Georgia Power Recommends Completing Vogtle

Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power, with agreement from the other three co-owners (Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power, and Dalton Utilities), has filed its recommendation with the Georgia Public Service Commission to complete the Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 project. The Vogtle project has been plagued by cost overruns, delays, and the bankruptcy of Westinghouse, the project’s original contractor, and caused many to examine whether the project should be completed. Units 3 and 4 were originally expected to be completed at a cost of $14.3B and were scheduled to be online in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Cost overruns and delays have caused the estimated cost of the project to increase to more than $25B and estimated online dates to be pushed out five years.

Key Details

  • Bechtel beat out Fluor as the contractor to manage daily construction efforts
  • Toshiba, parent company of Westinghouse, has agreed to pay Vogtle owners $3.68B whether it is finished or not
  • Georgia Power expects to pay an additional $9.8B to $10.9B for its 45.7% stake in the project
  • Oglethorpe Power has requested an additional $1.6B in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy (DOE), on top of the $3B they’ve already received, to cover the cost of completion for their 30% stake in the project
  • Southern Company is counting on loan extensions from the DOE and an extension of nuclear production tax credits, which are set to expire in 2020, in order to finish the project
    • The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee has cleared a bill to enable this
  • Unit 3 is expected to be online February 2021
  • Unit 4 is expected to be online March 2022
  • The Georgia Public Service Commission will have final say on whether to accept the proposed recommendation and allow the project to move forward
    • The PSC will conduct a six-month review before making their final decision

Implications

If the Georgia Public Service Commission approves the recommendations, it will mean the Vogtle project will continue to be the only nuclear construction project currently ongoing in the United States. The other nuclear construction project in the United States, VC Summer, was abandoned in July when state-owned utility Santee Cooper, one of the two South Carolina utilities involved in the project, pulled out due to cost overruns and delays in the wake of Westinghouse’s bankruptcy. The recommendation to complete the project shows Southern Company’s commitment to pursuing zero-emission baseload generation and signals that nuclear is still viewed as a key component of our energy future.

More Information

Utility Dive: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/vogtle-nuclear-construction-to-continue-southern-co-says/503977/

E&E News: https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060059449

E&E News: https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060059183

Power Magazine: http://www.powermag.com/bechtel-in-fluor-out-as-vogtle-construction-continues/

Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/nuclear-power-gets-a-second-chance-as-southern-company-reboots-stalled-plant-in-georgia/article/2633079

New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/31/business/georgia-vogtle-nuclear-reactors.html

Additional Contributing Author: Frank Nelms

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