What is the future of Plant Vogtle Project? Public Service Commission takes up issue Thursday

Is there a way forward on the Plant Vogtle project? Thursday, Georgia’s five Public Service Commissioners will take up the issue. Several commissioners say they want to find a way forward but it may require Georgia Power to assume more of the financial burden.

The project is now five years behind schedule and according to latest estimates the cost to complete would now be double what was proposed to the PSC in 2009. Sara Barczak with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says Georgia Power’s cost originally projected to be about $6 Billion is now proposed at $12 Billion. She says the total cost (which includes Georgia Power and two other utility partners) may now be at least $28 Billion.

I get no satisfaction in saying we told you so but literally every warning sign that has been brought up by our organizatioin and others for years and years and years has happened,” said Barczak.

As part of Thursday’s meeting, the PSC will consider what its own staff experts have provided in terms of analysis of the project and the way forward. Staff has indicated that nothing above $9 Billion should be authorized for Georgia Power’s costs and that a request from Georgia Power to spend an additional $1.6 Billion isn’t reasonable. “Staff has clearly said that the project is no longer economical for the customers to continue paying for and in fact said there are cheaper ways to do this and that includes cancelling and doing something else,” said Barczak. “What Commissioners will have in front of them is a red flag that’s being waved.”

Barczak says if the project does move forward that “customers need to be protected.”

She says about $2 Billion has been collected from customers thus far in the nuclear fee that has been charged monthly since 2010.

Staff also said in terms of construction delays – that mismanagement contributed to some of them. “This is Billions in suffering that Georgia Power customers are dealing with that could continue forward if the right decisions aren’t made by the PSC.

Georgia Power doesn’t agree with all the conclusions in the staff reports and has filed its own briefs. The company told us via email their “assessment and recommendation to move forward stands.”

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