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March 14, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
cpiercy@ans.org

Spoiler alert: America has one more nuclear reactor on line.

It’s been a long, hard slog for the Vogtle reactor expansion project, and the news coverage has been tough. I would describe it as the “standard media fare” of late—a steady flow of click-inducing “breaking news” alerts on cost overruns and schedule delays. Sure, it’s all fair game in a world with press freedom, but I had hoped for more substance along with the “horse race” reporting from our Fourth Estate.

Nuclear is hard—but it’s not just nuclear. In the United States, big groundbreaking projects of all sorts veer over budget and behind schedule frequently these days, resulting in unpleasant headlines along the way. Then, when they are up and running, these facilities tend to fall out of the public spotlight, and we all start taking them for granted. But this narrative arc hides a larger truth. When Vogtle Unit 4 joins Unit 3 in commercial operation later this year, the two units together are tipped to churn out over 17 million megawatt-hours of steady 24/7 power on an annual basis. That’s more energy per year than all the windmills in California—enough to feed one million homes and businesses. It will do this for the next 60, 80, maybe even 100 years. Talk about a buried lede!

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