Georgia Power parent company might build another nuke plant

Southern Company, which operates Plant Vogtle near Augusta, might build another nuclear generating plant and could initiate licensing requests as early as 2011.

“The forecast date is 2011, but that is an early estimate to support some long-range planning,” company spokeswoman Beth Thomas said. “We’re not committed to submit in the 2011 time frame.”

In addition to Vogtle, Southern Company also operates nuclear Plant Hatch in Baxley, Ga.; and the Farley Plant near Dothan, Ala.

Ms. Thomas said it would be premature to discuss site locations for a new plant.

“We are continuing to evaluate our needs, so we’re not really far enough along in the proces to determine when or where,” she said. “Our major focus right now remains on the Plant Vogtle project and we’re continiong to work through the licensing effort.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is in the final strages of evaluating Southern’s application for an early site permit and combined operating license that would allow construction of two additional reactors at Vogtle.

Approval of an early site permit is expected this year and the project could receive its combined license in 2011. The new units, to be manufactured by Westinghouse, could be online in 2016 or 2017.

Ms. Thomas said factors that will influence the eventual decision on a new plant will include energy demand, population growth in the region and service area and the availability of financing.

Obtaining permits for new nuclear plants is similar to the process already under way for the Vogtle expansion, NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said.

“There would be a combined operating license review process, regardless of whether it was a new site or old site,” he said. “In addition, there are a lot of other things besides our review that go into these projects such as water permits, infrastructure, all the things that go with a large industrial facility.”

Typically, nuclear plant sites built with current technology require a amount of water—a lake, river, reservoir or even the ocean.

Such plants also are usually located reasonably close to population centers that create the energy demand.

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