AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- Plant Vogtle’s Unit 3 fuel loading is finished and start up testing will begin soon. The unit is expected to be operational by next spring, but what does this mean for the future of energy in Georgia?

The primary energy sources in the United States are fossil fuels, coal, and natural gas. All of these are nonrenewable, meaning once they are gone, they’re gone.

Nuclear energy is also nonrenewable, but the difference is, that it’s recyclable and will last longer.

Vogtle Units 3 and 4 will produce recyclable, carbon free nuclear power. Officials say clean energy like this is the future of energy all over the country.

“We’re going to be down just to a couple of coal units in the state of Georgia,” said Tim Echols, Georgia’s Public Service Commissioner.

Echols explained that once Units 3 and 4 are operational they will likely produce stable, carbon free nuclear energy for the next 100 years

“Vogtle will power almost a half a million homes, just the two new units. So that’s very important to have all of that power.”

Echols said that Georgia has also been collecting solar power since 2013. That power is being stored in fields of grid tie batteries, enough to provide half of all needed power during the daytime.

“Nuclear energy as your base load, plus solar, with these batteries, that really shows you what the clean energy future is going to be,” said Echols.

The cost of clean energy in Georgia is going to be pretty high, at least at first. Georgia Power customers can expect at least a 12% rate increase over the next three years due to unit 3.
5% of that has already been applied. That, along with some other elements, means energy customers can expect high bills.

“You’ve got all the inflation. You’ve got natural gas that’s triple what it was and half of our plants run on natural gas. You’ve got our- every three years we do a rate increase- we adjust those rates. You’ve got that. And then you’ve got plant Vogtle coming in in the spring,” Echols said.

He advised that now is the time for consumers to take steps to save energy. He said that one money saving idea is to sign up for a prepay plan.

“Because when you get a text message on your phone telling you what your balance is, your daily balance, we find that people begin to turn lights off. They begin to adjust that air conditioning. They make some adjustments in their home and they wind up saving 11%.”

Echols believes the new units at Plant Vogtle could be the beginning of a nuclear power renaissance in the United States.

Vogtle Unit 3 is expected to be up and running by April 2023.