Tag Archives: Southern Company

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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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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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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PSC Commissioner Moves for Georgia Power to Stop Collecting Nuclear Tax

bubba-2by 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.

Read the whole article: Atlanta Progressive News

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Southern’s path to ‘first’ new reactor filled with pitfalls

image_asset_18775by 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.

Read the whole article: E&E News

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Vendors line up to demand returns from Westinghouse

Vogtle_eye_viewby 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.

Read the whole story: E&E News

 

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Cost of Westinghouse collapse turns up heat on Scana, Southern

summer

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.

Read the whole story: E&E News

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‘Every option’ being looked at for Plant Vogtle after contractor’s bankruptcy

newsEngin.18249486_022215-nuke-price-bs18by 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.

Read the whole article: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Time for a nuclear apology from your power company

fanningby 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.”

Read the whole story: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Regulators order end to Kemper rate increase, plan refunds

19gibo.AuSt.77JACKSON, Miss. 7/7/1 –  Regulators on Tuesday ordered Mississippi Power Co. to lower rates later this month and plan for customer refunds by November.

In issuing the order, the Mississippi Public Service Commission voted 3-0 to comply with a state Supreme Court order that found illegal a 2013 rate increase for the $6.2 billion plant.

Read the whole article: The Sun Herald

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