On December 22 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it has certified Westinghouse Electric Company’s AP1000 reactor design. This is an improved reactor from every perspective including safety. It is the first time since the 1990s that NRC has approved a nuclear power plant design. This design will be used on two new power plants being built in the State of Georgia by Georgia Power, a Southern Company subsidiary. NRC’s approval of this design will streamline the NRC licensing process and provide companies constructing nuclear power plants greater certainty. In addition, this will make it easier for Westinghouse, to market it reactor designs in a global economy. This in turn will create thousands of new jobs as our nuclear power plan industry will be renewed and the demand for supplies and parts will grow. It is estimated that 80 per cent of the components for the new Georgia plant will be made in the United States.
The Southern Company has made a significant investment in nuclear. They have already spent over $2 billion to get their project to this point and as the project moves forward it will mean thousands of new construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs when the plant is completed.
It is anticipated that the NRC will soon approve the first combined Construction and Operating License (COL) permit for a nuclear power plant in the United States. This will further streamline the licensing process and save millions of dollars and significantly reduce the construction to operation time frame. According to the NRC the last time a construction permit was issued to build a nuclear power plant was in 1978, 33 years ago. The last time the NRC issued an operating license was in 1996, 15 years ago. We are long overdue for a renaissance of nuclear power. As manufactures use over a third of the energy produced in this country it heartening to see new sources of energy come on line that will help make our manufactures more competitive.