Marietta, Ga. Marietta boasts one of the lowest tax rates of any town in Georgia. At 6 percent, it is lower than the national average of 6.7 percent. How are they able to do this? It is partly due to their association with Municipality Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG) Power.
Marietta, along with 48 other municipalities across Georgia, has invested in a low emission, cost effective power source-nuclear power. In fact, according to Marietta city councilman Bill Bruton “the biggest [power supply] at this point is not coal but actually nuclear.” Currently, Georgia derives 24.7 percent of its electric power from nuclear sources, making nuclear power second to coal which provides 54.5 percent of the energy for the state. With Georgia experiencing a 1.2 percent growth in gross state product over the past five years Steven M. Jackson, Vice President of Power Supply at MEAG Power stated, “We need the power.”
A city press release stated that Marietta will invest up to $405 million dollars over the next 40 years into the expansion of Plant Vogtle, located on the Georgia-South Carolina border in the town of Waynesborogh, Ga. The project, approved in March of 2008, will be the first expansion in nuclear power approved and licensed in America since 1973. In recent years, the two currently operating reactors have been operating at 90 percent capacity. This next expansion will build 2 more reactors adjacent to the two currently operating reactors. Both of the new reactors will be assembled in Japan and shipped to the United States. But as the world watches the crisis at the Fukushimi plant due to unforeseen damage from a 8.9 scale earthquake off the mainland; and countries throughout Europe close down nuclear power operations, should America rethink its nuclear policy?
The residents of Marietta seem ambivalent to the further utilization of nuclear power and unlike the protests of the 1970s, people seem to be well settled at the thought of expanding our dependence on nuclear power. “We do not receive too many complaints about it on a local level,” according to Frank C. Crane, Director of Government and Corporate Affairs for MEAG Power. Nicholas Parsons, a Marietta resident of 29 years said, “My thought is that whatever it is that they build now…..is going to be much safer, much more effective, and much more efficient than what they put in Japan in 1971.” The questions that people seem to have concerned themselves with the most are concerning the financial impact the plant will have on their fellow residents. Dewann Sturgis, a Marietta resident of 10 years wanted to know, “How many jobs will it produce?” These exact figures are unclear but will not likely provide noticeable employment in the Marietta community. What is certain is that Marietta citizens want the best financial deal possible.
MEAG is in complete agreement. “We do what do for the economic benefit of our clients,” stated Crane. Residents like Parsons are worried that they will end up footing the bill for Plant Vogle’s expansion, although according to Georgia Power Company he already has. As of Jan. 1, 2011 GPC raised its base rates 10 percent and added a $1.44 “nuclear rider” to pay for the Plant Vogtle Expansion.
Targeted in 2016 and 2017, industry leaders are looking forward to the new influx of emission-free, affordable power that Plant Vogtle’s reactor 3 & 4 will provide.