Georgia Power suspends study for new nuclear power plant near Columbus


Georgia Power is shelving its study of a site near Columbus for a new nuclear plant, saying it won’t be needed as soon as previously expected.

In a letter Wednesday, the utility notified the Georgia Public Service Commission “of its intention to suspend work on the investigation of pursuing a new nuclear generation option.”

The company said its most recent forecasts showed that suspending the study, which by itself was expected to cost $99 million, “is unlikely to delay the ability to deploy new nuclear when needed by customers.”

While Georgia Power cited demand forecasts, the decision also comes as the utility and parent Southern Co. face more uncertainty around an existing nuclear expansion project at Plant Vogtle near Augusta, where two new reactors are under construction.

Toshiba Corp. is looking into a possible bankruptcy filing by its U.S. nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse, according to news reports from Japan. Westinghouse has suffered heavy losses from contracts to build two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle and similar reactors at another plant in South Carolina.

Last month, Toshiba also said it will not build any more nuclear plants, after disclosing a $6.3 billion loss at the Westinghouse unit.

Toshiba’s woes raise questions about the potential effect of a Westinghouse bankruptcy on the Vogtle project and also could cloud Georgia Power’s consideration of another nuclear plant in Stewart County, south of Columbus.

The utility had argued it needed to start the site study to capitalize on its experience with the Vogtle project, which uses Westinghouse’s new reactor designs. In July, the PSC approved funding for the study.

The Vogtle project is already more than $3 billion over budget and over three years behind schedule. Georgia Power owns almost half of the project, and is the lead partner.

Reports in Japan hint that losses on the Vogtle and South Carolina projects have shaken Toshiba, a conglomerate best known for TVs and laptops, to its foundations. The company’s chairman recently stepped down, and it is considering selling its profitable chip business to raise cash.

Reuters, citing unnamed sources, reported that the Tokyo company has asked a Japanese law firm to help estimate the financial impact of a Chapter 11 filing by its U.S. nuclear construction arm. Last week, the Japanese business newspaper Nikkei, citing an unnamed company official, said a Westinghouse bankruptcy filing is an option it is considering.

A Westinghouse spokeswoman said last week in an emailed statement: “We are not considering bankruptcy at this time.”

A lengthy court-supervised reorganization of Westinghouse could further complicate the Vogtle project and threaten the latest target date for completion, the end of 2020.

A bankruptcy filing could also allow Westinghouse to renegotiate its contracts with Georgia Power.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Like your workplace, tell us about it

You say you work for a great company with an encouraging and inclusive atmosphere. You say you have good benefits. You say your bosses are fair, sympathetic, understanding. Then why not share the good news? And, there’s still time to do it because the nomination deadline has been extended to Nov. 17. In March, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution...
Coke rejects charges of deceit in Diet Coke’s name
Coke rejects charges of deceit in Diet Coke’s name

A lawsuit has been filed against Coca-Cola charging the company with falsely advertising Diet Coke — allegations that the company vehemently rejects. The plaintiffs say that, instead of aiding in weight loss, the drink actually promotes weight gain and – worse – triggers other health problems, according to a report in Top Class Actions...
Wes Moss: Why bitcoin is a big deal, and why you should be careful
Wes Moss: Why bitcoin is a big deal, and why you should be careful

Bitcoin. It’s everywhere. Thanks to its skyrocketing value, it’s been a regular topic on the front page of every financial website. One bitcoin is currently worth $5,500, up from $1,000 in December. I hear what you’re thinking. Wow. So, what’s bitcoin? And am I missing out on something? Bitcoin, simply put, is a currency, similar...
Athenahealth cutting jobs, but outlook in Atlanta unclear
Athenahealth cutting jobs, but outlook in Atlanta unclear

Athenahealth, the Massachusetts-based electronic medical records company with a substantial operation in metro Atlanta, said Thursday it plans to cut its workforce by 9 percent as part of a cost cutting plan. It’s unclear how many jobs in Atlanta might be affected, but before Thursday, Athenahealth had been in growth mode in the Atlanta area...
Video: Georgia brings its bid for Amazon HQ2 to Seattle
Video: Georgia brings its bid for Amazon HQ2 to Seattle

A top Georgia recruiter on Thursday walked into Amazon’s Day One tower in downtown Seattle to hand-deliver the state’s pitch for the e-commerce giant’s second headquarters. And she had a camera crew in tow. Brittany Holtzclaw, director of logistics, energy, agribusiness and food processing for the state’s economic development...
More Stories