Originally created 05/21/05

SRS might be home to new nuclear plant



A consortium of power companies has identified Savannah River Site as a possible location for the nation's first new nuclear power plant in two decades.

Southern Co.'s Plant Vogtle in Burke County was not on the list of six possible sites.

A nuclear power plant located within the bounds of SRS could bring an economic boost to Aiken County in the form of about 700 jobs, said Fred Humes, the executive director of the Aiken-Edgefield County Economic Development Partnership.

NuStart Energy Development LLC, a consortium of the nation's largest power providers, plans by October to select two sites from its list, released Thursday, and then start the lengthy construction application process.

The site selection process will begin this summer, when NuStart sends teams to evaluate the sites on 75 factors, according to a media release from the company.

"I think we have a good chance, we'll have to wait and see what the folks at NuStart think," Mr. Humes said.

The company said it also will look at what incentives state and local officials might tender to sweeten the deal for NuStart, which is seeking a government response by August 15.

Mr. Humes said Aiken County will work closely with NuStart and the local community to help make SRS home to a new nuclear power plant.

"We're going to treat it as we would any economic development project; I think the only difference in this case is that we have a good deal ... more community involvement," he said.

The plant would be constructed within the bounds of the 300-square-mile installation at a location to be chosen by the Department of Energy, Mr. Humes said.

The fact that SRS is secure, has defined boundaries and is between high-demand areas such as Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Jacksonville, Fla., makes it an ideal site for a nuclear power plant, he said.

NuStart was created because most nuclear power companies consider the stringent regulatory processes associated with building a nuclear plant too much of a risk for any one company.

The group was formed so that power companies could share the costs.

NuStart expects to narrow the list to two in October. SRS is the only one of the six that does not have an existing generating facility and the transmission lines to connect to the electricity grid.

"When we look into just costs associated with all of these plants, we would look at what's the cost in Savannah River's case to either establish a transmission system or in the others to upgrade an existing one to be able to handle the increase of electricity," NuStart President Marilyn Kray said.

Although Plant Vogtle was not included on NuStart's list, that doesn't mean it is not being considered. Executives with Southern Co., a member of the NuStart consortium, have indicated they are interested in the potential for a new facility at Plant Vogtle or Plant Farley in Dothan, Ala.

Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power owns the majority of the plant located near Waynesboro.

Sara Barczak, an opponent of new nuclear licenses in Georgia, said she had mixed emotions while reading NuStart's finalist list Friday.

"At first it was like, whew, relief, but then I realized that they (Southern Co.) can pursue it on their own," said Ms. Barczak, the safe energy director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

She said her concern was the cost that building a new facility would have on the state's taxpayers and electricity customers.

Reach Adrian Burns at (706) 823-3352 or adrian.burns@augustachronicle.com.

Possible locationsNustart's nuclear plant candidates - Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Northeast Alabama, owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority - Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, Port Gibson, Miss., owned by Entergy Nuclear - River Bend Nuclear Station, St. Francisville, La., owned by Entergy Nuclear - Savannah River Site, a Department of Energy facility - Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, Md., owned by Constellation Energy - Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in Scriba, N.Y., owned by Constellation EnergySource: NuStart Energy Development LLC