Environment

Nuclear Expansion Spending Hearings Begin Wednesday In Atlanta

The CA55 module is placed for Georgia Power’s Vogtle Unit 3. Construction monitoring hearings begin Wednesday on the nuclear expansion at Plant Vogtle.
The CA55 module is placed for Georgia Power’s Vogtle Unit 3. Construction monitoring hearings begin Wednesday on the nuclear expansion at Plant Vogtle.
Credit Georgia Power
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The latest round of hearings on the nuclear expansion at Plant Vogtle, a controversial project in Waynesboro, Georgia, begins Wednesday in Atlanta.

Every six months, Georgia Power gives updates on its progress and makes its case to keep spending money on what is now the only nuclear power construction project in the nation. This time around, the power company is asking the state Public Service Commission to approve nearly $448 million spent last year from July through December.

Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, chairman of the Georgia PSC, said he’s gotten positive reports on progress at the site.

“I’m not saying I’m feeling good because I’ll feel good when it’s complete,” he said.

Georgia Power, which owns about 45 percent of the Vogtle expansion, expects to spend more than $7 billion in capital costs for its part of the project. The total project cost is more than $22 billion – billions of dollars higher than the original budget. It’s about five years behind the initial schedule. Georgia Power says both new nuclear units will be in service by the end of 2022.

Critics of the project have said it’s not actually needed, and they aren’t happy that Georgia Power customers are helping pay for it before it’s done.

“Georgia Power needs to take on more of the financial burden,” said Debbie Dooley, president of the Atlanta Tea Party.

These construction monitoring hearings are the first since the PSC voted unanimously earlier this year to continue construction on Vogtle. The future of the project had been up in the air since the lead contractor, Westinghouse, went bankrupt last year.

This is also the first of this series of hearings with a new commissioner: Tricia Pridemore was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to replace Stan Wise, who stepped down after the February vote to keep construction going.