Science

Georgia Power Says New Nuclear Timeline Is A Challenge

Construction continues on a new nuclear reactor at Plant Vogtle power plant in Waynesboro, Georgia.
Construction continues on a new nuclear reactor at Plant Vogtle power plant in Waynesboro, Georgia.
Credit John Bazemore, File / Associated Press
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Georgia Power says it doesn’t see why the nuclear reactors that are under construction at Plant Vogtle shouldn’t open on schedule, but does say that schedule is tough.

And that’s an updated schedule, since one of the new units was originally intended to be up-and-running by this year. Now, Georgia Power hopes to finish one of the new reactors by June 2019, and the other by June 2020. The company announced that plan last year.

At a hearing Tuesday at the Public Service Commission, Georgia Power said that new timeline is “a great challenge.”

“I’m not a betting guy. I’m not going to sit here and try and lay odds on this thing,” said David McKinney, vice president of nuclear development at Georgia Power. “What we’re telling you is we think it’s a very challenging schedule. We see nothing from the company’s standpoint, as we evaluate the contractor’s plans and schedules, we see nothing that tells us that they can’t make it.”

Georgia Power is asking the PSC to approve its expenses for the second half of 2015. The company spent $160 million on Plant Vogtle in that period.

The company has said it also wants to explore building a new nuclear power plant in southwest Georgia, and it’s asked the PSC to allow it to charge customers to study that option.

Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald said he won’t approve that. He thinks the company should foot the bill for the study.  

“I am not going to let the ratepayers pay that $175 million,” he said. “Now if they explore, and it’s a good project, and it goes forward, they’re going to get it back anyway.”

The Public Service Commission continues hearings Wednesday on Georgia Power’s long-term energy plans, including for nuclear power.

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