Groups Challenge Ruling Dismissing Appeal of Flawed Plant Vogtle Decision
ATLANTA, GA—Georgia groups are challenging a ruling from the Fulton County Superior Court late last month, which dismissed their appeal of the Public Service Commission’s decision approving forecast cost increases at Plant Vogtle, where the price tag to build two new nuclear units has nearly doubled to roughly $26 billion. Attorneys representing the three groups filed a notice of appeal today.
“The Court dismissed the appeal on technical grounds without addressing its substance,” said Kurt Ebersbach of the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), who is representing Partnership for Southern Equity and Georgia Interfaith Power and Light.
Georgia Watch is represented by Roy Barnes and John Salter of the Barnes Law Group, LLC.
“The Commission effectively gave Georgia Power a blank check by approving project continuation without the cost cap recommended by their own staff,” Salter said. “The utility’s customers are saddled not only with the higher construction costs, but up to $5 billion in increased profit for Georgia Power’s shareholders.”
Issued on December 21, 2018—exactly one year after the PSC approved continuation of the Vogtle nuclear expansion—the Court’s decision found that dissatisfied customers cannot raise concerns about the unfairness of that process until 2022 or later, after the project is complete.
“While Georgia Power continues to profit from failing to complete the project on time and on budget, the stakes only get higher for customers who are on the hook for those mistakes—there is something fundamentally wrong with that equation,” said Nathaniel Smith, Chief Equity Officer at Partnership for Southern Equity. “As families across the state are feeling this burden through their wallets, we need sound energy decision-making to create accountability and allow for a more transparent, inclusive process where Georgians can make their concerns heard.”
“The people of Georgia have been pre-paying for this mismanaged project since 2011, while the price tag has ballooned and the project timeline has slipped again and again,” said Liz Coyle, Executive Director of Georgia Watch. “Unless the Court reverses the Commission’s decision, Georgia Power customers remain exposed to significant financial risk with seemingly no end in sight.”
“In light of the project’s soaring costs and unreliable timeframe, Georgians are right to be concerned about the moral implications of bearing all of the financial burden and none of the benefits of this faltering project,” said Kate McGregor Mosley, Executive Director of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light. “Our families, communities, and faith congregations deserve to have a say in major energy decisions, especially in advocating for cleaner, cheaper alternatives that would help those struggling with high monthly bills.”
Despite Georgia Power’s repeated assurances that the project will stay on schedule, the PSC’s own staff has consistently expressed concerns about the likelihood of timely completion even under the currently approved 5-year scheduling delay. Just last month, staff filed a report with strong recommendations for additional consulting expertise to oversee the Vogtle expansion to keep the project on track and prevent more billion-dollar budget busting surprises.
About Southern Environmental Law Center: For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org