Georgia is leading the way toward a sustainable energy future

  • Follow Opinion columns

America’s energy future is at a crossroads. The Energy Information Administration projects that our country’s electricity demand will increase 28 percent by 2040. Meeting this demand means investing in short-term solutions like natural gas, but we must continue to invest in long-term, affordable electricity options such as nuclear energy as well.

Although natural gas power plants are being built in many parts of the country, two nuclear reactors are under construction in Burke County to meet Georgia’s growing thirst for power. States are approaching energy issues in their own way. In Georgia, this investment in nuclear energy shows a commitment towards a balanced, sustainable energy future.

Nuclear energy produces more than 25 percent of Georgia’s electricity, making it the single largest source of carbon-free energy in our state. Nuclear energy provides nearly two-thirds of the United States’ carbon-free energy, highlighting the important role that this resource plays in reducing air pollution and protecting our environment.

FURTHERMORE, NUCLEAR energy provides 24/7 large-scale electricity at industry-leading efficiency to support economic growth as well as our household needs.

Our economic future will hinge on decisions we make over the next few years. To that end, energy is not just how we light and cool our homes. Building the energy portfolio for future decades creates high-paying jobs, maintains U.S. competitiveness overseas and ensures that we will have a reliable, affordable electricity portfolio for future generations.

In 2010, nuclear energy facilities employed more than 4,180 Georgians, paid $160 million in wages and $60 million in state and local taxes. Furthermore, the construction of the two reactors at Plant Vogtle will create 5,000 additional jobs and contribute millions in new wages paid.

The nuclear industry provides a vital economic lifeline in Georgia. Utilities such as Georgia Power are reaching out to the minority community to make sure that all Georgians have opportunities to be a part of our dynamic energy future. Last year, the Georgia Minority Suppliers Development Council named Georgia Power the “Corporation of the Year.”

Some opponents of nuclear energy have pointed to what they perceive as high capital costs when compared to other electricity sources. In the short run, low natural gas prices mean that it’s cheaper to build a natural gas-powered plant. However, nuclear is not vulnerable to price fluctuations or supply disruptions that can affect natural gas and renewable sources of energy. When viewed over the 60-year window during which nuclear energy facilities will operate, these facilities are one of the most economical sources of electricity available.

IT’S IMPORTANT for Georgians to be a part of the ongoing discussion about energy and the role nuclear energy plays today and in that future. When faced with an economy that is still recovering and the need to lower emissions, the benefits of nuclear energy become clearer. Nuclear energy won’t solve all of our problems, but coupled with conservation it provides the clearest path to a stable, diversified electricity portfolio and a cleaner energy future.

Georgia has made serious progress toward long-term energy solutions, reliable electricity and environmental preservation while adding jobs and growing its economy. Georgia’s leaders should stress conservation while continuing to grow clean, affordable and reliable nuclear energy as a part of the state’s electricity mix.

(The writers are, respectively, co-chairwoman of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, a former governor of New Jersey and a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and the president and CEO of the Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council.)

Comments (5) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Bodhisattva 08/25/13 - 06:17 am
Just how concerned are you

Just how concerned are you about regulating when you know you're going to step down and get the big bucks from the very industries you were supposed to regulate? From head of EPA to working for a branch of the NEI (Nuclear Energy Institute), a front group of the nuclear industry. I'm sure their lobbying dollars were well spent. Since the NEI used to hire a PR company to pay ghost writers to write pro-nuclear op-eds in local papers, the Chronicle might want to double check the authorship of this piece.

"In 2006, aiming to promote a "nuclear renaissance," the NEI enlisted public-relations giant Hill & Knowlton, which, back in Atoms for Peace days, commanded Big Tobacco's siege on the science linking smoking to cancer. Hill & Knowlton in turn hired Moore and former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman as its public front. On April 24, 2006, two days before the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl meltdown, it launched the Clean and Safe Energy (casenergy) Coalition to spread the nuclear gospel, with Moore and Whitman at the helm.

The industry has attempted this sort of thing before. In 1998, the Better Business Bureau censured as false advertising an nei ad campaign promoting nuclear power as environmentally clean. In 2004, the nei hired Potomac Communications Group to ghostwrite op-eds supporting storage of nuclear waste at Nevada's Yucca Mountain. Even Moore in his Greenpeace days warned of "very high-powered public relations organizations" on the industry payroll. "One can no more trust them to tell the truth about nuclear power than about which brand of toothpaste [to buy]," he wrote in 1976.

Moore and Whitman's early reputations—George W. Bush named Whitman his first epa chief as a sort of compromise with the green community—would make them ideal industry boosters were it not for their histories of selling green credibility to corporate pariahs. For 17 years, largely through his consulting firm Greenspirit Strategies, Moore has advocated for logging, mining, chemical, biotech, and plastics industries. His former peers now call him an "eco-Judas."

carcraft 08/25/13 - 08:02 am
Bod, what is your point? We

Bod, what is your point? We have two choices that work right now, carbon based technologies or nuclear. We do have third option which is to sit in our dark hovels and caves rubbing sticks together, if you can find sticks. Natural gas and coal gasification does get short shrift, but since Obama is shutting down coal fired plants...OH never mind

deestafford 08/25/13 - 08:46 am
We could be totally energy independent and an export of all

types of energy within a few years if we would just unlease the private market. If we used our coal, drilled off shore, and opened up federal lands for exploration we would have a booming economy which would be the envy of the world. All of this is prevented by a splineless president and a bunch of environmental wackos.

There is too much land owned by the federal government and in some cases humans are not allowed on it. I think Nevada is over 90% owned by the feds. That's stupid.

Energy exploration and production can be done with no harm to the environment;but, we have some nuts who won't be happy unless the human race was wiped off the earth because we are a cancer on " mother earth''. The Bible says the Lord gave us dominion over the earth and we have stewardship over our use of it.

Solar and wind are pipe dreams and are not feasible for wide scale usage.

Once again, it's all about power over the lives of the "stupid".

TrukinRanger 08/25/13 - 09:08 am
I'm currently "for" nuclear -

I'm currently "for" nuclear - but only until we come up with other forms of energy that is pollution free. As stated in the article, nuclear is carbon free- but leaves a heck of a lot of radioactive waste that just can't be thrown in a dump. The words "Clean and Safe energy coalition" is hypocritical in so many ways- most ways of getting energy are NOT clean and destroy the environment... (Fukushima!!!!). Energy companies have had a stranglehold on the world and as long as they are raking in high profits they have no reason to research new ways to get energy. Technology in this field (and many others) have been stagnant for too long.

GiantsAllDay 08/25/13 - 10:57 am
Ms Whitman = dumb [filtered word]

This story is only 9 hours old. This radioactive water is now in the Pacific Ocean and headed our way:
I mean god dammmmit! Do I really have to believe that my fellow Georgians are stoooopid enough to buy into this BS?? I hold an NRC senior reactor operators license and I worked at SRS for 25 years. I know whereof I speak.

localguy55 08/26/13 - 07:12 am
Coal, Oil, Natural Gas, and Nuclear Power

Coal, Oil, Natural Gas, and Nuclear Power are our future, unless some of you tree huggers can come up with something like cold fusion, which if feasable, will come from one of the above industries before any environmentalist group. If these tree hugging groups had their way, they would run around in gas guzzlers while outlawing them for everyone else. Elitist, brainwashing jerks one and all.

SCEagle Eye
SCEagle Eye 08/26/13 - 01:55 pm
big lie theory doesn't work

As much as they want to wave their arms and whine that nuclear power is sustainable doesn't change the facts one iota that it's not sustainable and is a dirty energy source. Applying the big lie theory - repeat something enough and it will be taken as truth - will never work when making false claims such as those in the column written by at least one author paid by the nuclear industry to be a propagandist.

JimHopf 08/26/13 - 08:47 pm
Nuclear Risks/Impacts Minimal

No energy sources have zero health or safety risk, zero environmental impact or zero net CO2 emissions, but almost all scientific studies show that nuclear's public health risks, environmental impacts and net CO2 emissions are all tiny compared to fossil fuels and similar to renewables.

Worldwide, pollution from fossil fueled power generation (mainly coal) causes several hundred thousand deaths and several hundred thousand dollars in economic costs, every single year. Fukushima, the only significant release of pollution in non-Soviet nuclear power's entire ~50-year history, had no measurable health impact and a total economic cost that is less than that inflicted annually by fossil fuels. In the US, nuclear plants have never had any impact at all, while fossil plants cause ~13,000 annual deaths and are the leading cause of global warming.

Given the above, any statement that nuclear is a "dirty" energy source is demonstrably false. As for sustainability, we have thousands of years of low-cost uranium available, even w/o breeding or reprocessing. The notion that Fukushima could have any impact at all in the US is utterly comical. The radioactivity released into the Pacific by Fukushima is millions of times smaller than the overall natural radioactivity present in the ocean. As for shills/stooges, anyone who actively opposes nuclear is effectively shilling for the fossil fuel industry, whether they know it or not; fossil fuels being thousands of times worse than nuclear.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs