- The Georgia Public Service Commission yesterday gave a vote of confidence to continuing work on the Vogtle nuclear expansion, provided the project can be completed economically. That may be a high hurdle, however: the final budget could reach $27 billion — almost twice the initial estimate.
- In one agenda item, the PSC approved $222 million in expenditures for Georgia Power. Total capital costs of the project are $3.68 billion as of Dec. 31, 2016, within the commission's certified cost.
- In a second item, regulators approved a a motion by Chairman Stan Wise that directed Georgia Power to determine in its next construction monitoring report if it intends to continue the project and what would be the costs and deadlines.
It remains to be seen if two new units can be economically completed at the Vogtle plant, but Georgia regulators have indicated they believe construction should move ahead if it is possible.
“This vote today sends a message to the company, the company’s partners, ratepayers, and Wall Street that the
Commission continues to be supportive of this project provided it can be done economically," Wise said in a statement.
The PSC's order requires Georgia Power to address more than a dozen issues, including the schedule, costs and whether the commission should approve more revisions. Georgia Power is expected to file its 17th Vogtle Construction Monitoring report on Aug. 31.
While the project was already years behind schedule and over budget, development of the two new units was thrown into further chaos when Westinghouse, the main contractor on the project, went bankrupt earlier this year. That development also threw into doubt a similar project in South Carolina, which utilities later abandoned.
Georgia Power, owned by Southern Co., has said it anticipates paying between $9.8 billion and $10.9 billion for its share of the Vogtle plant, taking into account guarantee obligations from Westinghouse parent Toshiba. In June, the company agreed to pay the owners $3.68 billion whether the plant is completed or not.
If construction goes ahead, Southern has said it expects to finish Unit 3 of Vogtle between Feb. 2021 and March 2022. Unit 4 would be finished between Feb. 2022 and March 2023.