You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

Ga. Power: ‘Every option’ open at Plant Vogtle


A day after its key contractor filed for bankruptcy, Georgia Power on Thursday said it is looking at all options for what to do with its unfinished Plant Vogtle nuclear project.

“Every option is on the table,” Georgia Power attorney Kevin Green told members of the Georgia Public Service Commission, which regulates the Atlanta-based utility.

Westinghouse Electric, which is supplying the reactors and overseeing construction of two new reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta, filed for Chapter 11 Wednesday, largely as a result of billions in losses on the Vogtle project and another in South Carolina.

Even before the bankruptcy filing, the Vogtle project had slipped more than three years behind schedule and more than $3 billion over budget.

At the least, the bankruptcy filing is widely expected to lead to more delays and higher costs, ultimately costing most of Georgia’s utility customers more.

Chapter 11 allows companies to remain in operation while restructuring. Georgia Power said it has a deal with Westinghouse to continue work at the site during a 30-day “initial assessment” period that could be extended.

But Westinghouse and its parent, Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, could use the reorganization to cancel its contract with Georgia Power as soon as April 28.

“If they reject the contract, we are prepared to step in,” said Green.

Consumer and environmental groups, meanwhile, said the best course is to shut down the project, which they said is too costly and unnecessary because Georgia Power already has enough power generating capacity.

“We believe the worst alternative would be to continue constructing the plant,” said Liz Coyle, executive director of consumer advocacy group Georgia Watch. “We have been saying for years that these projects are too risky and that too much of the risk is being born by ratepayers.”

Georgia Power and parent Southern Co. contend the new reactors, which have an expected life of 60 years, will help diversify power sources, meet future needs, and help keep rates down in the long run.

If the project is abandoned, customers’ rates could still go up to reimburse Georgia Power and other project partners for the roughly $8 billion in construction costs spent so far, including $3.9 billion by Georgia Power. Consumers already are paying financing costs in their monthly bills, with construction costs to be added later.

Green, the Georgia Power attorney, said the company is studying how much it will cost to complete the new reactors, perhaps under its own management, and whether it still makes sense to finish the job.

“We do know that we have almost $2 billion left … to fund a self-build” but it ultimately may not be the best option, Green said. “We have no pre-conceived notions.”

Other options include converting one or both reactors into natural gas-fired plants, or just completing one reactor.

Environmental and consumer groups said solar or other renewable energy projects should also be considered.

The Vogtle matter took up much of Thursday’s PSC meeting, initially scheduled for other reasons. The elected commissioners, who set cost-sharing formulas that affect rates, expressed frustration at the turn of events.

Commissioner Tim Echols said much of the cost overruns were related to Westinghouse fixing problems with its new AP 1000 reactor design. The design is being used at Vogtle and another project in South Carolina owned by SCANA Corp.

“These people (Westinghouse) want our ratepayers to pay their learning curve,” said Echols. “They were the ones that were going to sell this technology around the world and make billions of dollars.”

Commissioner H. Doug Everett said the bankruptcy has “nothing to do” with Georgia Power’s obligations to the regulator regarding Vogtle.

“We are looking for you to do what you said you would do,” he said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Study: Government pension plans still losing ground
Study: Government pension plans still losing ground

Despite the booming stock market in recent years, most state and local government pension plans fell further behind their retirement obligations in 2016, according to a new study released Thursday. The typical government pension’s funding level — or amount of savings it holds compared to the retirement obligations it will have to pay out...
Ga. banks less stressed, but lending slowdown a worry
Ga. banks less stressed, but lending slowdown a worry

Judging from regulators’ recent actions and stock market movements, you might think banks big and small have made a turn onto Easy Street. All the largest U.S. banks, including Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks, recently passed this year’s Federal Reserve “stress tests” aimed at ensuring they could survive a severe recession. That...
Atlanta airport concessionaire acquires Vino Volo wine bar chain
Atlanta airport concessionaire acquires Vino Volo wine bar chain

Atlanta-based airport concessionaire Hojeij Branded Foods said it is acquiring wine bar chain Vino Volo, which has locations in airports around the country. San Francisco-based Vino Volo, founded by CEO Doug Tomlinson in 2004, has more than 40 locations around the country offering wine tastings and small plates. Tomlinson will be retained as president...
Developer plans major renovation of Buckhead luxury hotel
Developer plans major renovation of Buckhead luxury hotel

A Texas firm plans an extensive renovation of the W Atlanta-Buckhead hotel after its recent purchase of the 12-story building. Woodbine Legacy Investments acquired the W Atlanta-Buckhead hotel on Peachtree Road near Atlanta Financial Center for $73 million. The 291-room hotel also includes the rooftop bar Whiskey Blue and Cook Hall restaurant...
Ga. job growth bounces back in June
Ga. job growth bounces back in June

Like a tired driver with a fresh jolt of caffeine, the Georgia economy punched the gas in June and powered to a strong month of job growth and the lowest unemployment rate since the fall of 2007. The state added 27,400 jobs, while the jobless rate slipped from 4.9 percent in May to 4.8 percent in June, the state Labor Department reported Thursday....
More Stories