U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today praised the administration's approval of the first loan guarantees for the construction and operation of two new nuclear reactors at Vogtle Electric Generating plant in Waynesboro, Ga.
The next step will be for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to act on Southern Co.'s application for a license to build and operate the reactors, and that decision is expected in 2011 or 2012. If approved, it would be the first expansion of nuclear energy in the United States in almost three decades.
"These federal loan guarantees for Plant Vogtle are a good first step in the right direction toward energy independence in this country. I urge the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to act swiftly in approving Southern Company's application to build these new facilities," Isakson said. "Nuclear power is reliable and it emits zero carbon. As I have said repeatedly over the years, it must be part of the solution if we want to meet the goal of reducing carbon and reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil."
"Nuclear power must be part of any equation to meet America's growing energy needs and reduce our dependence on foreign suppliers," said Chambliss, a long-time advocate of nuclear energy. "This announcement represents a step in the right direction. The power generated by Vogtle is safe, reliable, emissions-free and environmentally responsible, and I am pleased the administration approved these loan guarantees to build additional nuclear units."
Isakson has pushed for nuclear power for decades, beginning in the 1970s when he served in the Georgia Legislature and sponsored legislation to reform accounting and construction procedures so that Plant Vogtle could be built.
When Isakson served on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the U.S. Senate, he offered an amendment to an energy bill in 2007 to expand the nation's nuclear energy infrastructure. Isakson's amendment, which was defeated by an 8-11 vote by the Democratic-controlled committee, would have streamlined the licensing of new nuclear plants, created incentives for construction of new plants and domestic manufacturing of nuclear equipment, re-energized the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program and addressed the issue of storing spent nuclear fuel.
Last year, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission renewed the operating licenses for the existing reactors at Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 1 and 2, in Waynesboro, Ga., for an additional 20 years. The new licenses will expire on Jan. 16, 2047, and Feb. 9, 2049, respectively.