Politics of Nuclear Expansion in Georgia

Bryant Johnson
March 15, 2016

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2016


Fig. 1: Construction at Vogtle Nuclear Plant. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Despite the national trend towards more renewable and alternative energy sources, the State of Georgia has begun work to expand its nuclear power. As pictured in Fig.1, the Southern Co. is building two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, a project that is expected to increase Georgia's nuclear energy production by 50 percent. [1] The project calls for the construction of two Westinghouse Advanced Passive nuclear units (units 3 & 4) that will power approximately 1,117 megawatts each. [2] Unit 3 is scheduled to be operational in 2019, with unit 4 fully functional in 2020. [2]

Political Implications

The political implications of nuclear expansion in the state are noteworthy. Because state governments have jurisdiction on the public services (i.e. the retail sale of electricity) within the borders of the state, Georgia has discretion over state policy with respect to nuclear power usage. Given a consistently dominating presence of republicans in the General Assembly and on the Public Utility Commission, nuclear power expansion is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. Coupled with a firm focus on job creation, incumbency advantage is definitely in the favor of state politicians that are proponents of the nuclear power expansion in the state. Most importantly, the state has received federal funding assistance from the Obama administration on this project. [3]

© Bryant Johnson. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] T. Echols, "Why Georgia Marches on Towards More Nuclear," Power Engineering, 26 Oct 15.

[2] "Nuclear Power Reactors in the World," International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA-RDS-2/35, May 2015.

[3] R. Pavey, "Federal Loan Cost Estimates for Plant Vogtle Expansion Still Secret," Augusta Chronicle, 12 Apr 12.