Plant Vogtle, PSC Staff Consultant says project may not be “economic” to complete

(WSAV) – Georgia Power says by the end of July, it will assume management of the project to complete two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

But today, more concerns about whether it’s a good financial bet for customers.

Georgia Power’s own update about the project looks at the positives but also shows workers at the Plant Vogtle site being assured that the utility wants to keep construction going.

At issue – the bankruptcy of Westinghouse which is the designer of the nuclear reactors and which was managing the project

Skeptics don’t see a way forward saying the project’s behind schedule and over budget.

Now the public service commission’s own consultant is weighing in saying the revised schedule of completion, 2020, might be moved back and that the project might be delayed by another three years, with both reactors done by 2023, which is six years behind schedule.

That same report says Georgia Power’s cost alone could rise an additional $3 billion and the project might not be economic to complete.

The consultants said these are scenarios and worse case at that. But the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is inclined to think it may be right on track.

Georgia Power expects to have a new cost completion estimate by august and says it has assurances from the parent company of Westinghouse that utilities building the reactors and their customers won’t be left holding the bag – or at least not all of it.

Meanwhile opponents again today called on the public service commission to stop the project.


(WSAV) – The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) is meeting today to consider continued funding approval for construction (thus far) on Plant Vogtle reactors 3 and 4. Under consideration is approving about $222 million in costs already incurred by Georgia Power.

But for the most part, the thoughts of many at today’s hearing surround the future of the project. Georgia Power announced yesterday is it assuming control of the project by late July, meaning it will manage construction, etc., after taking over from Westinghouse which has gone bankrupt. Westinghouse (whose parent company is now Toshiba) is the designer and builder of the AP1000 reactor necessary to the project.

A news release from Georgia Power says “the scope of the service agreement includes engineering, procurement and licensing support from Westinghouse, as well as access to Westinghouse intellectual property needed for the project.”

Georgia Power’s news release also indicated that “it is working to complete a full-scale schedule and cost-to-complete analysis and will work with the Georgia Public Service Commission to determine the best path forward for customers.”

Meanwhile, a report from the PSC’s own consultants (Philip Hayet and Lane Kollen, hired for continued evaluation of the Vogtle project) indicates that more delays might take place along with increased costs and that in some scenarios, finishing the project isn’t necessarily a good economical choice for customers. The report indicates there a worse case scenario could see a 36 month delay (project completion estimated in June of 2022 and June of 2023, six years behind schedule) and possibly an additional $3 billion in costs. One part of the report reads “With a 36-month delay and $3 billion in added capital costs, even with (certain stipulations in place) it would be uneconomic to complete the Vogtle Project.”

The report goes on to say another scenario creates even more uncertainty for rate payers but also said “once the Company completes its evaluation and provides its results and work papers to Staff, Staff will review and develop its own economic analysis.”

Georgia Power tells us that some of this report is hypothetical. It also tells us that Toshiba, the parent company of Westinghouse has guaranteed their work per an agreement which protects customers and guarantees that Toshiba will pay $3.68 billion back to co-owners.

Meanwhile, watchdog groups continue to call for the cancellation of what some are now calling the “Vogtle Vortex.” The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has estimated the project cost (this includes costs for Georgia Power and two partners) could continue to climb from what has been estimated at about $14 billion to a staggering number of $29 billion. This is SACE’s own estimate and not verified by any PSC numbers or staff.

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