Approval of new nuclear reactors near

Eve Troeh Jan 30, 2012

CORRECTION: The original version of this story misstated the number of new nuclear reactors to be built in Georgia. There are two. The headline and text have been corrected.

Adriene Hill: We’re coming up on a year since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. And since then, we haven’t heard much about new nuclear power plants going up anywhere — until now. As soon as this week, regulators are expected to green-light construction of two new nuclear power reactors in Georgia. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Eve Troeh reports.

Eve Troeh: The U.S. hasn’t had a new nuclear reactor in more than more than 30 years, not since the Three Mile Island meltdown. Matthew Bunn at the Harvard Kennedy School says that changed the industry.


Matthew Bunn: Costs escalated through the roof, and public support has not been that great.

It’s been tough to raise the billions needed for new reactors. The Georgia project would add a third and fourth reactor to two already operating. All four will be run by a utility called The Southern Company. It got a financial boost from government subsidies.

Bunn: The hope was to replace dirty coal with cleaner nuclear.

Was the hope. Sam Jaffe at IDC Energy insights says the Georgia nuclear plant is a straggler from old policy, not the start of a trend, because the entire utility industry has a new focus.

Sam Jaffe: We’re quickly heading toward one single generation source, which is natural gas.

Natural gas is cheap right now. Power plants that use it are not hard to build. And while there are public concerns over how we get that natural gas — namely, fracking — people still don’t fear that as much as a nuclear meltdown. I’m Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.