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Senate debates Nuclear Energy Financing Bill
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Consumer concerns were high on the Senate’s list of priorities this week. We engaged in a spirited debate over how to finance two nuclear generators that will be built at Plant Vogtle near Augusta. 


These generators will supply Georgia with new sources of energy to support our growth and economic competitiveness.  


The Senate passed a measure that will save consumers over $300 million by recovering financing costs during the generators’ construction period.


Many times companies charge for the construction after the project is complete and interest has accumulated. Senate Bill 31 allows Georgia Power to charge for the financing costs before the interest accumulates. This bill does not dictate what rate the Public Service Commission or Georgia Power can charge customers.


The potential raise in power bills is $1.30 per month, which would not begin until 2011 if the PSC approves the project. 


A vote for this bill represents a vote for alternative energy and lessening our dependence on foreign oil.  


Georgia is among the fastest growing states in the nation. We need to add new sources of generation to supply our growing energy needs at cost effective prices. 


Economically speaking, this project will have a significantly positive impact, representing a $14 billion investment in the state and generating 3,500 high paying jobs over the next eight years.


Furthering energy conservation efforts, the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee passed a resolution I authored to award the first person or firm $250,000 for developing the first commercial oil or natural gas well in the state.


Senate Resolution 12 provides the incentive for the development of substantial and commercially viable energy production. Utilizing alternative energy options and sources other than fossil fuels will strengthen Georgia’s competitive edge globally.    


Throughout the week I worked on several initiatives to promote the natural resources in our state. In addition to energy, I introduced an effort to supply more water to Georgia, continuing my commitment to ensuring that the state overcomes this drought with an effective water management system in place. 


In a Senate-passed resolution, I urge Congress to build reservoirs upstream from Lake Lanier, including in the Chattahoochee National Forest. 


More than 5 million people depend on Lanier and the Chattahoochee River for their water supply.


The metro Atlanta area alone relies on the Chattahoochee for 75 percent of its water, the smallest river in the nation providing a main water source to a city the size of Atlanta.


By building more reservoirs, we can control water levels while also protecting downstream areas by increasing river flow in times of drought.


Many of our neighbors in the southern part of the state depend on agriculture for their livelihood.


That industry experiences devastating effects when faced with a drought, but with more reservoirs we can ensure those farms are provided with the necessary amount of water to sustain the state’s largest industry.     


This week I also had the honor of commending our state’s sustainable and environmentally friendly businesses during Sustainable Business Day at the State Capitol. 


Many Georgia companies are implementing practices to lessen their businesses’ impact on the surrounding environment. 


Sustainable businesses contribute more than 60,000 jobs and $28 billion to Georgia’s economy.


Our state is home to many companies developing innovative alternative energy options and resource-efficient building and manufacturing processes.


As chairman of the Senate Economic Development Committee, I strongly encourage the prosperity of these companies and urge others to take advantage of energy and resource-efficient business practices.  


Sen. Chip Pearson serves as chairman of the Economic Development Committee. He represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens and Union counties and portions of Forsyth and White counties.  He may be reached at (404) 656-9921 or via e-mail at