by 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.
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 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 Kristi E. Swartz
4/20/2017: Roughly 30 vendors have asked Westinghouse Electric Co. to return $35 million in materials and products that the mega-contractor ordered for four nuclear reactors in Georgia and South Carolina before the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, documents show.
At issue are “reclamation of claim” letters, which are routine during a matter of bankruptcy. Broadly, they allow vendors to ask that unpaid materials and goods ordered within 45 days of a bankruptcy filing be set aside and returned.
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 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.”
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) 7/7/15 — Mississippi regulators plan to discuss at a Tuesday meeting how to obey a state Supreme Court order to refund about $350 million that Mississippi Power Co. has collected from customers to build a power plant in Kemper County.
The Supreme Court ruled in February that an 18 percent rate increase was illegal because regulators didn’t conduct hearings to ensure Mississippi Power was spending prudently on the $6.2 billion Kemper plant. It also ruled that regulators used an illegal rate structure, didn’t notify all ratepayers and broke public meetings law by negotiating a deal in private.
The Public Service Commission, Mississippi Power and some business groups asked the court to reconsider, but the court reaffirmed its ruling in June.
Now, commissioners must sort out how the refunds will be issued.