Decision On Future Of Controversial Ga. Nuclear Project To Come This Month

The expansion at Georgia’s Plant Vogtle is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. The Public Service Commission will vote Dec. 21 on the future of the nuclear power project.

John Bazemore / Associated Press file

A decision on the future of a troubled nuclear power project in Georgia will come later this month.

The Public Service Commission had planned to decide whether to allow construction to continue at Plant Vogtle in February. Now, they’ll take a vote Dec. 21.

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The expansion at Plant Vogtle is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. Delays and costs have been mounting over the years of construction, but a major problem arose earlier this year when Westinghouse, the lead contractor on the project, went bankrupt.

Both new nuclear reactors were supposed to be up and running by now. Now, they’re projected to be done in 2022, and the cost has doubled, to more than $22 billion.

The Public Service Commission is holding a round of hearings this week on the future of the project. Public Service Commission Chairman Stan Wise kicked them off Monday by proposing the schedule change because of the potential implications of Congress’s tax overhaul.

“Whether our decision leads to the cancellation of this project, or that we agree to the owner’s recommendation to go forward and complete the project with conditions, it is important that we move forward this year, before the end of the year,” Wise said.

In a letter sent last week, Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers told Wise that if the project is canceled, Georgia Power customers would save $150 million if the cancellation happens in 2017, versus 2018.

Typically, under the PSC hearing process, Georgia Power would have the opportunity to rebut testimony being heard this week. In order to speed up the timeline, the utility is waiving its right to rebuttal if the PSC makes what Wise called a “substantive” decision on the project before the end of the year.