Plant Vogtle Nuclear Expansion

The construction of two new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle—once deemed a prudent path for meeting Georgia's energy needs—has ballooned into the single most expensive capital project in state history.

Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 are the only nuclear units still under construction in the United States. A nearly identical project at the V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina was cancelled due to delays and rising costs. Ongoing problems and delays at both sites were exacerbated when the lead contractor, Westinghouse, declared bankruptcy in March 2017. 

Georgia Power received regulatory approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission to continue the project, even after projections put the final price tag at nearly double the original amount. Originally scheduled for completion in 2016 and 2017, the two units are now at least five years behind schedule.  

The financial implications reach far beyond Georgia Power customers. Most of Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives and municipal electric utilities (and a city utility in Florida and several Alabama electric cooperatives) also have a stake in this project. Vogtle's blown budget will mean higher power bills for millions of Georgians for decades to come.

An Expensive, Unnecessary Project

While this nuclear project may have once made sense for Georgians, Georgia Power’s shareholders are the only ones who stand to benefit from its continuation. Georgia Power has already collected over $2 billion dollars from its customers to “finance” the project, most of which is profit for the utility's shareholders.

Georgia’s energy picture has changed dramatically since the project was approved in 2009. Demand growth projections put forward as justification for the new units have not materialized. Instead, electricity demand has flattened even as Georgia’s economy has grown, largely due to the increasing efficiency of lighting, appliances and other end uses. As a result, the units will saddle customers with extremely expensive surplus capacity. 

Holding Georgia Power Accountable

As the costs of the Vogtle units have soared, SELC is making the case that Georgia Power should not be allowed to shift risk away from its shareholders and make customers—especially individuals and families struggling to stay on top of monthly bills—bear the entire burden of this boondoggle.

Georgia’s reduced energy demands can be met more affordably and responsibly through additional solar investments, for which Georgia is now a national leader, as well as through greater efficiency measures. Not only are these resources far cheaper to deploy, they provide the added benefit of bill savings for utility customers.

The Vogtle project is a painful example of what happens when the utility always gets its way: higher profits for the utility, higher costs for customers, and lost opportunities for lowering carbon emissions and power bills at the same time.

To change that, SELC and partners Georgia Interfaith Power & Light and Partnership for Southern Equity have launched, a platform for Georgians concerned about high energy costs to make their voices heard ahead of key decisions regarding the state’s energy future.