Governor Ignores Reality of Vogtle Cost Increases

Guest Blog | July 17, 2013 | Press Releases

Atlanta, GA (July 17, 2013) – Recent press reports quote Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal blaming those who oppose Southern Company and their utility partners’ attempts to build two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro as responsible for significant scheduling delays and cost increases. Beginning tomorrow, Thursday, July 18, 2013 the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) begins hearings in which Georgia Power witnesses will testify in the eight semi-annual Vogtle nuclear construction project monitoring dockets. Georgia Power has formally requested that the PSC approve a $381 million increase to the certified cost and to approve a revised construction schedule reflecting a possible delay of approximately 18 months.

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, issued this statement in response in advance of the hearing and in response to the Governor’s quotes:

“We urge the Georgia Public Service Commission to ignore Governor Deal’s factually-inaccurate and inflammatory rhetoric and instead pay close attention to the upcoming testimony from Georgia Power’s experts as well as concerned members of the public during tomorrow’s hearings and throughout this crucial Vogtle monitoring docket.

The Vogtle project, as they know all too well, is off-track with serious cost overruns and scheduling delays. Building two more expensive nuclear reactors at Vogtle has always been a high-risk project, subject to many pitfalls along the way. And now, as many predicted, those realities are unfolding and ratepayers are at even greater financial risk. The Commission needs to put the interests of Georgia’s families and small businesses before corporate profits. Given the evidence we’ve seen, we urge them to deny the Company’s request to increase the certified cost. It’s past time for the Company and their shareholders to shoulder this burden not just the ratepayers.”

Background: Georgia Power and it’s utility partners, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG and Dalton Utilities intend to build two new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors and are considered the lead new reactor project in the country and have been offered a conditional $8.3 billion tax-payer financed loan guarantee. Originally, the total project cost was just over $14 billion with Vogtle reactor unit 3 to be online in April 2016 and reactor unit 4 in April 2017. Lawsuits between the Company and project contractors of approximately $900 million in cost increases are still outstanding. Additionally, anti-consumer state legislation, SB31, Georgia’s “nuclear tax,” passed in 2009 allows Georgia Power to charge some customers in advance for financing costs associated with the new reactors, also referred to as “Construction Work in Progress” or “CWIP,” regardless of cost increases, delays or if the project is suspended.

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Founded in 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at