Costly Nuclear Plant Forcing Investors to Hard Choices

June 21, 2022

The Vogtle Nuclear plant in Georgia is many years behind schedule and billions over budget. Already one big household-name corporation, Westinghouse, has been forced into bankruptcy by the project.
As construction drags on, smaller investors have to look to their own survival.
Above, upbeat puff piece on the plant from a year ago projected, hopefully, that at least one unit would be online by now. Such is not the case.
I wish them luck – we don’t need this investment to come to nothing, but experience, so far, has been harsh.

Washington Post:

One of the owners of a nuclear power plant being expanded in Georgia says it’s shifting overruns to Georgia Power Co. in exchange for giving up a sliver of its ownership.

Oglethorpe Power Corp. which provides power to 38 electric cooperatives, said Saturday that it has exercised a contractual option to freeze its costs for Plant Vogtle at $8.1 billion.

Oglethorpe Power said it would save members at least $400 million. In exchange, Oglethorpe’s ownership share of the two new reactors being built at the plant east of Augusta would fall from 30% to 28%. That would bump Georgia Power’s share of ownership from 45.7% to 47.7%.

Associated Press calculations show the plant will cost at least $30.34 billion.

If costs rise further, Oglethorpe would save more, but give up a larger share of its ownership.

Georgia Power officials have said they don’t expect regulators with the Georgia Public Service Commission to approve customers paying further costs. That means shareholders of Georgia Power’s parent — Atlanta-based Southern Co. — would pay.

Oglethorpe, Georgia Power and Vogtle’s two other owners — the Municipal Electrical Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton — have been arguing over Georgia Power’s obligations to start absorbing more costs.

It was supposed to begin after more than $2.1 billion in overruns had occurred following a 2018 agreement. Oglethorpe says costs have risen by $3.4 billion since then. But Georgia Power has said COVID-19 was an act of God that drove up costs and delayed work, and it shouldn’t have to pay for that slowdown.

Southern Co. has acknowledged it will have to pay at least $440 million more to cover what would have been other owners’ costs, and has said another $460 million is in dispute.


3 Responses to “Costly Nuclear Plant Forcing Investors to Hard Choices”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    But Georgia Power has said COVID-19 was an act of God that drove up costs and delayed work, and it shouldn’t have to pay for that slowdown.

    I’ll grant that COVID made everything more expensive, but that puff piece full of promises was made well into the pandemic.

    • John Oneill Says:

      ‘…we’ve poured more than 700,000 cubic yards of concrete..’
      The base for a 2 megawatt wind turbine uses about 750 cubic yards of concrete, so to match the capacity of Vogtle units 3 and 4, you’d need 2,200/2 x 750 = 825,000 cubic yards – not counting what was needed for the towers. But the average capacity factor for US nuclear plants last year was 93%, while the wind fleet got a 41% c.f. in 2019 for turbines built in the previous four years (35% for the fleet as a whole.) So to match Vogtle’s output you’d have to at least double its use of concrete. To replace Vogtle’s output, without gas backup, you’d also have to build either a lot of power lines, to hopefully bring the juice from windier places, or a hell of a lot of batteries.
      Neither Southern Company in Georgia, nor neighbouring South Carolina Electric and Gas and the Tennessee Valley Authority, have any wind power installed, so it’s very likely that wind in the area would produce less power than the national average.

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