Consumer groups demand more details from Georgia Power on Vogtle


In the wake of the recent announcement of increased project costs at Plant Vogtle, consumer groups in the state are calling for the Public Service Commission to require Georgia Power to be more transparent during its bi-annual progress reports.

Georgia Interfaith Power and Light and the Partnership for Southern Equity questioned how the cost to complete forecast could have increased by $2.3 billion just six weeks after its Vogtle Construction Monitoring hearing. During that hearing, the utility company had assured commissioners there would be no added costs for the Vogtle 3 and 4 project.

“Our question is simply, what is the construction monitoring process for, if information like this does not come to light before and when actually witnesses are on the stand and actually talking about it?” said Kurt Ebersbach with the Southern Environmental Law Center.

The consumer groups, along with the PSC staff, say Vogtle managers need to provide more details about the risks and costs associated with the overbudgeted project.

Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins said the final cost forecast was not known when company officials testified before the commission in June.

The costs for Vogtle have changed several times since the project got certified in 2009. That’s cause for worry, said Ebersbach. He isn’t convinced this is the last time the project’s cost will change since no cap has been set.

“It apparently can keep going up like this,” said Ebersbach.

Georgia Power attributed the cost increases to the need for “craft labor incentives to both attract and retain adequate staffing levels and increased field supervision and engineering oversight.”

Reports emerged earlier in the year about craft labor shortages hitting the plant, as potential workers opted for projects offering better pay and incentives.

“The competition for craft labor is difficult,” said Commission chairman Lauren McDonald last week.

However, he said, the company decided to shoulder some of the extra costs, which is worth commending.

“They knew they could not come back to this commission for $1.1 billion and get recovery moving forward,” McDonald said during a recent PSC energy committee meeting.

Despite the company’s promise to absorb the extra costs, interest groups are concerned that the increased Vogtle costs will eventually fall on the ratepayer.

Citing the failure of big institutions such as Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual and the V. C. Summer nuclear project, Mark Woodall, chair of the Sierra Club, said Vogtle was not too big to fail.

“In any other state, Vogtle 3 and 4 would already have failed,” said Woodall.

As debate continues around the viability of the project, commissioners decide Tuesday whether to approve $448 million the company said was spent on the plant between July 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Delta to use facial recognition in Atlanta’s international terminal
Delta to use facial recognition in Atlanta’s international terminal

Delta Air Lines plans to launch what it calls the nation’s first “biometric terminal” by deploying facial recognition at multiple points in the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson. At the Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal and Concourse F at the Atlanta airport, Delta plans to use facial recognition at check-in...
Georgia jobless rate dips below U.S. average
Georgia jobless rate dips below U.S. average

Georgia’s economy added 12,000 jobs last month as the state unemployment rate ticked down below the national average for the first time in more than a decade, according to a report Thursday from the state Department of Labor. The jobless rate dipped from 3.9 percent in July to 3.8 percent in August — a sign that, even if the U.S. ...
Gap to hire 400 workers as it launches holiday hiring event
Gap to hire 400 workers as it launches holiday hiring event

Gap Inc. will hire more than 400 seasonal workers to service its stores in the metro Atlanta area during the holiday season. The retailer expects to fill positions in its stores, call centers and distribution centers. The company will hold holiday hiring events at all Gap, Gap Outlet, Banana Republic and Old Navy stores on Oct. 6, from 10 am to 2 pm...
Smart padlock protects front porch deliveries
Smart padlock protects front porch deliveries

The BoxLock is designed to prevent theft of delivery packages left by the front door. In addition to the anti-theft aspect, packages are protected from bad weather, which has victimized me. Nothing like having a box soaked in a thunderstorm, etc. The BoxLock smart padlock solves both these problems. According to BoxLock, this is the first of its kind...
More Stories