The Georgia Public Service Commission starts of four days of hearings this week on whether or not to proceed with the Vogtle nuclear power project being built by Southern Co. and its partners.
The hearing is being held to update the project’s economics in the wake of the bankruptcy of its main contractor, Westinghouse Electric Co., this spring.
- One of the items on the PSC agenda will be documents that have come to light that show that Southern affiliate Georgia Power signed off on the blueprints for the reactors that were not approved by professional engineers.
Georgia Power, in an August filing with the PSC, recommended continuing construction on the Vogtle project in the wake of the Westinghouse bankruptcy, saying costs could run as high as $25 billion, well over its original $14 billion budget.
That has sparked worries among state stakeholders that ratepayers will shoulder those cost overruns: In October a conservative group called for the repeal of a Georgia law that allows Georgia Power to recoup the costs of the Vogtle project through ratepayer charges.
In addition to costs, Georgia regulators are likely to also weigh the potential fallout from a decision to abandon or proceed with the plant, as witnessed by South Carolina utilities' decision to abandon the V.C. Summer nuclear facility.
Ratepayers filed a lawsuit accusing SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas of mismanaging more than $1 billion in customer funds for the project. And in November, SCANA’s chairman and CEO, Kevin Marsh, was forced to resign.