ATLANTA – Georgia’s utility-regulating agency voted unanimously Tuesday to let Georgia Power pass on to customers $2.1 billion of the costs of completing the first of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.
That figure, which will boost average residential customer bills by $3.78 a month, was set in an agreement the Atlanta-based utility and the state Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Public Interest Advocacy Staff reached last month.
Under the agreement, Georgia Power will not be allowed to start recovering the $2.1 billion until one month after the reactor unit goes into commercial operation. The latest delay in the project Georgia Power announced late last month means that first reactor won’t be ready until the third quarter of next year.
The PSC voted in August to stop approving incremental cost increases incurred at the long-delayed, over-budget nuclear expansion at the plant south of Augusta. Instead, the commission postponed deciding how much of the cost overruns Georgia Power customers will ultimately have to bear until after Unit 3, the first of the two new reactors, is completed.
The Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion, originally projected to cost about $14 billion when the PSC approved the project a dozen years ago, has soared to at least $26 billion.
The cost overruns are the result of numerous delays in the project schedule, from an original completion timetable of 2016 for the first reactor and 2017 for the second to the latest estimate of 2022 and 2023.
In their defense, Georgia Power officials have argued they are building the first new nuclear reactors in the United States in 30 years. The project has been beset by the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric, the original prime contractor, and by delays associated with the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the construction workforce.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.