by 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.”
by 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.
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.
by 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.
by 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.
by 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.
by Gloria Tatum
(APN) ATLANTA 4/24/17— On Tuesday, April 18, 2017, Glenn Carroll, Director of Nuclear Watch South (NWS), filed a request for an emergency public hearing with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to seek relief for ratepayers from the Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) tax on customers’ electric bills.
Georgia Power ratepayers have been paying in advance for the construction of Plant Vogtle nuclear reactor units 3 and 4 since 2009, because of the Georgia Legislature’s approval of CWIP via Senate Bill 31, which subverts the traditional ratemaking process and undermines the notion of Georgia Power shareholders taking any risk.
by Kristi Swartz
4/14/17: Scana Corp. executives might extend a contract with Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC as the utility decides whether to complete its multibillion-dollar nuclear power expansion in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, Southern Co.’s Georgia Power unit has yet to decide whether it needs more time to figure out how to proceed with its twin reactors under construction in Georgia.
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 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.