The debate over the fate of the Plant Vogtle nuclear power project has morphed into a dividing line in political races up and down the ballot, as candidates for higher office wrestle over whether to support a project that has fallen years behind schedule and exceeded its budget by billions of dollars.
None of the seven leading candidates for governor voted for the 2009 measure to allow Georgia Power to charge ratepayers early for billions of dollars in financing costs to fund the construction of a third and fourth reactor, which faces a key Thursday vote by the Public Service Commission on whether to continue. But each must now tackle a prickly decision that could help shape next year’s election:
- Abandon a project that’s widely supported by the state’s political establishment and backed by Georgia Power, one of the most powerful forces in the state, as a crucial economic development necessity.
- Or rally behind a troubled project that has already cost consumers nearly $2.4 billion and will continue to charge the average residential customer at least $100 a year until it is finished — in 2022 at the earliest.