The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved by a 4-to-1 vote Southern Company’s bid to build two nuclear reactors along the Georgia-South Carolina border. These are the first new reactors to be approved by the NRC in more than 30 years. The reactors will cost a Southern Co. led investment group around $14 billion, and will begin producing power as soon as 2016 or 2017.

“Today’s licensing action sounds a clarion call to the world that the United States recognizes the importance of expanding nuclear energy as a key component of a low-carbon energy future that is central to job creation, diversity of electricity supply and energy security,” said Marvin S. Fertel, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a nuclear industry association. [FOX Business]

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko provided the lone dissenting vote, saying “I cannot support issuing this license as if Fukushima never happened. I believe it requires some type of binding commitment that the Fukushima enhancements that are currently projected and currently planned to be made would be made before the operation of the facility.” [Reuters]

A group of nine advocacy groups said that they would sue to block the license, stating that the NRC did not adequately analyze the reactor design’s safety in light of last year’s disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi facility. [New York Times]

What do you think of this announcement? What’s the proper role of nuclear power in America’s energy future? What’s the cost-benefit mix of nuclear power?

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