A Georgia regulator on why finishing Vogtle is a matter of national security

Photo from Plant Vogtle construction site on Thursday, May 11, 2016. Johnny Edwards / AJC

The troubled construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle is now the only commercial nuclear project underway in the nation, and Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols has been one of the most forceful advocates of keeping it alive despite mounting financial questions.

In an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, Echols posits that nuclear-generated energy is a national security issue and that the much-delayed project will eventually be finished “with vision, perseverance and God’s help.”

A taste of Echols’ argument:

Diversifying the energy supply makes sense, because no one knows what the future holds. The U.S. could institute a carbon tax, or even regulate frackers out of a job. No matter what happens, nuclear reactors will ensure Georgia’s electric rates stay competitive.

They also will keep the U.S. from forfeiting its nuclear leadership. As other states have decommissioned reactors without replacing them, the world has begun looking to nations like China and Russia. The World Nuclear Association reports China is increasing its nuclear generation capacity 70% by 2021 and will surpass U.S. output by 2030. The only way for America to continue setting international standards for safety and security is to invest in reactors and technology.

On a related energy note, Johnny Kauffman over at WABE (90.1FM) reports how an international trade case over solar panel imports could kill the solar energy boom in rural Georgia.

Two bankrupt U.S. solar panel manufacturers, Solar World and Georgia-based Suniva, had a first hearing in Washington this week before the U.S. International Trade Commission, charging unfair overseas competition. Should the commission agree, and if President Donald Trump imposes tariffs, solar panel prices could double.

Insider’s note: This item was ripped from The Morning Jolt, which you can find here.

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