Yesterday the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced it will approve a construction and operating license for two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at The Southern Company’s Vogtle generating plant. This will be the first new U.S. nuclear project in more than three decades. It will create around 25,000 direct and indirect jobs.
A couple years ago, Ontario was on track to have the first-new-nuclear honour. The province was poised to select reactors for a Darlington B station. The choices were Areva’s EPR, Westinghouse’s AP1000, and AECL’s ACR 1000. The bid reviewers decided that AECL had submitted the only “compliant” bid. But then the bottom fell out of the process when the province and federal government could not agree on the terms of a purchase/sale of an ACR.
Darlington B has languished ever since. Meanwhile, the employment picture in Ontario has remained grim and is now getting worse, and gas-fired electric power generators in Ontario continue to dump ever-greater amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Maybe the thousands of high quality jobs that will come with building the new Vogtle reactors in Georgia will attract new interest in government circles in Canada. Canada’s overall jobs picture just turned seriously sour, while America’s suddenly improved. Vogtle will only accelerate the American recovery.
Interestingly, Westinghouse recently opened a Canadian office, thereby formally returning to a country in which it has deep roots.
Here is how The Southern Company’s Tom Fanning described the significance of the now-approved Vogtle project in an interview with the Nuclear Energy Institute: