Plant Vogtle Construction will continue; Ratepayers expected to pay more eventually
Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017
(News 12 at 6 O'clock/NBC 26 News at 7)
ATLANTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Georgias' Utility Regulators will allow construction to continue on Plant Vogtle Reactors 3 and 4, despite billions of dollars in cost overruns and the project being well-past the deadline.
"I never had the intention of any other vote today .. other than yes, we agree to go forward," said Georgia Public Service Chairman Stan Wise.
Georgia Public Service Commissioners agreed that $7.3 billion is a "reasonable" capital cost for the project. That number is lower than the $9 billion the PSC staff recommended would be "uneconomic" but officials say the approved projection doesn't consider financing cost.
PSC Chairman Stan Wise says Georgia Power customers will pay as much as 8 percent more for power in 2021 when nuclear reactor 3 becomes operational.
Georgias' Utility Regulators agreed to lower the profit Georgia Power and other Plant Vogtle co-owners will get out of this project. They agreed to the motion presented by Commissioner Tim Echols to reduce the "return on equity" or ROE from 10% to 8.3%.
Groups like the Southern Environmental Law Center believe today's decision doesn't do enough to hold the companies' accountable.
"What had happened is that the company will experience a slight trimming of its' profits in the construction phase but the company stands to make over $5 billion because of the delays," said Southen Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Kurt Ebersbach.
Commissioners also agreed to a Vogtle Settlement Refund. Georgia Power will take a portion of the 3.68 billion Toshiba paid back and credit each Georgia Power Customer with three monthly $25 credits in 2018. Officials claim Ebersbach says it's not enough to make up for money customers have and will pay over the years.
"Customers are still paying for the entire plant. They are just paying slightly less for the next five years during a period of delay they aren't responsible for in the first place," said Ebersbach.
Commissioners are still unsure how the Production Tax Credit, or lack thereof, will impact the costs of Plant Vogtle construction. The production tax credits impact overall operating cost, according to the motion set forth by Commissioner Tim Echols.
Commissioners agreed if the Production Tax Credit is not extended in the new tax plan the commission gets to reconsider their decision to go forward with Plant Vogtle.
Commissioners also agreed to authorize 5 MW for additional community solar projects, which will be located on the Plant Vogtle site.
ATLANTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Georgia Public Service Commissioners have voted unanimously to continue construction on Plant Vogtle reactors 3 and 4, a project that Georgia Power approved and stated they will complete.
On Thursday, the Public Service Commission met to discuss whether or not to continue on with the project and to discuss the capital cost should the project continue.
Georgia PSC Chairman Stan Wise allowed the parties involved to speak for five minutes each before the vote. Erin Glynn with Nuclear Watch South asked the commission to vote in the best interest of ratepayers and "not reward bad behavior."
A Georgia Power representative asked the commissioners to consider the matter that it "isn't a disagreement about the facts," and that "future Georgians will look back and thank you."
Commissioner Tim Echols moved that Vogtle 3 and 4 should be completed and believed the company's revised schedule and forecast were "reasonable." However, the cost of the project should be reduced at a capital cost of $7.3 billion with "deep cuts" to happen before units 3 and 4 go online.
In addition, commissoners voted to approve item 16 in the motion which would authorize 5 MW for additional community solar projects.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal praised the decision by the Public Service Commission members to approve the continuation of the Plant Vogtle expansion.
The target date for completion for the reactors are November 2021 for unit 3 and November 2022 for unit 4, respectively. Georgia Power states that the new units are co-owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities, and are the only new nuclear units currently under construction in the United States.