ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday touted the state’s efforts to lure manufacturing firms with its energy policy, saying a recent energy sales tax exemption has brought jobs to Georgia and that a stable supply in the state could bring more.
“All of us understand that Georgia has a great opportunity to restore itself as a manufacturing center in the United States,” Deal said at a meeting of state and business leaders involved in an initiative to develop economic development strategies and make recommendations to the General Assembly.
Last year, state lawmakers approved a plan that eliminated the energy sales tax on manufacturing plants. At the time, only 14 states added the sales tax onto the utility bills of manufacturing plants. Deal said removing that burden has had a direct hand in companies deciding to move to Georgia or expand operations in the state.
Deal said Georgia has opportunities to draw firms from Japan and Germany, where there is some uncertainty about energy supply. Germany is moving away from nuclear power, and Deal said he believes that’s a reason some German companies are looking at Georgia.
Japan, Deal said, is still dealing with the aftermath of the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
“This is a nation that if they do not have the nuclear power, they become a nation that has to import their energy,” Deal said. “We are in a prime position to continue to attract some of the manufacturing efforts that may have been traditionally in Japan.”
During his speech, Deal mentioned the two nuclear reactors under construction at Plant Vogtle and said he planned to tour the facility later Monday. The costs associated with the expansion have prompted debate over who will pay for cost overruns.
Previously, Deal had said it would be a “good solution” if Southern Co. could absorb more of the costs. On Monday, he said those comments were taken “a little bit beyond what I said,” saying he only believes it’s a viable issue to discuss.
“The truth of the matter is that nuclear facilities are very expensive. And the truth of the matter is that they provide very long-term benefits; they’re spread over many, many decades,” he said. “You have to take that all into account.”