More delays and higher costs for Vogtle nuclear reactors, consumer groups say no surpriseJuly 30, 2021
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia Power announced Thursday ‘a revised schedule and cost forecast’ for the Vogtle 3 and 4 nuclear expansion project. In other words, the construction of the new reactors is delayed again and there are more cost overruns.
This company says the latest overrun is $460 million but that Georgia Power shareholders are set to take the loss. The Public Service Commission’s public interest advocacy staff and their witnesses recently testified the overrun may be closer to $1 Billion. Georgia Power indicated its share of the approved project cost of $7.3 Billion has now risen to just over $9 Billion.
It also said an expected date to put the first of two new reactors, Unit 3 online, which was recently pushed back from December of this year to the first quarter of 2022, has been pushed back again to the second quarter of 2022.
“This latest delay should not come as a surprise to anyone that’s been paying attention because every schedule that Georgia Power has put out before the Public Service Commission (PSC) has been bogus,” said Bryan Jacob from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Liz Coyle from Georgia Watch agrees.
“It’s not a surprise and I think this is a moment when the power company is having to engage in a bit of a reality check,” said Coyle. “PSC staff has been saying through the last few cycles of project reviews that the company was not going to meet service dates for 2021 and 2022.”
Coyle and Jacob also have their doubts that the company will make the second quarter of 2022 for Unit 3.
“Commission staff has been saying all along it finds it unlikey that Georgia Power can meet targets it sets because they have been missing so many key milestons on the schedule,” said Coyle
“The company is still presenting too rosy a picture,” said Jacob who told us that commission staff already says Unit 3 is more likely to go online between August and October.
Coyle says both units were originally set to go online in 2016 and 2017. Now it’s 2022 and 2023. And while Georgia Power customers have not paid higher rates yet as a result of the project, Coyle says millions of dollars has been given to the company for loan interest costs in a nuclear fee on power bills.
“That’s what initially put rate payers on the hook,” says Coyle.
Coyle says since the project was conceived more than a decade ago, things have changed in terms of energy use and the availably of renewable energy, including more advances in battery power storage for solar energy.
However, once the new reactors are online, customers are expected to pay higher rates of up to $14 per month (for average households) to recoup the capital costs of construction.
“We shouldn’t have to pay because they went with nuclear instead of other alternatives and because they have not stayed within the orignal budget,” said Coyle.
Coyle also says many customers are already having trouble paying…