Groups Intervene in Vogtle Cost Proceedings
Atlanta, GA—In today’s opening hearing in Georgia Power Company’s 17th Semi-Annual Vogtle Construction Monitoring Report proceeding, several Georgia groups are urging the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) to reject the utility’s request for approval of its revised cost and schedule for building two new nuclear units.
Georgia Power is asking the PSC to approve as “reasonable,” a price tag that is nearly double what was originally projected. The project is now five years behind schedule and more than $6 billion over budget. Georgia Power has threatened to cancel the project if the Commission does not give its blessing to the new costs and schedule.
The Southern Environmental Law Center has intervened in the proceeding on behalf of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light and the Partnership for Southern Equity, and today filed a petition for declaratory ruling, making the case that approving the project under the current circumstances would force customers to pick up the tab for the increased costs. Under Georgia law and past orders of the Commission, Georgia Power must bear the risk that it may be unable to recover its cost overruns, if and when the units are ever complete.
“Georgia Power customers, especially individuals and families struggling to stay on top of their monthly bills, should not be forced to bear this enormous financial burden for decades to come,” said Nathaniel Smith, Chief Equity Officer at Partnership for Southern Equity. “After years of paying for units that have yet to—and may never—deliver a kilowatt-hour of electricity, Georgia consumers need the bill relief that solar and energy savings programs have been shown to deliver.”
Georgia Power has already collected $2 billion dollars from its customers to “finance” these projects but over half of those funds are actually profits for the monopoly utility. Now, Georgia Power wants to stick 2.5 million customers across the state with the additional costs to keep the project alive.
The groups advocate that replacing the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion with new investments in solar power and energy efficiency would be less risky, more affordable, and more than up to the job of powering Georgia’s economy.
“We are concerned about the moral implications of throwing billions more of Georgians’ hard earned dollars on this wasteful project, which will raise electric bills for years to come and dampen our state’s potential for economic growth,” said Rev. Kate McGregor Mosley, Executive Director of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light. “Greater investments in energy efficiency can directly benefit our low-income citizens, for whom utility bills can constitute a substantial and overwhelming share of monthly income.”
Georgia Power wants its customers, rather than its shareholders, to pay for all of its cost overruns. The groups are asking the PSC to force Georgia Power and its shareholders to shoulder the burden resulting from its ballooning budget.
“If Georgia Power wants to continue down this risky path, it should not be allowed to shift risk away from its shareholders and make customers bear the entire burden of this boondoggle,” said Kurt Ebersbach, Senior Attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “The prudent way forward is to cancel, or at least pause, this risky project—and to invest in energy saving programs and local solar power that will lower bills for Georgians.”
About Southern Environmental Law Center:
The Southern Environmental Law Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With nine offices across the region (Charlottesville, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Richmond, VA), SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org
About Partnership for Southern Equity:
Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) advances policies and institutional actions that promote racial equity and shared prosperity for all in the growth of metropolitan Atlanta and the American South. Through forums, research, and organizing efforts, PSE brings together the regional community to lift up and encourage just, sustainable, and civic practices for balanced growth and opportunity. www.psequity.org
About Georgia Interfaith Power & Light:
Georgia Interfaith Power & Light is a state-wide interfaith ministry that in response to climate change and environmental injustice engages communities of faith in stewardship of Creation through worship, education, and the sustainable generation and efficient use of energy. GIPL’s goal is to help people of faith recognize and fulfill their responsibility for the stewardship of creation. www.gipl.org