Public Service Commission stiffs Georgia Power customers, greenlights Plant Vogtle cost increases

Despite mounting evidence that Plant Vogtle is uneconomic at its current price tag, the Georgia Public Service Commission today rubberstamped continued construction.

Commission staff had recommended the commissioners reject any price above $9 billion, beyond which customers will not benefit. Instead, commissioners approved Georgia Power’s full revised cost estimate, minus money already received from the bankrupt contractor’s parent company, Toshiba. Importantly, customers would benefit from this Toshiba money whether or not the project goes forward. This newly approved price tag is approximately $1.5 billion more than staff’s break-even point.

SELC's Kurt Ebersback testifies against Vogtle cost increases before the Public Service Commission

Worse, the PSC, in a move prodded by Georgia Power, said these additional costs are “reasonable.” That means customers will most likely shoulder the entire burden of risk for this over-budget, off-schedule mega project. Already, Plant Vogtle is five years behind schedule and double the original price tag.

“Most people have to pay for their mistakes, but Georgia Power is still profiting from theirs,” said Senior Attorney Kurt Ebersbach. “There’s something wrong with a system that rewards this kind of failure.”

The PSC’s vote protects Georgia Power’s shareholders instead of customers, even with its timing. The commission wasn’t scheduled to rule on the cost overruns and schedule delays until February but pushed decision-making up by 47 days.

Project delays alone will add billions more to the company’s profit. Putting a dent in shareholders’ returns doesn’t lower the final construction bill that will be handed to customers. Additionally, residential customers will be paying for Vogtle for 10 years before the nuclear units ever produce energy—and will continue to pay higher bills for decades.

During proceedings on the rate case, SELC represented Partnership for Southern Equity and Georgia Interfaith Power & Light in petitioning for decisions that prioritize customers over shareholders.

“Even though customers had no control over Georgia Power’s mistakes, they’re going to be the ones footing the bill,” said Nathaniel Smith, Chief Equity Officer at Partnership for Southern Equity. “These impacts will be especially difficult on the most vulnerable Georgians who are already struggling to put food on the table.”

“This holiday season the Georgia Public Service Commission gave Georgia Power a gift we can’t afford,” said the Rev. Kate McGregor Mosley, Executive Director of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light. “We’re disappointed the Commissioners didn’t consider other more economic alternatives, including solar and energy efficiency projects that provide clean power for less.”

More News

2019 trends making and braking rooftop solar in the South

Solar is booming across the South as more homeowners turn to clean, affordable rooftop solar to meet their energy needs, and as state policy make...

Hikes that have our hearts at Shenandoah Mountain

Rugged trails, sparkling lakes, forest covered mountains, crystal trout streams, rocky cliffs. This is what makes Virginia’s Shenandoah Mountain...

SELC goes Above & Beyond to protect our health and environment

This has been an impressive year of results, even by the Southern Environ­mental Law Center’s historically high standards. Our solar initiative i...

Google permit to triple its freshwater use upsets S.C. neighbors

A request from internet giant Google to siphon up to 1.5 million gallons of water per day from a Berkeley County aquifer that provides drinking w...

Virginia’s already-approved program to cut carbon emissions needs budget restriction lifted

When it comes to addressing climate change caused by carbon emissions in Virginia, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that...

Cut Virginia Carbon

Virginians, we have the power to ensure clean air, protect health, and build a healthy economy in our state.  By signing the petition below, you...

More Stories