by Dave Williams
ATLANTA 3/20/18: Utilities building future nuclear power plants in Georgia will not be able to collect financing costs from ratepayers before the projects are completed without the approval of the General Assembly.
The Georgia House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill containing that provision on Wednesday. The measure already had passed the Senate overwhelmingly late last month.
The original version of the legislation introduced into the state Senate in January was aimed at Georgia Power Co.’s nuclear expansion at Plant Vogtle. It would have prohibited the Atlanta-based utility from continuing to recover financing costs associated with the long delayed, over-budget project after the original timetable for completing the work had arrived.
Since the original completion dates for two additional nuclear reactors being built at the plant south of Augusta, Ga., have passed, the measure effectively would have repealed the nuclear “tariff” Georgia Power collects on customer bills each month.
However, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, the bill’s chief sponsor agreed to remove Plant Vogtle from the legislation as a condition to getting it through the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
As a result, the final version of the bill applies only to any future nuclear plants Georgia Power or any other utility may contemplate building in Georgia. The legislation now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal.
Read the whole article: Atlanta Business Chronicle
by J. Scott Truby
ATLANTA 3/8/18: Consumer group Georgia Watch filed a legal challenge to the December decision by the Georgia Public Service Commission to allow Georgia Power and partners to complete two unfinished nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in east Georgia.
In a petition filed in Fulton County Superior Court, Georgia Watch alleges the unanimous decision by the utilities regulator benefits shareholders of Georgia Power, a subsidiary of publicly traded Southern Company, over Georgia ratepayers.
The decision was finalized in January.
The challenge is at least the second filed against the PSC by consumer groups in recent weeks. A trio of advocacy groups challenged the PSC’s decision on Georgia Power’s new cost estimates, alleging commissioners violated state laws and the commission’s own rules approving spending that would nearly double the estimated costs of the project.
Georgia Watch alleges commissioners violated the law by “[communicating] with Georgia Power behind closed doors in the days leading up to the final decision without notifying other parties or giving them an opportunity to respond to the substance of the communications.”
“The Commission’s decision puts nearly all of the higher cost burden and risks of further cost increases on the backs of Georgia consumers,” Georgia Watch Executive Director Liz Coyle said in a news release. “Incredibly, Georgia Power will actually earn billions in extra profit while their customers foot the bill for the mismanaged project.”
The law group of former Gov. Roy Barnes is representing Georgia Watch on a pro bono basis.
Read the whole article: Atlanta Journal & Constitution
by Gloria Tatum
SHELL BLUFF 3/6/18: As members of Congress clamored last month to pass a spending bill and avoid a second federal government shutdown, much of the public dialogue revolved more around the standoff between Republicans and Democrats than the contents of the bill.
But for residents of Shell Bluff, a majority-Black, rural community on Georgia’s eastern border, the outcomes are clear. And they’re dire. Among the bill’s many provisions is a measure to extend a tax credit program that was previously set to expire. The program will allocate $800 million to prop up a nuclear power boondoggle that has been plaguing Shell Bluff and the surrounding area for years.
Situated in Burke County on the Savannah River, which forms the Georgia-South Carolina border, Shell Bluff is home to the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, commonly known as Plant Vogtle. Owned largely by Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, Plant Vogtle has supplied the state with electricity generated by two nuclear reactors since the 1980s.
In 2009, Georgia’s Public Service Commission (PSC) approved plans to construct two additional reactors at the plant, and allowed Georgia Power to charge ratepayers up front for the construction cost. In so doing, the PSC ignored devastating health and environmental effects the nuclear plant had wrought. In the years following, the PSC would also turn a blind eye to massive cost overruns and construction delays, greenlighting the project to continue in spite of numerous red flags.
Read the whole article: Scalawag