Despite its popularity with many politicians backed by the utilities lobby, evidence continues to roll in that nuclear fission is just not an affordable or reliable option for displacing fossil fuels. It loses out when compared with clean, renewable energy sources that beat both fossil fuels and nuclear power in cost and reliability.
The contemporary American poster child for the lousy economics of nuclear power has to be the Vogtle plant in Georgia, the only new commercial nuclear power units currently under construction in the United States. Just last week, the Southern Company announced that the startup of its new nuclear units at Vogtle would be delayed once again, with an additional $200 million in cost overruns. The total cost for the two new reactor units is now up to $30 billion. The project is already years behind schedule and billions over budget, including massive federal subsidies and other public guarantees.
Meanwhile up in Virginia, its State Senate has shot down Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s latest push to study and build so-called “small modular” nuclear reactors in his state.
Commentators in southwest Virginia, the region targeted for Youngkin’s experimental and publicly subsidized proposal, are also blasting it as neither affordable, reliable, nor environmentally friendly. They say instead that it’s another example of imposing an environmentally undesirable proposal—nuclear plants—on a poor region.