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell frequently would say that capital does not flow toward uncertainty. The past decade in Georgia has proven that the opposite is also true. Because of a good business climate and low-cost and reliable energy, companies like Kia and Caterpillar, and most recently a lithium ion battery plant, have all come to Georgia. Georgia’s power grid and various energy producers have helped animate an industrial renaissance in the state. Plant Vogtle, once completed, will energize not only these manufacturers, but the jobs of the future for the next half-century, or more.
Beyond the local value, our nation needs nuclear. Plant Vogtle keeps the U.S. in the nuclear energy mix as competitor nations like Russia and China have pursued commercial nuclear power in an aggressive manner. This nuclear progress is also a harbinger of things to come as new and innovative nuclear technologies like small modular and molten salt come to the fore.
This victory has many authors and a number of leaders deserve applause, including Presidents Obama and Trump, three Governors, the Georgia Legislature and Congressional delegation, the Georgia Public Service Commission, and the state’s utilities that have been leaning in, at great risk, for a decade. We look forward to celebrating future milestones as Plant Vogtle inches ever closer to powering homes and businesses.