ATLANTA – A second minority utility partner in the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion is mounting an effort to cap its costs to complete the project.

This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

The Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power) has filed a lawsuit against Georgia Power in Fulton County Superior Court asserting its right to trigger a 2018 agreement freezing its capital costs in building two additional nuclear reactors at the plant south of Augusta.

MEAG Power’s action follows a suit filed by Oglethorpe Power, another minority partner in the long-delayed overbudget project.

Oglethorpe owns 30% of the Vogtle expansion project, while MEAG Power’s share is 22.7%. Georgia Power, the largest of four utility partners, holds a 45.7% ownership share. Dalton Utilities has a tiny 1.6% stake.

Under the 2018 agreement entered into by all four partners, when the project costs reach a certain point, the minority partners are allowed to reduce their ownership share in exchange for Georgia Power picking up 100% of the remaining costs to complete the project.

“MEAG Power believes that the construction cost increases and the revised cost estimates for completion have reached the increased GPC (Georgia Power Corp.) cost responsibility threshold and triggered the tender provisions under the Vogtle Units 3&4 ownership arrangements,” MEAG Power wrote in a news release dated Tuesday.

“MEAG Power also believes that the time period for exercising the tender option commenced on June 14, 2022, and continues until Aug. 7, 2022.”

Georgia Power disagrees with MEAG and Oglethorpe over the dollar amount at which the tender provision is triggered, thus the legal dispute.

The Plant Vogtle expansion has encountered multiple delays and cost overruns going back to 2009, when the state Public Service Commission approved the project.

Originally expected to be completed in 2016 and 2017, the first of the two new reactors now is due to go into service by the first quarter of next year. The second unit is to follow by the fourth quarter of 2023.

A key factor in the delays was the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric, originally the prime contractor hired for the project. Pandemic-delayed work slowdowns also played a role.

Originally expected to cost $14 billion, the project’s price tag has more than doubled.

The litigation will not affect the ongoing construction, testing, and completion of the nuclear expansion. According to Georgia Power, the project is 97% complete.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.