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Georgia Power May Have To Supply More Information On Financial Risks Of Nuclear Expansion

The two nuclear units being built at Plant Vogtle, near Augusta, are already years behind schedule and billions over budget.
The two nuclear units being built at Plant Vogtle, near Augusta, are already years behind schedule and billions over budget.
Credit Mary Ann Chastain / Associated Press file
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Georgia Power may have to start providing regulators more information on financial risks with its nuclear power expansion. It’s in response to the revelation the project will cost billions of dollars more.

The two nuclear units being built at Plant Vogtle, near Augusta, are already years behind schedule and billions over budget. On its earnings call last week, Southern Company, the parent of Georgia Power, said costs have gone up by another $2.3 billion. That makes the total cost of the new reactors at least $25 billion.

At a Thursday hearing, staff from the state Public Service Commission said they want Georgia Power to supply more information in its Vogtle construction progress reports, an idea supported by some critics of the project, too.

“We’d like to have more information sooner,” said Jill Kysor, an attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “We’re really pushing for more transparency at the commission, so that the public has more information earlier.”

Georgia Power said it would work with PSC staff on it.

“I think you saw the company step up to the plate and said, we approve that, we’ll go along with it, we’ll be a partner with it,” said Bubba McDonald, chairman of the PSC.

Georgia Power is the biggest owner of the nuclear expansion, but not the only one. Its portion of the increased costs is $1.1 billion dollars. Other, mostly Georgia, utilities own the rest. Those other owners will vote in the coming weeks whether to stick with the project.

Georgia Power has been passing financing costs on to its customers on their energy bills, and once the project is up and running, customers will take on capital costs, as well. But the utility said with the latest increase, its investors will take on the majority of the new costs.