State regulators in the USA have approved a proposal by Georgia Power to spend up to $99m on site investigation and licensing costs for a NPP at a new site at Stewart County in south-west Georgia. This approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) will enable the company to recover up to $99m in costs for early-stage work completed by the middle of 2019 to its ratepayers. The work will include site suitability studies and developing a combined operating licence (COL) application for the plant. Georgia Power will be required to file a status report on the project in its 2019 integrated resources plan (IRP).
Earlier this year, Georgia Power announced that preliminary work including geological and water studies had begun on a 7000 acre (2800 hectare) site next to the Chattahoochee River, south of Columbus, Georgia. The company said it had begun evaluating the Stewart County site to help to keep its future options open, having learned from experience with its Vogtle construction project that the process to obtain a COL alone can take up to seven years. CEO Paul Bowers said at the time a new plant would not be built until "sometime after 2030" at the earliest.
Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power operates two units at the Vogtle NPP in eastern Georgia and two at Hatch in the south-east of the state. Two new AP1000 reactors under construction at Vogtle, units 3 and 4, are expected to begin operations in 2019 and 2020.