Georgia Power's Vogtle nuclear units could hit construction delays
- Oglethorpe Power Co., a partner on the development of two new nuclear units at the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia, has informed federal regulators that both units will likely be delayed six months, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
- The project, majority-owned by Georgia Power, is already billions over budget and years behind schedule.
- The news was disclosed in a Form 8-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission just days before Westinghouse, the nuclear engineering firm overseeing construction, filed for bankruptcy.
Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy this morning, a widely-anticipated move that some believe spells the end for new nuclear generation in the United States. Construction of Vogtle, however, will likely proceed though the delays as cost overruns continue to mount.
The Georgia Public Service Commission last month approved a new round of expenses at the plantt, amounting to $141 million in the first half of 2016. But despite "well publicized setbacks," Commission Chairman Stan Wise, said the project (approved in 2009), was still making progress and was within total authorized capital costs of $3.68 billion.
The two new units were forecast to be inservice in December 2019 and September 2020, but Oglethorpe told the SEC those dates "do not appear to be achievable." The company also said it believes the contractor, Westinghouse, "is responsible for any related costs for not achieving the schedule and performance guarantees."
"The Contractor, Georgia Power and other Co-owners are continuing to review the schedule supporting these revised dates which must ultimately be reconciled with an integrated project schedule," the company said.
Toshiba acquired a majority stake in Westinghouse in 2006, but last month was forced to write down $6 billion related to nuclear construction issues at the Vogtle plant and V.C. Summer in South Carolina.
MIT Technology Review believes a Westinghouse bankruptcy means an end to new nuclear construction in the United States. The company filed this morning, announcing in a statement that it "is seeking to undertake a strategic restructuring as a result of certain financial and construction challenges" at its power plant projects.
The company said it obtained $800 million in debtor-in-possession financing from third-party lenders to help fund and protect its core businesses during its reorganization. And while under Chapter 11 protection, Westinghouse will operate "in the ordinary course of business and has the exclusive right to develop a plan of reorganization."
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Plant Vogtle: More delays likely, says one partner
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