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Covington will have share in Vogtle power

COVINGTON - The city of Covington will have a share of power generated from two new nuclear reactors set to go online at Plant Vogtle.

The city is participating in the project through an agreement with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, a provider of wholesale electricity to communities throughout the state.

The city had requested a total of 35 megawatts (MW), to use 20 MW when operations begin and 15 MW after 20 years.

But with demand exceeding supply, the city was allocated a total of 26.264 MW, with 20 MW for immediate use when operations begin, and the remainder to be used after 20 years.

The additional reactors are expected to go online in 2017.

"This is a significant decision made by the mayor and council based on guidance from MEAG officials, in-house expertise and two independent power consulting firms. While this purchase is pending final regulatory review, we are pleased to have secured the most environmentally-friendly power for our citizens for the next four decades," Mayor Kim Carter said.

In addition to meeting residents' future power demands, the city's participation "helps stabilize the cost of power in the future," Utilities Director Bill Meecham said.

"Electricity is like a commodity or like stock; it goes all over the place," he said, adding that, "When you own the facility, you're not at the mercy of the market."

MEAG will have 22.7 percent ownership interest in the nuclear units at a cost of approximately $3.1 billion.

The city of Covington's investment amounts to $102.4 million in "today's dollars" and $162.8 million in "2017 dollars," according to Carter.

MEAG will take out bonds to pay for the project, with the city to pay for its share of the power as it is used, Meecham said.

Forty other communities, including the city of Mansfield, have also signed on to participate. Mansfield will purchase .309 MW.

"Our next goal is to secure more base load power for use immediately," Carter said. "Presently, we do not have enough during the summer months and we are seeking potential sellers to supplement our needs."

MEAG is a public generation and transmission organization providing power to 49 Georgia communities with annual electric sales of $736 million and 10.8 million megawatt-hours of delivered energy in 2007.

Plant Vogtle is located near Waynesboro in eastern Georgia near the South Carolina border and is jointly owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power Corporation, MEAG and the city of Dalton.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.