Not one more cent! Georgia Power customers irate over Vogtle nuclear mess

This blog was written by Sara Barczak, former Regional Advocacy Director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | May 16, 2017 | Energy Policy, Nuclear

Last Thursday the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) held the first hearing in the 16th semi-annual Vogtle Construction Monitoring (VCM) review, so that Georgia Power could ask for approval for $222 million in expenditures spent during the July 1 to December 31, 2016 period for their two delayed, over budget Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors under construction at Plant Vogtle. While Georgia Power witnesses did testify, they were preceded by a host of irate Georgia Power customers who are fed up because they have been paying in advance for this project whose construction is just 42 percent complete more than 8 years into construction — even as Company executives are receiving pay increases and bonuses! The angry speakers also pointed out that this is all further complicated by Westinghouse’s March bankruptcy filing and financial turmoil that its parent company, Toshiba, finds itself in stemming directly from massive financial losses due to the severely bungled nuclear construction projects in both Georgia and South Carolina.

Below is the full testimony from one such speaker, Robert Searfoss, who was cut-off just shy of his full statement due to a three-minute time restriction imposed by Chairman Wise. You can hear the full hearing here (divided into 3 parts; Mr. Searfoss is in part 1 @ ~11:55). I conducted the cross-examination on behalf of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and will report on other aspects of the hearing in separate blog posts. If you’re a frustrated ratepayer in Georgia or South Carolina, please sign this petition.

Public testimony by Robert Searfoss to the Georgia PSC on May 11, 2017

I am an elderly customer caught in the Vogtle Vortex.

Elderly customers are still forced to pay for a not needed Titanic of a power plant.

While it won’t sink in the Atlantic, it is going down. It is sinking in a financial vortex.

In 4 months I’ll be 72 and have already had enough of my money taken to support a profitable power company’s new plant.

My money taken every month while the company paid its C.E.O Mr. Fanning over $52,000.00 a workday last year.

Over $14 million dollars last year.

 Over $14 million dollars.

While the company took money from elderly people. 

Elderly and everyday people who the company knew as the cost overruns piled up and the years went by…the company knew that those people would never benefit one cent from it.

If the Georgia legislature…If Governor Perdue, and if the Commissioners knew back then what most know now this would not have been set up with money being taken up front from ratepayers. 

No one can now deny that this is a very big disaster. A many layered mess… There is no happy face to put on.

To keep taking money from the elderly, from residential folks, from anyone but company stockholders and investors is simply wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. It needs to stop.

The commission needs to deny any more Vogtle additions to the rate base.

The Alice in Wonderland loading up of the base must stop and now.

The company must be licking its chops over every dollar allowed in the base as it helps insure their already outsized steady profits no matter what.

They’d like you to double down on Vogtle if it gets into the rate base.

Any smart high school student would see in the numbers that the best way forward now is to stop deepening this mess. To cut losses now. Stop any good money after bad.

Westinghouse wants out.

Toshiba wants out.

I imagine the Georgia Public Service Commissioners want out.

Probably in private Mr. Fanning and his executives want out, and, if they had to use their own money –in a hurry.

And certainly, rate payers want out.

[At this point the Commission Chairman stopped the testimony because the “3 minutes” were up.]

[Remaining prepared but not given testimony:]

So, now to conclude, I recommend a forthright and accountable way out of this vortex.

Here is suggested language for The Commission:

Oh Oh…! This is not working. It looked good a few years back but things have changed.

The numbers Don’t work anymore and they are not getting better.

It is not prudent to continue the original plan. This needs to stop. 

All parties take some of the hit.

We aim to cut everyone’s losses fairly and move forward.

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