Report: Vogtle backers ask Trump to aid nuclear plant expansion
- Supporters of Southern Co.'s imperiled Vogtle nuclear project asked the Trump administration last week to aid its completion, Bloomberg reports, as a deadline looms for the company to decide its fate.
- The backers, reportedly including a Georgia utility regulator, argued for an acceleration or increase in federal loan payments to the plant, the news outlet reported from unnamed sources. Southern also wants Congress to extend federal tax credits for nuclear construction.
- Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power is expected to make a recommendation to regulators at the end of this month on whether to continue development of the Vogtle expansion as part of its regular construction monitoring reports.
Costs are spiraling for all parties involved in the Vogtle nuclear expansion. Earlier this month Southern indicated in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the entire project would likely top $25 billion dollars and could reach $27 billion.
When proposed in 2008, Southern estimated the plant would cost about $14 billion.
Southern owns 45.7% of the Vogtle plant and three municipal utilities — Oglethorpe Power (30%), MEAG Power, (22.7%) and Dalton Utilities (1.6%) — own the remaining shares.
The project's problems stem from issues with reactor design from contractor Westinghouse, which filed for bankruptcy in March. In June, its parent company Toshiba agreed to pay the owners $3.68 billion whether the plant is completed or not.
Last week, however, Oglethorpe told the SEC that it doubts it will receive those payments. The company, in a filing reported by WABE, told regulations that it is worried “about Toshiba's ability to continue as a going concern.”
Whether Southern thinks it will receive the payments will factor into its project cost analysis, set to be filed with regulators by the end of the month. This week, the Georgia Public Service Commission is expected to take up a resolution seeking answers to more than a dozen questions about the project.
In a PSC meeting on the plant last week, Georgia Power officials told regulators that if it recommends completion of the project, it will also need an affirmative decision from state regulators to move forward. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports regulatory lawyers worry that could unravel an earlier settlement to limit costs to customers for the plant.
The Vogtle issues gained new urgency at the end of last month, when South Carolina utilities SCANA and Santee Cooper announced they would abandon construction of two new units at the V.C. Summer plant, also being developed by Westinghouse. The project had seen its expected cost swell from an initial $11.5 billion to more than $25 billion.
SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh later revealed that the Trump White House failed to respond to requests for support of the nuclear project. The South Carolina governor is now reportedly considering the sale of all or part of public utility Santee Cooper to help finance the project.
- Atlanta Business Chronicle Georgia PSC to take up resolution on Plant Vogtle
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