Construction of new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle has already cost Georgia Power customers an average of $100 per year for the last four years. Yet, the project has missed deadlines and soared over budget. Each month, Georgia Power customers pay an extra fee on their bill which is supposed to go toward the project.
Thursday Georgia Power said it will continue construction on two nuclear generators at Plant Vogtle after the Public Service Commission voted to continue funding it with rate payer money.
The PSC modified Georgia Power's request for the funding, reducing the amount rate payers would contribute and adding more oversight on construction costs and scheduling.
The Public Service commission extended the Vogtle project, but reduced the amount paid by Georgia Power customers by $1.7 billion dollars. The order makes Georgia Power shareholders and not customers responsible for cost overruns the PSC deems imprudent. It penalizes Georgia Power if the plant is not producing electricity by June 1, 2021 and it requires Georgia Power to credit customers $75 each next year.
The Vogtle project is already $3 billion over budget and is long past the original construction deadline. Construction of one of the new nuclear reactors is not due to be completed until in November 2021.
The PSC passed the measure unanimously. After the vote, a spokesman for the Sierra Club, Ted Terry, said that the PSC should have pulled the plug on the project entirely.
Commission Chairman Stan Wise said after the vote that the commission acted in the best interest of rate payers who will enjoy an abundance of new, nuclear energy sometime in the next decade.
The Consumer Energy Alliance applauded the decision saying in a statement, "Energy animates every aspect of our lives and modern economy, and an energy mix that's balanced, broad and diverse – one which utilizes every resource it has on hand, safely – is the only way to grow this way of life and enhance grid reliability while lowering household energy costs."
Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams released a statement calling the 6,000 employees at Plant Vogtle "outstanding, despite corporate mismanagement that slowed the project." However, she disagreed with the PSC's decision "to not hold Georgia Power accountable" because it "demonstrates an allegiance to corporate shareholders, not to ratepayers and families."
Abrams called for accountability for corporations to "shoulder the risk of investment, not everyday Georgians."