The debate over the fate of the beleaguered 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.
Here's where each of the seven leading candidates for governor stands on the debate ahead of a pivotal Thursday vote by the Public Service Commission that's set to decide whether construction on the project will continue.
Former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D)
"Given the level of investment Georgians have already made in Plant Vogtle, I urge the Public Service Commission to seek a solution that protects taxpayers and ratepayers without leaving behind Georgia workers."
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R)
“I support moving forward because ratepayers deserve a return on the money we’ve invested already. It’s a clean, renewable and reliable source of energy for generations of Georgians to come. The project can’t be an open checkbook and our patience is not endless, though. We need to insist on real accountability and progress now.”
Former state Rep. Stacey Evans (D)
“The General Assembly clearly made a mistake in giving the companies charged with building Plant Vogtle a blank check into customers' wallets with the 2009 law. It’s over-budget and horribly delayed, and yet it’s the ratepayers - regular Georgians - who are still footing the bill. That needs to change. We are now in a difficult situation, with billions sunk into the project and no real idea of how much more money is needed to finish it.
Part of the problem is the only groups of people who are telling us what is going on are the companies in question and the PSC, both of whom got us into this mess. I call on the Governor and General Assembly to create a truly independent commission to get a real answer so we can make the best decision, and to put an end to regular people paying the bill for this project's mismanagement."
Former state Sen. Hunter Hill (R)
“I believe nuclear energy must continue to play an important role in Georgia’s future; however, the Plant Vogtle project has been challenged from the start by delays and significant cost overruns - which are not the responsibility of Georgia ratepayers. I would support the continuation of the project if the Public Service Commission determines that all stakeholders have a clear and actionable plan to reach completion, while not saddling Georgia customers with additional financial burdens stemming from the project.”
Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R)
"We must finish construction on the two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle for the longterm benefit of our state. I trust that the Public Service Commission will put ratepayers first as they debate the future of this crucial project next week."
Businessman Clay Tippins (R)
"Georgia Power has a cozy relationship with everyone under the Gold Dome. As a result, my opponents have a long record to defend on this issue. I will take the time to ask hard questions and apply my proven management experience to protect the Georgia citizens who pay these bills, while insuring Georgia has the energy required to build the first 21st century state."
State Sen. Michael Williams (R)
"Plant Cronyism has been mismanaged and filled with crony capitalism from the start. GA Power was allowed to pre-bill customers for its construction and now they are again passing on cost "overruns" to its customers.
Georgia PSC analysts stated that GA Power is over-billing by $3.9 billion. The mismanagement and cost overruns should come from GA Power's massive $5.2 billion profit, not the people of Georgia. We are rewarding failure."