Southern Company and its utility partners are seemingly moving forward with the over-budget and delayed nuclear expansion project at Plant Vogtle in Burke County Georgia along the Savannah River.
In South Carolina, SCE&G and Santee Cooper have recently opted to cancel their interest in the only other nuclear reactor construction project in the country, the V.C. Summer plant, due to similar concerns.
"Uncertainly looms in the wake of the Westinghouse bankruptcy, the designer and builder of the AP1000 reactor design, and parent company Toshiba’s continued financial uncertainly given the multi-billion dollar losses because of the Vogtle and V.C. Summer reactor projects. The total project cost is now estimated at more than $25 billion," says the nonprofit group Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE).
“Southern Company’s decision is an anomaly, a very expensive one. Even as every other utility realized the extreme risks to their shareholders and customers and correctly decided to stop the financial bleeding, Southern stubbornly presses forward," says Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
"It’s imperative that Georgia regulators at the Public Service Commission conduct an open and transparent process and protect ratepayers from these unfair financial burdens — ensuring that all additional risks be borne by the Company and its shareholders. Further, the Vogtle project has already benefitted from many billions of dollars in federal taxpayer funded incentives – not one more dollar should be doled out to this project at taxpayers’ expense."
This week, Southern Company filed more details with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and filed the 17th semi-annual Vogtle Construction Monitoring report with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC).
"The monitoring report mentions an additional $4.5 billion capital cost estimate to complete Georgia Power’s portion of the project as 45.7% owner and a total capital cost estimate of $9.45 billion to complete the project, which represents more than a doubling of the original capital cost estimate," says SACE.
"The report estimates increased financing costs to $3.4 billion bringing Georgia Power’s share of the project for capital and financing costs to $12.2 billion, a doubling of the original $6.1 billion. The completion schedule is also significantly delayed, again. Originally the two reactor units should have both been online in April 2016 and April 2017 and new Company estimates are November 2021 for unit 3 and November 2022 for unit 4," SACE says.
The report includes cost estimates for cancelling the project: “between $730 million and $760 million, of which Georgia Power’s share is estimated to be approximately $330 million to $350 million exclusive of estimated credits from the salvage and sale of assets.”