Georgia Commission May Vote Next Week On Vogtle Reactors

Dec 12, 2017

The state agency that regulates utilities could decide next week whether to complete two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle or cancel the project that's been plagued by delays and escalating costs.

Georgia Power estimates the reactors will cost $12.2 billion and won't be finished until 2021 and 2022. The new reactors on the Savannah River near Waynesboro were initially expected to cost the company about $6 billion and be completed this year.

The state Public Service Commission has to decide whether the reactors are still a good deal for ratepayers, who would bear much of the cost. The PSC's analysts say it's not, arguing the project's current price tag is $3.9 billion more than what they consider reasonable.

A vote by the PSC on whether to move forward was expected in February. But PSC Chairman Stan Wise told The Augusta Chronicle the commission plans to vote Dec. 21. Wise said Georgia Power wants a decision now so that, if the project gets cancelled, the company could take advantage of tax laws that Congress plans to change next year.

PSC staff members have said problems with the Plant Vogtle expansion began early with Westinghouse, manufacturer of the AP1000 reactors being installed at Vogtle. They say the reactors' design wasn't far enough along when the project began in 2009.

Westinghouse declared bankruptcy in March. Construction of two of its new reactors in South Carolina was halted over the summer after that project was deemed too expensive to continue.

Analysts for the PSC have recommended halting the Plant Vogtle expansion as well unless Georgia Power agrees to pass on more of the costs to its shareholders.