by Gloria Tatum
SHELL BLUFF 3/6/18: As members of Congress clamored last month to pass a spending bill and avoid a second federal government shutdown, much of the public dialogue revolved more around the standoff between Republicans and Democrats than the contents of the bill.
But for residents of Shell Bluff, a majority-Black, rural community on Georgia’s eastern border, the outcomes are clear. And they’re dire. Among the bill’s many provisions is a measure to extend a tax credit program that was previously set to expire. The program will allocate $800 million to prop up a nuclear power boondoggle that has been plaguing Shell Bluff and the surrounding area for years.
Situated in Burke County on the Savannah River, which forms the Georgia-South Carolina border, Shell Bluff is home to the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, commonly known as Plant Vogtle. Owned largely by Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, Plant Vogtle has supplied the state with electricity generated by two nuclear reactors since the 1980s.
In 2009, Georgia’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved plans to construct two additional reactors at the plant, and allowed Georgia Power to charge ratepayers up front for the construction cost. In so doing, the PSC ignored devastating health and environmental effects the nuclear plant had wrought. In the years following, the PSC would also turn a blind eye to massive cost overruns and construction delays, greenlighting the project to continue in spite of numerous red flags.
The expansion of a Georgia nuclear power plant that fired up dreams for a carbon-free nuclear renaissance in the U.S. has turned into a quagmire of setbacks, financial woes, uncertainty and frustration. by Pam Wright
5/23/17: Cornelia Stumpf has had enough.
The Savannah resident joins more than 2 million other Georgia Power customers who collectively pay a reported $23 million a month for the construction of two new and highly controversial nuclear reactors that may never produce a single kilowatt of energy.
The new reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, 30 minutes south of Augusta, were the first approved in the U.S. in 30 years, and they were expected to revive the nation’s nuclear power industry, ushering in an era of carbon-free energy to help control climate change. But the expansion at Plant Vogtle has become an expensive boondoggle for the company and its customers.
“What is upsetting to me is, in the end, I’m just one person and it’s added up to $700 in the six years since they began charging it,” says Stumpf, a conscientious consumer of energy who is speaking from her office on a 90-degree afternoon in May with the air conditioner off.
Georgia Power, a subsidiary of the Southern Company, implemented the 7 percent surcharge in 2011 after lawmakers gave the utility permission to charge customers for the construction of the project. The charge appears on consumer’s bill as “Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery.” So far Georgia Power has reportedly collected nearly $2 billion from the surcharge.