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Call for scrutiny of Florida electrical utility’s involvement in Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project

Citing ‘potential mismanagement,’ state senator asks for study of JEA’s nuclear power costs By Nate Monroe , 16 Aug 18

Central Florida state Sen. Debbie Mayfield has asked the Legislature’s auditing and accountability office to study JEA’s involvement in a faltering and increasingly expensive nuclear power project, citing it as an “alarming example” of “potential mismanagement” at the city-owned electric, water and sewer utility.

JEA’s involvement in the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project has largely simmered in the background this year as City Hall was embroiled in a contentious debate over whether it should sell the utility to a private operator. But the costs associated with JEA’s share of Vogtle — which could total $4 billion over 20 years — have concerned city and utility officials and credit-rating analysts.

JEA has told the Plant Vogtle co-owners it wants the project canceled, and utility officials are actively searching for ways to get out of the contract it has with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, one of the co-owners

Mayfield, who represents a state Senate district that includes Brevard and Indian River counties about 150 miles south of Jacksonville, wants the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability Office to complete an in-depth study of JEA’s contract with MEAG, and to submit a report to the House and Senate leadership by Feb. 1.

“Citizens from the community have expressed concern over recent events and published reports that suggest serious issues surrounding the spending and operation decisions of the JEA,” Mayfield wrote in a Wednesday letter to the legislative auditors.

…….. JEA signed the Plant Vogtle nuclear power agreement in 2008, when industry analysts considered nuclear power to be on the upswing

…….In recent years, however, the fortunes of nuclear power have nose dived, stemming in large part from the availability and low cost of natural gas.The Plant Vogtle expansion is the only remaining active project of its kind in the nation and has experienced explosive cost overruns and delays in the completion dates.  Zahn said JEA’s decision to invest made sense in 2008 but that the structure of the contract has left JEA in a bad spot, especially as the cost has skyrocketed. ……..

Mayfield said in her letter that JEA initially projected a $140 million burden that over time has grown to $2.5 billion. Zahn pegged the overall cost — both JEA’s share of debt for the construction of the reactors and the cost of buying power for 20 years — at about $4 billion.

August 17, 2018 - Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA

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