Environment, Science

Regulator Wants Ga. Power To Scrap Vogtle Fee On Power Bills

Georgia Power is building two new nuclear power units at Plant Vogtle, in Waynesboro.
Georgia Power is building two new nuclear power units at Plant Vogtle, in Waynesboro.
Credit David Goldman / associated press file
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A state utility regulator wants to ask Georgia Power to stop charging customers for its nuclear power plant expansion. It’s an idea that probably won’t go far, but comes as Georgia Power considers the future of the project.

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Westinghouse, the lead contractor building Plant Vogtle, declared bankruptcy earlier this year. Georgia Power is now looking at what it will cost to complete the two new nuclear units, and at other options, such as finishing one unit and not the other, or converting to natural gas. The project was already years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget before the Westinghouse bankruptcy.

There’s a line item on bills for Georgia Power customers for the Plant Vogtle expansion. “Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery” covers Georgia Power’s financing costs for building the two new nuclear power units at Plant Vogtle. The Georgia legislature approved that charge in 2009.

“The circumstances of approving something like that have changed. And so I suggest we change the circumstances, and stop collecting,” said Georgia Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald.

He plans to introduce a motion on Tuesday asking Georgia Power to volunteer to stop charging customers for Plant Vogtle.

The Public Service Commission doesn’t have the power to make Georgia Power get rid of the charge. And a lawyer for Georgia Power told commissioners that the company would not go along with the motion if it passed, saying the decision is up to the state legislature.

Even if it did happen, Georgia Power customers would still take on the costs; it would just be later, once the new nuclear units are up and running.