Author Archives: Glenn

Georgia Power vs. the law of holes

Plant-Vogtle-construction-2014by Lyle Harris
Georgia Power is likely to get another shot-in-the-arm after announcing plans to complete construction on those ill-fated nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro.

A more appropriate response to this epic boondoggle, of course, would be a swift kick in the pants. But don’t count on it.

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has scheduled hearings on November 6 to discuss the troubled project, Along with the Southern Company (Georgia Power’s corporate parent) and the smaller utilities that are partners on the Plant Vogtle expansion, there’s little reason to worry about some silly old hearings. While the PSC is ostensibly charged with balancing the interests of the utility with those of its customers, the scales are reliably tipped in Georgia Power’s favor.

The planned reactors at Plant Vogtle were supposed to be up and running by now but they’re only about one-third complete. A series of major snafus and setbacks (including the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric which designed and was building the reactors) has increased chances that Georgia households will be picking up more of the tab.

Read the whole article: Saporta Report

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Conservative group taking Georgia Power to task on Vogtle costs overrun

4364312_web1_0901NuclearLeadby Tom Corwin
10/11/17 AUGUSTA: A conservative Georgia group is calling out Georgia Power on the cost overruns on two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle and wants to repeal a state law that allows the company to pass along those costs to ratepayers while construction is underway.

The call puts the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots on the side of some more liberal groups opposing the project but President Debbie Dooley said some issues appeal to all sides. The group is also vowing to make it an issue in next year’s Public Service Commission elections.

The Atlanta Tea Party opposed Senate Bill 31 in 2009 that allowed Georgia Power to recoup the nuclear expansion costs at Vogtle and has supported efforts since to repeal it. But with the failure of a somewhat similar project in South Carolina at the V.C. Summer nuclear site, and the ensuing fallout over its ongoing burden on those ratepayers, Dooley said she believes there is renewed momentum to make the change in Georgia.

“I think there is a bigger demand for it this time because it is in the news,” she said. In the past, “I think people wanted to give Georgia Power the benefit of the doubt. But there’s no benefit of the doubt now.”

Read the whole article: Augusta Chronicle

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Georgia nuke backers scramble for reasons to keep going

newsEngin.19674583_Southern-AGL.JPEG-0b4bdby Matt Kempner
There’s a mad scramble underway to come up with new reasons for why Georgians should continue to pay billions of dollars to expand nuclear power in the state. National security! Push back against Russia and China! Healthcare!

Seriously? Yeah, if you believe elected officials, who in the next few days are supposed to get new cost estimates and recommendations from the state’s biggest electric provider.

It seemed like only yesterday when Georgia Power convinced politicians on the Georgia Public Service Commission that a primary reason for expanding Plant Vogtle was because it was the cheapest way to cool our homes, charge our iPhones and keep industry chugging.

Proponents can no longer say that without twitching.

Four years ago, the PSC’s outside financial monitor warned that because of cheap natural gas and, to some extent, rising Vogtle costs, “if a decision had to be made today to build a new nuclear project, it would not be justified on the basis of these results.”

Read the whole article: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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‘Idle’ workers cited at delayed Vogtle nuclear power project

Unknownby Matt Kempner
6/16/17: Add “idle” workers to the list of troubles at Georgia Power’s struggling nuclear expansion at Plant Vogtle.

Construction workers are supposed to be toiling away on the project that’s already three years behind schedule and falling farther behind.

But a state monitor recently testified that “idle time, early quits and late starts remained high” among construction workers on the first new-from-scratch U.S. nuclear energy project in 30 years.

“Low productivity has been a continuing issue,” according to written testimony by the construction monitor, William Jacobs, and Steven Roetger, a Georgia Public Service Commission staffer assigned to oversight of the project. They cited reviews by a consultant for the project’s contractor.

Attempts to improve the pace of work had little effect on productivity in the last year, they added. In fact, crucial parts of the construction have faced growing delays.

Read the whole article: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Vogtle completion ‘uneconomic,’ Ga. PSC consultants say

moneyreactors-300x300by  Colby Bermel
6/13/17: Consultants to the Georgia Public Service Commission said June 8 that Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC’s bankruptcy has “invalidated” Georgia Power Co.’s cost calculations at its Alvin W. Vogtle Nuclear Plant and it would be “uneconomic” to complete the plant’s expansion.

The consultants also said that if Georgia Power were to continue construction, the Southern Co. subsidiary will spend $3 billion more on Vogtle than what it predicted in a recent report and the plant’s new units will go online three years later than the company anticipates.

Philip Hayet and Lane Kollen, both vice presidents and principals at J. Kennedy and Associates in Roswell, Ga., submitted written testimony to the commission on behalf of its Public Interest Advocacy Staff. The state agency is conducting a review of Georgia Power’s $222 million in Vogtle construction costs during the second half of 2016 for the Vogtle Construction Monitoring Report, or VCM.

Read the whole article: S&P Global Market Intelligence

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Millions collected from schools, taxpayers for Vogtle construction

2812409_web1_Plant-Vogtleby Thomas Gardiner

6/11/17: Since 2009, Georgia Power customers have been paying up front for construction costs at the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion.

Some public entities will have paid more than $1 million for construction before a single kilowatt hour of energy is generated by the expansion.

Georgia Power extended its interim agreement with Westinghouse by 24 hours recently to give the two companies time to finalize a transition agreement as the utility company takes over in the wake of the Westinghouse bankruptcy. That bankruptcy was fueled by cost overruns at the Plant Vogtle and VC Summer nuclear expansion projects.

According to legislation passed in 2009, Georgia Power shall collect costs related to nuclear construction financing and interest to support the plant’s construction, even though the project failed to meet its operational deadline in 2016.

Read the whole article: Savannah Morning News

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PSC Commissioner Moves for Georgia Power to Stop Collecting Nuclear Tax

bubba-2by Gloria Tatum
6/11/17 (APN) ATLANTA — Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald (District 4) filed a motion to give Georgia Power ratepayers a break by asking the company to suspend collecting the nuclear construction tax, or CWIP.

But it had as much chance as a snowball in hell of being honored by the PSC or Georgia Power.  The Commission voted to hold the motion and refer it to the Georgia Attorney General for an opinion, in a four to one vote on June 06, 2017.

“I move that the Commission request that the Company voluntarily agree that as of July 1, 2017, it will stop collecting any financing charges under the Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery (NCCR) tariff,” McDonald’s motion read.

“Effective July 1, 2017, the Company will utilize Allowance for Funds Used During Construction (AFUDC) accounting treatment on the Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) balance of all Unit 3 and 4 capital costs,” the motion stated.

Read the whole article: Atlanta Progressive News

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Southern’s path to ‘first’ new reactor filled with pitfalls

image_asset_18775by Kristi Swartz
6/8/17: Southern Co.’s nuclear expansion project in Georgia was behind schedule even before it got started.

Contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission grappled with design changes for the new AP1000 technology, delaying the agency’s issuance of the major construction license by four months in 2012.

They’ve never been able to catch up.

The delay was small at the time because Southern’s Georgia Power unit and the contractors said they could make up the time in some way. What’s more, the schedule slip meant little compared with the broader story: Georgia Power was restarting the nuclear industry after 30 years with Plant Vogtle.

The twin reactors would start producing electricity in 2016 and 2017.

Read the whole article: E&E News

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GEORGIA: Sinking into the Vogtle Vortex

The expansion of a Georgia nuclear power plant that fired up dreams for a carbon-free nuclear renaissance in the U.S. has turned into a quagmire of setbacks, financial woes, uncertainty and frustration.
Protest_smby Pam Wright
5/23/17: Cornelia Stumpf has had enough.

The Savannah resident joins more than 2 million other Georgia Power customers who collectively pay a reported $23 million a month for the construction of two new and highly controversial nuclear reactors that may never produce a single kilowatt of energy.

The new reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, 30 minutes south of Augusta, were the first approved in the U.S. in 30 years, and they were expected to revive the nation’s nuclear power industry, ushering in an era of carbon-free energy to help control climate change. But the expansion at Plant Vogtle has become an expensive boondoggle for the company and its customers.

“What is upsetting to me is, in the end, I’m just one person and it’s added up to $700 in the six years since they began charging it,” says Stumpf, a conscientious consumer of energy who is speaking from her office on a 90-degree afternoon in May with the air conditioner off.

Georgia Power, a subsidiary of the Southern Company, implemented the 7 percent surcharge in 2011 after lawmakers gave the utility permission to charge customers for the construction of the project. The charge appears on consumer’s bill as “Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery.” So far Georgia Power has reportedly collected nearly $2 billion from the surcharge.

Read the whole article: The Weather Channel

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Georgia Power profits off Plant Vogtle construction despite cost overruns, delays, and contractor bankruptcy

Vogtle_construction17by Anne Maxwell
WAYNESBORO, Ga. 5/8/17: The construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle is years behind schedule and billions over budget. Last month, the contractor, Westinghouse Electric, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Plant Vogtle employees hundreds of people in Burke County and the temporary contract with Westinghouse expires Friday, which means the project’s future after that is up in the air.

An attorney for Georgia Power, which is one of the main owners of Plant Vogtle, has said all options are on the table. They could totally shut down the project, or build only one of the two reactors they are currently constructing. There has also been talk of converting it to a natural gas plant, but it is not clear whether that would be economical. Or they could continue building despite even higher costs.

But no matter what happens, Georgia Power is still going to make a profit.

Read the whole story and see video: ABC News Channel 6 wjbf.com

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