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article imageVogtle power plant gets go-ahead despite budget overages

By Karen Graham     Sep 27, 2018 in Business
Atlanta - The owners of the last nuclear power plant still under construction in the U.S. say the project will continue after they resolved a disagreement about the multi-billion-dollar budget overages.
While all the owners of the project agreed to continue with the multi-billion-dollar effort, there was no proposed cap on further cost overruns or clear limits on how much of the new expenses might appear in customers’ monthly electric bills.
The primary owners, Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, said in a joint statement late Wednesday that they had come to an agreement that "mitigates financial exposure" in the construction of the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Georgia.
According to the agreement, if cost overruns become big enough, it will require lead owner Georgia Power to cover a larger portion of those costs than it otherwise would have. This means if there are $1.6 billion in new expenses, Georgia Power would have to shoulder an additional $80 million above its normal share of the costs.
The agreement also reduces the options for the various partners to pull out of the project, while at the same time, it does create a few options for partners to sell portions of their project rights to Georgia Power. Georgia Power also reserves the right to cancel the project at any time.
“We are all pleased to have reached an agreement and to move forward with the construction of Vogtle Units 3 & 4 which is critical to Georgia’s energy future,” the co-owners stated in a press release. “While there have been and will be challenges throughout this process, we remain committed to a constructive relationship with each other and are focused on reducing project risk and fulfilling our commitment to our member-consumers.”
Alvin Ward Vogtle Nuclear Power PLant.
Alvin Ward Vogtle Nuclear Power PLant.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Basically, what this means is that if any more cost overruns are announced, co-owners on the Vogtle project will no longer be allowed to vote on whether to continue the work. And as readers may remember, Oglethorpe Power — the project’s second-biggest owner — had earlier demanded that a cost cap be placed on the project to mitigate its soaring costs.
This call by a Vogtle owner to enact limits on project costs caused the big fuss between the four owners. Georgia Power, the state’s largest utility, initially blasted that proposal. It and Oglethorpe, which serves membership-based electric utilities in metro Atlanta and elsewhere in the state, traded accusations in a rare public outing of their disagreements.
This caused the negotiations to bleed over into Wednesday before an agreement was reached. But even so, this left some people still worried.
We’re very concerned about today’s announcement because it’s clear the Plant Vogtle nuclear project is in serious trouble if this much arm twisting is necessary to keep all four partners at the table,” Stephen Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said in an emailed statement.
Liz Coyle, the executive director of consumer advocate Georgia Watch, said that after a quick view of the agreement it “appears the owners have decided to plow ahead with a project that holds continued uncertainty and certainly clear risk of major cost increases and very little, if any true protections for Georgia’s electric customers.”
More about Vogtle Power plant, budget overages, Conditions, Federal Government, Georgia
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