Category Archives: CWIP News

Georgia General Assembly Votes to Sunset CWIP

stopCWIP_gov3/27/18 ATLANTA — Representatives of the Stop CWIP Coalition delivered a petition containing more than 3,000 signatures to Governor Nathan Deal’s office in support of the recent passage of Senate Bill 355 to sunset the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act of 2009 with the Vogtle 3 & 4 project. The bill is awaiting the governor’s signatures to become law.

In 2013 several groups launched the Stop CWIP Campaign with a petition drive to repeal the 2009 law. The groups forming the Stop CWIP Coalition are: ARRP (Aging Raging Rate Payers), Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace, Center for a Sustainable Coast, Georgia WAND (Women’s Action for New Directions) and Nuclear Watch South.

The groups delivered the petition entitled “Stop the Nuclear CWIP Tax” in support of Governor Deal’s anticipated signature to ratify Senate Bill 355 which sunsets the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act of 2009. The controversial law legalized collection of advance payments for Vogtle 3 & 4 which are under construction in Burke County. The nuclear tariff has been charged on residential and small business electric bills since 2011. The additional Vogtle reactors are currently less than half-built and are at least $5 billion over budget and five years behind schedule. Senate Bill 355 easily passed both the Senate and the House and now awaits Governor Deal’s signature.

Read the whole article: Nuclear Watch South

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Watered down Plant Vogtle bill passes General Assembly

Unknownby 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

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Georgia Watch challenges Plant Vogtle decision

Unknown-1by 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

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The $29 billion boondoggle that’s poisoning Black communities

Vogtle-minby 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

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Effort to end financing law gains steam in Ga.

by Kristi SwartzUnknown-2
ATLANTA 2/27/18 — A bill that would end the controversial financing law that’s being used to expand Plant Vogtle passed the Georgia Senate yesterday.

The measure would apply only to future nuclear reactors and would not affect Georgia Power Co.’s Plant Vogtle expansion project. Still, while the proposal (S.B. 355) does no immediate financial harm to Georgia Power, a unit of energy giant Southern Co., it carries major political significance.

Georgia Power is a political heavyweight at the state Capitol. The utility had roughly six dozen lobbyists help move the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act through the Legislature in 2009, allowing the electric company to bill customers for Vogtle’s reactors as they were being built.

At the time, Georgia Power and nuclear supporters argued that doing so would pay down interest costs and save customers money over time. It would also send a signal to Wall Street that the Peach State stood behind Georgia Power building the nation’s first nuclear project from scratch in nearly 30 years.

Vogtle is now the lone nuclear project under construction in the U.S. It is years behind schedule and billions above its forecast budget. The financing costs have now roughly doubled, causing many to question whether the Legislature needed to review the 2009 law.

“If you had asked me at the beginning of the session if any legislation would move in this area, I’d say, ‘Absolutely not,’” said state Sen. Josh McKoon, a Republican from Columbus. “It’s one thing to stir up a hornet’s nest. It’s another to constructively engage Georgia Power, the other players, to come up with something that moves public policy in a direction that [the bill's sponsor] and I think it should be moving in.”

Read the whole article: E&E News

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Utility lending bill runs into opposition

5a594b8544f69.imageby Jill Nolan
DALTON 2/23/18: A proposal to let local governments borrow money for electric utility projects without a public vote has run into resistance at the state Capitol.

The statewide bill is essentially tailored for Dalton Utilities, which owns 1.6 percent of the costly Plant Vogtle expansion project. The utility wants state lawmakers to eliminate a public referendum that is currently required before they can issue bonds for electric system-related projects.

Dalton Utilities’ chief executive officer, Tom Bundros, told lawmakers Friday that the utility does not need to borrow money to cover its share of the cost to finish two new nuclear reactors at Vogtle near Waynesboro. That project is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

Bundros said the utility’s share, which is expected to run another $80 million, would come from “internally generated cash flow.” He also said the utility does not anticipate the need to borrow money for the next five years.

“Well, if you don’t want to borrow any more money, why do you need this?” said Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville.

Read the whole article: Daily Citizen-News

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Ga. panel votes to scrap project financing law with Vogtle carve-out

Unknown-1by Kristi Swartz
ATLANTA 2/16/18 — A Georgia Senate panel swiftly passed a bill that ends a controversial financing law for nuclear power plants but leaves Georgia Power Co.’s Plant Vogtle expansion project alone.

The measure is a pared-down version of a bill (S.B. 355) that would limit how much Georgia Power could profit from Vogtle, whose reactors are years behind schedule and billions of dollars above their original forecast budget. Georgia Power — known for its political muscle at the Capitol — did not oppose the new version passed yesterday.

Consumer advocates also did not testify but said after the meeting they hoped this measure would open the door for future inquiries by the Legislature.

“We remain hopeful that the Legislature will continue to look at the issues, and as they dig deeper, they will realize that we need to do something more,” Liz Coyle, executive director of Georgia Watch, said in an interview after yesterday’s Georgia Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee hearing. “At least we can say that something has gotten done where the Legislature is acknowledging that we can’t just keep this going unchecked.”

Read the whole article: E&E News

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Bill limiting Georgia Power profits would not apply to Vogtle delays

Unknown-3by Anastaciah Ondieki
ATLANTA 2/16/18: A newly proposed Senate Bill that would have limited charges on Georgia Power customer bills for the Vogtle nuclear expansion project has been amended, to apply only to future nuclear projects.

The amended version of Senate Bill 355, which received unanimous support from members of the Regulated Industries and Utilities committee Thursday, will target projects commissioned after January 1, 2018.

The bill, introduced by Rome Republican lawmaker Chuck Hufstetler also requires Georgia Power and other utility companies to seek prior authorization from Congress before pursuing new nuclear projects.

Hufstetler said Vogtle was not included in the bill as there would be no support to see it through the legislature.

He however said his decision to seek consumer protections for ratepayers stems from recent efforts by Georgia Power to seek a location for a new nuclear site in Stewart County.

The bill is now headed to the Senate Rules Committee.

“At least we can say something has gotten done with the legislators acknowledging we can’t let this keep going unchecked,” said Liz Coyle, the Executive Director of Georgia Watch.

Read the whole article: Atlanta Journal & Constitution

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As Georgia regulators ponder Vogtle’s future, more revelations emerge about its doomed twin in South Carolina

Westinghouse-AP-1000by Tom Baxter
11/13/17 ATLANTA: From a design point of view, the nuclear projects at Plant Vogtle and the V.C. Summer site in South Carolina were identical. They were to be the first in a new generation of U.S. nuclear reactors, the Westinghouse AP1000s, cheaper, easier to build and safer than their predecessors.

After years of costly delays, the fate of the two projects diverged last summer, when the South Carolina utilities funding the Summer project pulled the plug on it, just days after the Georgia Public Service gave the go-ahead for continuing construction at Vogtle, despite the bankruptcy of Westinghouse.

The impact of the Westinghouse debacle has been felt more sharply in South Carolina, where a substantially smaller population of ratepayers is shouldering the enormous costs. One result of this has been a very productive competition between Columbia’s The State and Charleston’s The Post and Courier, both of which have been aggressive in reporting on the regulatory failures that accompanied the engineering blunders on the road to ruin for the Summer project.

Last week, as the Georgia Public Service Commission was holding four days of hearings on the future of the Vogtle project, portable devices were buzzing with the fruits of that effort.

Read the whole article: Saporta Report

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Opinion: An answer for Ga. Power

vogtle_ajcby Jay Bookman
11/13/17 ATLANTA: More than a decade ago, our good friends at Georgia Power conceived the idea of building two new nuclear reactors — the first to be built on U.S. soil in a generation — at its Vogtle site outside Augusta.

Georgia Power recruited the partners it needed from electric co-ops and city utilities around the state. It convinced its obedient servants at the state Public Service Commission to rubber-stamp the project, which they did by a 4-1 vote. (All four “yes” men are still on the PSC  today, still collecting their six-figure salaries, their durability testament to the wisdom of not crossing Georgia Power.)

The company hired the most powerful lobbyists in the state to supplement its own standing army of lobbyists, then strong-armed a law through a compliant state Legislature that forced consumers to start paying for the nuke projects immediately, long before they produced any power. Getting the signature of then-Gov. Sonny Perdue on that bill also proved to be no problem, since the man whom Perdue had hired as his chief of staff happened to have been Georgia Power’s top lobbyist for decades.

Georgia Power chose the design. Georgia Power hired the contractors. Georgia Power assured everyone who would listen that the problems that had long dogged nuclear power — the safety concerns, the massive cost-overruns and construction delays — had been resolved, and that the units would be up and producing power by 2017 just as scheduled. Critics who noted the difficulty and risk of trying to restart a complicated, zero-defect industry from scratch were steamrollered.

The message from the company was steadfast: “Don’t worry, we got this.”

Well no, they didn’t. They were wrong, spectacularly wrong, and their critics have been proved right. Under the original schedule, both new nuclear units should have been producing power by now. Instead, they are less than half built. The cost overruns have been enormous, basically doubling in cost even if nothing further goes wrong. And what is the price to be paid for such failure?

For Georgia Power, the price is none. No price, and to hear Georgia Power tell it, no failure. In a meeting last week with reporters from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers was asked whether the company deserved any blame or responsibility for imposing this financial catastrophe on the people of Georgia.

“The answer to that question is no,” Bowers said.

No? The answer to that question is no?

Read the whole article: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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