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USA’s nuclear boondoggle Plant Vogtle costing $25 billion-plus – still gets regulators’ go ahead !

 Troubled $25 Billion Nuclear Project Gets OK to Continue  US News, By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr., Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) 21 Dec 17 — Georgia‘s utility regulators are allowing construction to continue on two new nuclear reactors, despite massive cost overruns for the multibillion-dollar project.

Thursday’s unanimous decision by the state’s Public Service Commission will shape the future of the nation’s nuclear industry, partly because the reactors at Plant Vogtle were the first new ones to be licensed and to begin construction in the U.S. since 1978.

The project, co-owned by Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities, has been plagued by delays and spiraling costs, compounded when the main contractor filed for bankruptcy. Westinghouse Electric Co., the U.S. nuclear unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp., filed for bankruptcy in March.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal praised the PSC’s decision……

The Sierra Club, meanwhile, slammed the vote, calling the project a disaster. Ted Terry, director of the group’s Georgia chapter, said the project should have been halted……

 

Officials say the PSC vote means Georgia consumers will pay more for power, starting in 2021……

David Schlissel, a utility consultant and analyst who has previously testified against Vogtle, criticized Thursday’s vote, saying regulators were letting Georgia Power and its parent, the Southern Company, off the hook.

“The commission’s own monitors have identified that Southern mismanaged the project,” he said. “Now the commission is giving them unanimous approval to spend even more money.”

He added, “In Georgia, you apparently have commissioners who are fine having ratepayers shovel money into a bottomless pit.”…….

 

By May 2015, regulators said there was a “high probability” that construction would be delayed even longer than the three years already announced by the owners, according to an analysis obtained by The Associated Press. Estimates from regulators at that time put the utility company’s costs at $8.2 billion.

The rising construction costs hit an industry already under financial pressure, after 2011 a tsunami in Japan triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Meanwhile, the price of natural gas dropped, lessening the incentive to build new nuclear power.

In South Carolina, Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. abandoned the construction of a similar nuclear project in July, blaming the decision primarily on the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse.

Under state law, Georgia Power’s customers will ultimately reimburse the state-regulated monopoly for the flagship plant as they pay their monthly electricity bills. That law allows Georgia Power to charge its customers now for the interest it pays on the borrowed money needed for the project. Under an older law, the utility had to wait until the plant was operating to collect those interest charges from its customers, a practice that meant the interest owed grew during the construction period.

Cost overruns were also an issue with the original reactors at Vogtle. The cost of building the existing reactors at the site jumped from $660 million to nearly $9 billion by the time they started producing power in the late 1980s.

Associated Press video journalist Robert Ray in Atlanta and reporter Jeff Amy in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this story.  https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2017-12-21/georgia-board-to-decide-fate-of-25-billion-nuclear-plant

 

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December 22, 2017 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA

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