ATLANTA — A group opposed to nuclear power used Tuesday’s 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster to protest outside the Georgia Power headquarters calling for an end to the expansion of Plant Vogtle.
Nuclear Watch South argues that material Georgia Power included in its most recent annual report shows that the demand for electricity is dropping and that the utility doesn’t even use all of its existing generation capacity.
“These data show undeniably that Georgia Power doesn’t need the measly 6 percent increase in capacity that Vogtle 3 and 4 would provide if Georgia Power can even build the reactors at all,” said Glenn Carroll, the advocacy group’s coordinator. “Yet, despite its notoriously poor performance at Vogtle 3 and 4, Georgia Power ‘earned’ a net profit margin of 15.3 percent ($1.26 billion) in 2015.”
Carroll points to a 10-year decline in electricity sales. In the past five years, company profits have increased, which coincides with the construction of two reactors at Plant Vogtle.
Carroll said the Chernobyl anniversary is appropriate because her group has no confidence in the redundant safety measures designed into the new reactors or that U.S. regulators are more effective than the Soviet ones overseeing the reactors in Ukraine that exploded in 1986.
“When I heard that a fissioning nuclear core had spewed its contents into the environment, I knew it was a game-changer,” she said. “I became an activist.”
The Georgia Public Service Commission holds semiannual reviews of the construction at Plant Vogtle. Every other review includes an annual projection by the company on the need for the new reactors and the financial options.
Every time, the PSC has concluded the project should be completed, even as it has fallen three years behind schedule and more than $1 billion over budget.
Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins said the anticipation of a million new residents in Georgia by the year 2021 is the reason more generation is needed.
“Our obligation is to meet this future growth with safe, affordable and reliable energy. The new units at Plant Vogtle will do just that for generations to come,” he said.
He took a shot at the activists.
“Nuclear Watch South continues to spread misinformation about the Vogtle expansion project and nuclear energy in general,” he said. “The fact is that nuclear generation provides 20 percent of the country’s energy – safely and without carbon emissions.”