2012-02-15 / Front Page

Vogtle gets federal go-ahead

U.S. Energy Secretary tours site
By Anne Marie Kyzer annemariek@thetruecitizen.com

Construction is underway on the Unit 3 cooling tower. Construction is underway on the Unit 3 cooling tower. With Burke County in the spotlight as the site of the U.S.’s first new commercial reactors in more than 30 years, the U.S. Secretary of Energy is in town today (Wednesday) to voice the Obama Administration’s support for nuclear energy.

Dr. Steven Chu will tour the construction site of Plant Vogtle’s units 3 &4 with Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning and Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers.

His visit follows the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) vote last week to approve Plant Vogtle’s combined construction and operating license for units 3 and 4.

Since the expansion of Plant Vogtle was announced seven years ago, company officials have anticipated this final federal license as their ultimate go- ahead to complete the project and begin operation.

The NRC’s approval brought a collective sigh of relief and a round of celebration from Georgia Power and its partners, which include Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will be at Plant Vogtle this morning. U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will be at Plant Vogtle this morning. “Today is a historic day for Southern Company and Georgia Power but moreover this marks a momentous occasion for the citizens we serve in the southeast and the advancement of our nation’s energy policy,” Fanning said in a press conference shortly after the NRC vote.

Much of that sentiment was shared here in Burke County.

“With the renaissance of American nuclear energy starting in our own backyard, this is a historic moment for our community and the CSRA region,” Waynesboro’s Georgia Power Area Manager Lisa Smith wrote in an email to community leaders that afternoon, noting the $14 billion investment by Georgia Power and its partners as well as the 5,000 on-site jobs and 800 additional permanent positions. “Finally, the economic development and tax revenues resulting from the construction and operation of Plant Vogtle will benefit local businesses, workers and the community. Without the support of our community, today’s decision would not have been possible.”

Across the county, businessmen and women ranging from restaurateurs to real estate agents are banking on a local boon.

Just up the river from the plant, Burke resident Doug Rhodes was watching closely for the NRC’s vote and was all smiles the minute he saw the affirmation.

He anticipates the influx of workers will fill his RV park and believes it will spur the economy in Burke and other counties as well.

“I was elated,” Rhodes said. “I think it will be a boost to our economy in Burke County and to the CSRA as a whole.”

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