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

Georgia Power confirms coal ash ponds fail to meet federal restrictions

At least ten of Georgia Power’s toxic, unlined coal ash ponds sit dangerously close to the groundwater beneath them, according to the utility’s r...

Tennessee Wilderness Act will protect 20,000 acres of Cherokee National Forest

There was a present for Tennessee in the Farm Bill that recently passed Congress: The Tennessee Wilderness Act was included in the omnibus legisl...

Federal court throws out pipeline’s Forest Service approval

Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a federal approval for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross two national forests and part of th...

Looking ahead to major energy decisions in 2019, Georgians demand Fair Energy Now

High power bills burden many Georgia families, but few know why that is or what they can do about it. To change that, SELC, Georgia Interfaith P...

Op-ed: Why we support the Chemours consent order

Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler and Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette laid out their case for settlement over GenX contamination in a piece publis...

SELC sues to stop seismic blasting in the Atlantic

Southern Environmental Law Center attorneys today joined a coalition of conservation groups in filing a lawsuit to stop the Trump administration...

More Stories