Southern Co.: ‘Weeks’ before we’ll know cost of Plant Vogtle expansion


A Southern Co. executive told state regulators that it will likely be up to “several weeks” before it knows how much it will cost to complete its troubled Plant Vogtle expansion.

Since the late-March bankruptcy of the project’s key contractor, Westinghouse Electric, Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern, has been spending about $50 million a month under an interim agreement with the contractor to keep work going at the plant near Augusta.

The interim agreement expires Friday, but David McKinney, Southern’s vice president of nuclear development, told the Georgia Public Service Commission at a hearing Thursday that he was “not ready to say today” if it will be extended.

“You may see that interim agreement extended,” said McKinney.

He said Southern and Georgia Power are still evaluating what to do, including whether to abandon the project, and how much it will cost to finish the Vogtle expansion.

The hearing was on Georgia Power’s progress on the Vogtle expansion in the last half of 2016, when it spent $222 million on the project.

An army of about 6,000 workers are building two new reactors at Vogtle, but the job is well over $3 billion over budget and more than three years behind schedule.

Georgia Power officials said the project slipped at least four months farther behind schedule in the second half of 2016, and has fallen farther behind this year.

Partly because of Westinghouse’s bankruptcy, the utility’s executives told the PSC they no longer expect to be able to finish the reactors by the end of 2020 — the latest deadline set last year under a settlement between the agency and Georgia Power.

The project is being bankrolled by more than $8 billion in federal loans and loan guarantees, as well as nearly $2 billion paid through “financing” surcharges that add about $100 a year to residential customers’ bills.

Critics used Thursday’s hearing to express their anger over Vogtle’s costly troubles. Several urged the PSC to pull the plug on the project, arguing that the units aren’t needed because electricity demand in Georgia hasn’t grown over the past decade.

“I am angry,” said Atlanta resident Barbara Antonoplos. She said it’s “absurd” that the PSC says it didn’t see Westinghouse’s bankruptcy coming.

In the recent settlement a few months before Westinghouse’s bankruptcy, she added, the PSC “approved as prudent every penny of the billions that have been spent” on Vogtle, and even more for future spending.

“No one now can deny that this is a very big mess,” said Robert Searfoss, of Atlanta. He said it’s also unfair that older customers have been paying for a project for years and may never get any benefit from it.

“I’m an elderly customer caught in the Vogtle vortex,” he said. “



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Phone scams on the rise, Georgia Power says
Phone scams on the rise, Georgia Power says

Reports of fraudulent activity targeting Georgia Power customers are on the rise. The company said scammers, posing as Georgia Power employees have been defrauding residential customers and businesses threatening disconnection if bill payments are not made immediately. The scammers allegedly attempt the scams in person, over the phone or...
Georgia economy tightly tied to global factors, says GSU forecaster
Georgia economy tightly tied to global factors, says GSU forecaster

The economic trajectory of Georgia is now pretty much the same as the national track, making the state’s growth sensitive to the same big factors – especially trade and interest rates, according to a high-profile forecaster. Job growth will continue – albeit more slowly than in the past several years – but after nearly nine...
Hartsfield-Jackson moving forward on $130 million emergency generators
Hartsfield-Jackson moving forward on $130 million emergency generators

Hartsfield-Jackson International is moving forward with a $130 million plan for emergency generators to prevent the type of massive power outage that halted operations at the world’s busiest airport one day last December. The airport plans to install 20 to 21 generators to enable it to generate about 60 to 65 megawatts of power for full backup...
Former airport executive says Reed’s brother involved in key meeting
Former airport executive says Reed’s brother involved in key meeting

A Hartsfield-Jackson International executive fired earlier this year because of his wife’s ties to a concessionaire says that before he was hired he met with former Mayor Kasim Reed’s brother who, along with the airport manager at the time, knew about the potential conflict. Cortez Carter’s contention — that Tracy Reed was involved...
Metro Atlanta home sales crimped by record shortage of listings
Metro Atlanta home sales crimped by record shortage of listings

Metro Atlanta’s incredible, shrinking inventory is at it again: the number of homes listed for sale continued to fall in April, according to a report issued by Re/Max of Georgia. That supply of homes on the market represented just 1.9 months of sales, compared to the six or seven months of supply that is typical in a healthy real estate market...
More Stories