by Mary Landers
SAVANNAH 4/8/2017: The costs for Georgia Power’s troubled Plant Vogtle are adding up, but not for the utility or its investors.
Instead, ratepayers are already paying for the two new nuclear reactors, both of which may never produce a watt of electricity. How much have customers already dished out? For southside Savannah customer Cornelia Stumpf, the Vogtle bills already total more than $500.
by Ryan Alexander
4/6/2017: Last week, Westinghouse Electric Co. announced that it will be filing for bankruptcy. Westinghouse, a subdivision of Toshiba Corporation, is in the process of building two AP1000 nuclear reactors for a power plant known as Plant Vogtle in Georgia. In fact, Westinghouse is bankruptlargely because of Vogtle. The project is a mess, and thanks to the $8.3 billion worth of loan-guarantees federal taxpayers have put into the project, courtesy of the Department of Energy, we are the ones who are going to take the hit if the whole things goes belly up.
In 2008, when the project originally applied for a federally backed loan guarantee, it was estimated that the two reactors under construction would begin commercial operation in April 2016 and 2017, respectively, and cost $14.3 billion. Instead of being completed this month, the project is less than halfway done, more than 39 months behind schedule, and at least $3.3 billion over budget. Now this.
by Gloria Tatum
(APN) ATLANTA 4/5/17— Westinghouse Electric Corporation, the designer and builder of the AP1000 nuclear reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina, has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy, putting the future of the nuclear power industry in jeopardy.
Clean energy advocates hope this bankruptcy will be a wooden stake in the heart of the so-called “nuclear renaissance” that finally kills it, including the incomplete new reactor units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle.
by Russell Grantham
ATLANTA 3/30/17: A day after its key contractor filed bankruptcy, Georgia Power said Thursday it is looking at all options for what to do with its unfinished Plant Vogtle nuclear project.
“Every option is on the table,” Georgia Power attorney Kevin Green told members of the Georgia Public Service Commission, which regulates the Atlanta-based utility.
Westinghouse Electric, which is supplying the reactors and overseeing construction of two new reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta, filed for Chapter 11 Wednesday, largely as a result of billions in losses on the Vogtle project and another in South Carolina.
by Matt Kempner
ATLANTA 3/29/17: Sometimes, even rah-rah cheerleading isn’t enough to make a bad situation look good.
That’s a shame for Georgia Power, because the CEO of its parent has tried to make the company’s nuclear misadventure look like a puffy cloud on a pretty spring day.
Four years ago, when the project to expand nuclear power at Plant Vogtle was already more than a year and a half behind schedule, Southern Co. chief executive Tom Fanning declared that work was moving along in “spectacular fashion.” The company said no further delays were expected on the complex .
Last year, with delays and costs having grown dramatically, Fanning said work on the two new nuclear units was going “beautifully.”
by Russell Grantham
ATLANTA 6/8/16 — Georgia Power officials were grilled by state utility regulators at a hearing Wednesday on why they think customers should pay for a preliminary study for a possible new nuclear plant near Columbus.
The Atlanta-based utility has asked the Public Service Commission to approve $175 million for the study of a Stewart County site as part of its updated 20-year power generation plan.
Those costs, which could ultimately grow to $300 million because of the way they are stretched out, would eventually be paid by Georgia Power’s customers, whether or not the company decided to build the new nuclear plant.
by Matt Kempner
ATLANTA 6/7/16 — Some really great deals are only great if someone else pays for them.
The state’s largest power company has just such a deal for us.
Georgia Power insists it’s really important and prudent to spend nearly $175 million so the company can investigate building a nuclear plant on land it owns south of Columbus in Stewart County. Executives testified that the investment is “in the best interest of its customers.”
But that certainty magically evaporates if Georgia Power has to pay for the exploration itself.
The company – a government-regulated monopoly — said last week that it would pull the plug on its review if state regulators don’t allow it to charge Georgia Power customersfor the entire cost of the exploration. Customers should pay even if a plant is never built on the site, according to the company. Those costs would be incorporated in monthly power bills eventually.
by Russell Grantham
ATLANTA 6/3/16 —At least one of Georgia’s utility regulators says he doesn’t think Georgia Power’s customers should have to foot a $175 million bill up front to study a potential site for a new nuclear plant near Columbus.
Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald told fellow members of the Public Service Commission Thursday that he plans to introduce a motion in the future that would deny the company’s request for the study funding.
McDonald said his motion wouldn’t prevent Georgia Power from going ahead with the study, but it’s “premature” to ask customers to pay for it before 2019.
by Matt Kempner
ATLANTA 4/13/16 — What do you call overruns on a project that’s more than three years delayed and at least $1.7 billion over budget?
Reasonable and prudent. At least if you are Georgia Power and you want customers to swallow every penny of the mistakes that would otherwise be the utility monopoly’s responsibility for its adventures in nuclear expansion.
“Every dollar, and every day, that has been invested has been necessary to complete these new units safely and correctly,” Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers asserted in a recent filing to state regulators.
The company uses the words “prudent” and “reasonable” a lot in the filing because that’s the legal measure of whether the extra costs can be pushed onto customers’ monthly power bills for the company’s troubled Plant Vogtle expansion.
by David Pendered
ATLANTA 3/21/16 — As Georgia Power proposes to expand its use of renewable energy resources, one part of the conversation that gets scant attention is the considerable amount of energy already being generated from renewable resources.
All told, Georgia Power expects to have nearly 1,000 megawatts of solar resources online or under contract by the end of this year, company spokesman John Kraft said Monday.
Six percent of Georgia’s electricity generation comes from renewable resources, including hydroelectric power, according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Residential rates are 17.3 percent lower than the U.S. average, according to the EIA.