Tag Archives: Georgia Power

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nuclear reactors being built at the plant south of Augusta, Ga., have passed, the measure effectively would have repealed the nuclear “tariff” Georgia Power collects on customer bills each month.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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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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Lawsuit, Investigation Request Keep PSC, Georgia Power on their Toes

Unknown-2by Gloria Tatum
(APN) ATLANTA 2/15/18 — The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) is facing a new lawsuit, while Georgia Power is facing a possible investigation – both in connection with challenges to the continued construction of new nuclear reactors 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle.

Three groups–the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), Partnership for Southern Equity, and Georgia Interfaith Power and Light–have filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court on Monday, February 12, 2018 against the PSC.

The Petitioners claim the PSC’s December 21, 2017 decision and holiday gift to Georgia Power to continue Vogtle 3 and 4 violated Georgia law and the PSC’s own governing rules, making their decision illegal.

The PSC’s decision ensures Georgia Power Company billions of dollars in additional profits, while saddling ratepayers with billions in additional expenses.

The Commission’s decision put the interest of Georgia Power’s shareholders ahead of the interest of ratepayers, especially low-income customers.

Finally, there is a lawsuit that asserts the obvious – that the so-called “Public Service” Commission is and has been working as an agent of Georgia Power for years instead of protecting the ratepayers.

As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, the PSC vote overruled its own staff’s recommendations, which stated that to go forward would hurt ratepayers financially and reward Georgia Power’s bad management with additional profits.

Read the whole article: Atlanta Progressive News

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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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CEO of Georgia powerhouse skips the whole apology thing

bowersby Matt Kempner
11/8/17 ATLANTA: If you made a giant mess that your neighbors were going to end up paying for, would you take a moment to apologize to them? Perhaps at least mumble something about “regret”?

Georgia Power’s CEO did not utter such words the other day. Not even close.

CEO Paul Bowers made a rare personal appearance at a hearing before the Georgia Public Service Commission this week. He was there to explain why state regulators should continue the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project and force the company’s customers — his neighbors — to take on way more risk and billions in additional costs because the project has careened off the rails.

“We understand that this is a complex and difficult decision,” Bowers told the elected body.
The project was supposed to be producing electricity before now. Instead, after years of busted assurances and forecasts, Georgia Power’s latest estimate is for completion in another five years.

Maybe. Because now it’s also warning that there’s a whole lot that still could go wrong to screw up its latest projection. So, don’t hold Georgia Power accountable to that timetable.

Bowers didn’t hint at any remorse during what apparently was his only appearance in a Georgia PSC hearing since getting Georgia Power’s top job almost seven years ago. As Sir Elton sang: “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.”

Read the whole article: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Time to decide if you pay more for Georgia’s nuclear debacle

by Matt KempnerVogtle_ajc_8-3-17
11/3/17 ATLANTA: Don’t read beyond this sentence if you don’t pay a power bill in Georgia and never will.

Otherwise, get your wallet out.

There’s a bit of show biz about to start Monday in hearings with elected state regulators. When it’s over, it’s likely to end up costing you and your Georgia descendents for decades to come.

That’s because the only giant, deeply delayed, steeply over-budget nuclear power construction project still underway in the U.S. may well get another wink and pat on the back from Georgia regulators.

So far, Georgia politicians have failed to enact significant consumer protections that would limit a government-enforced monopoly (Georgia Power) from sidestepping the vast majority of risk while raking in extra (extra!) profits on the overruns for the company’s Plant Vogtle expansion.

Elected members of the Georgia Public Service Commission start the first of four days of hearings Monday. It’s Round One in what on paper could be a momentous decision after years of complex construction plagued by unfinished designs, incomplete scheduling, flawed parts and workmanship, insufficient oversight early on and too much worker downtime.

The PSC accepted the setbacks, missteps and busted budget in the past. But now PSC members are faced with their first go/no-go vote since originally approving the project in 2009. That’s because the bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the project’s main contractor, throws significantly more risk and cost into the mix.

Read the whole article: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Georgia Power vs. the law of holes

Plant-Vogtle-construction-2014by Lyle Harris
10/16/17 ATLANTA 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
8/26/17 ATLANTA: 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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