Author:Kristi E. Swartz,
E&E News reporter Energywire:
Friday, August 25, 2017
glethorpe Power Co., which owns 30% of the Vogtle nuclear plant, requested $1.6 billion in additional support from the Department of Energy during a quarterly meeting on Thursday, E&E News reports.
The power cooperative has already secured a $3 billion loan guarantee from the DOE to finish the nuclear project, which is years behind schedule and already billions over original cost estimates. The request could potentially reduce the overall price tag of the project, which is now slated to cost as much as $27 billion, well above its original estimate of $14 billion.
The request comes after Georgia Public Service Commission signaled support last week for the project, provided it could be completed economically. The PSC approved $222 million in expenditures for Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power and directed the company to determine if it would continue with the project in its next construction monitoring report.
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Vogtle is the last new nuclear project standing after utilities recently abandoned South Carolina’s VC Summer nuclear plant construction. SCANA and Santee Cooper said Summer’s project costs could reach more than $25 billion, a sizable leap up from the initial price tag of $11.5 billion.
Both Vogtle and VC Summer ran into deeper trouble after construction firm and Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March. In June, parent company Toshiba agreed to pay the Vogtle owners $3.68 billion whether the plant is completed or not.
Yet there appears to be doubt over whether Toshiba will follow through with those payments. To continue the project, Southern is arguing for an acceleration or increase in federal loan payments. The utility is also pushing Congress to extend federal tax credits for nuclear construction.
E&E News reports that a Freedom of Information Act request revealed Southern CEO made roughly six visits to the DOE between February and July. The outlet also reported that an email from Westinghouse obtained by E&E revealed that Southern’s Nuclear Board did not make a decision on whether or not to continue construction on Wednesday as expected.
Georgia Power is expected to file its 17th Vogtle Construction Monitoring report on Aug. 31. The company has said it anticipates paying between $6.7 billion to $7.3 billion for its share of the nuclear project after accounting for Toshiba’s guarantee obligations. Oglethorpe is slated to pay $5 billion, but will need to increase that amount, according to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing.