Georgia’s Plant Vogtle Unit 3 begins ‘commercial operation’
ATLANTA– Plant Vogtle’s third nuclear unit began “commercial operation” today, more than seven years after the reactor’s original completion date of April 2016.
Commercial operation means Georgia Power can now charge customers a rate hike for some of the money spent on the unit because the reactor meets certain regulatory requirements determined by the Georgia Public Service Commission. The average residential customer can now expect a $5.46 increase in their average monthly bill.
This is the third rate increase for Georgia Power customers this year. And this June, the hottest in recorded history, Georgia Power disconnected power to nearly 20,000 Georgia residents for nonpayment and charged residents more than $1,287,000 in late fees. Georgia Power customers can expect three additional rate hikes between now and 2025 that will cost the average residential customer an additional $24 a month, for a total bill increase of $48 a month compared to bills in 2022.
One of those coming rate hikes is also due to Plant Vogtle. Although the ultimate cost of Vogtle’s delays and budget overruns to customers is still unknown, Georgia’s Public Service Commission will hold public hearings to determine how much of the remaining billions of dollars of cost will be passed down to ratepayers. Those “prudency hearings” are scheduled to begin after fuel is loaded into Vogtle Unit 4. Georgia Power customers have each already paid nearly $100 a year for more than ten years before Vogtle Units 3 and 4 ever produced electricity. The PSC’s director of utility finance, Tom Newsome, recently told the commission, “The cost increases and schedule delays have completely eliminated any benefit [to customers] on a life cycle cost basis.”
“While capital-intensive and expensive projects may benefit Georgia Power’s shareholders who have enjoyed record profits throughout Vogtle’s beleaguered construction, they are not the least-cost option for Georgians who are feeling the sting of repeated bill increases,” said SELC Staff Attorney Bob Sherrier. “For customers who have been paying for this project for well over a decade, we hope that Georgia Power and the Commission will prioritize proven cost-effective solutions like solar and energy efficiency programs that will help Georgians control energy costs and lower their monthly bills.”
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