Georgia Power Vogtle franchise fees head to the state Supreme Court
- The Georgia Court of Appeals this month breathed new life into a lawsuit over franchise fees related to the development of two units at Georgia Power's Vogtle nuclear facility, likely sending it to the state's Supreme Court.
- Southeast Energy News reports the utility wants to recover franchise fees its pays through its rates, but a possible class action lawsuit could return up to $150 million to customers.
- In a Nov. 16 ruling, the Appeals Court determined the franchise fee recovery is an issue for the courts to decide, while a Georgia Power spokesman said the utility believes only the Public Service Commission can make that determination.
Franchise fees paid to local jurisdictions may seem like a minor issue, but should the case be certified as a class action it could mean the return of $150 million to customers.
While a lower court sided with the utility, concluding that state regulators have authority over the fees, the Appeals Court order found "petitioners were not obligated to petition the PSC for an interpretation or construction of the language in its orders before bringing this action. For these reasons, the trial court erred in concluding that petitioners failed to exhaust their administrative remedies."
The Georgia Supreme Court would have three months from the date of filing to determine if it will accept the case.
Vogtle units 3 and 4 are years behind schedule, but Georgia Power says commercial operations should begin in 2019 and 2020. Last year, the utility selected Westinghouse to take over as lead contractor, finalizing the new inservice dates.
The Vogtle expansion would be the some of the first new nuclear generation built in the U.S. in three decades. SCANA Corp. also plans to bring on two new units at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant in South Carolina in 2020.
- Southeast Energy News Court revives ratepayer lawsuit over Georgia nuclear plant fees
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