Debate over Senate Bill 31, which would subsidize Georgia Powers multi-billion dollar expansion of Plant Vogtle with a customer rate hike paid years in advance, has missed an important reason for opposing it.
By approving SB31, Georgia legislators would be locking in Georgia energy customers to an unwise decision that cannot be justified in light of proven alternatives that are cleaner, cheaper, and more readily implemented.
Contrary to much misinformation spread during this debate, in a free market nuclear power could not survive. Enormous public subsidies shore up the nuclear industry and always have. Without the federal government assuming liability risks and the lions share of costs for research, processing, storing, and transporting radioactive materials, there would be no nuclear industry.
At the same time, publicity about Georgias significant offshore wind potential has been curiously subdued. A 2007 Georgia Tech study found that there is 10,000 megawatts of continuous offshore wind power available for conversion to electricity using existing technology.
Thats the equivalent of 10 large power plants worth of electricity from clean and free fuel. And that power could be put online in a fraction of the time it would take to build the nukes at Vogtle.
Offshore wind is used throughout northern Europe, where it now provides some 20% of power needs. And at least three states on the eastern seaboard are actively developing offshore wind programs.
If SB31 is passed, the energy market in Georgia will be unwisely forced into supporting nuclear power, delaying the far more prudent use of wind power here for decades. During that time, other states will gain a competitive edge by capturing renewable energy, which will attract business and jobs that turn away from states with high-priced nuclear power.
SB31 underwrites a foolish commitment to obsolete technology that simply cannot compete in a free market when wind and other renewable sources are readily available. Georgia Power will be the only beneficiary at the expense of Georgia consumers.
David Kyler, Executive Director
Center for a Sustainable Coast
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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