Plant Vogtle future considered in PSC hearings

Georgia's Public Service Commission (PSC) began hearings today regarding the future of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

While Georgia Power (the main partner) in the project has said it wants to forge ahead with construction despite the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse earlier this year, the PSC ultimately has the say so.

And critics are hoping to finally get the PSC's attention ."We're concerned this Vogtle project is off the rails and we will hear about the costs that have doubled from the original estimate," said Sara Barczak from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. She reminds everyone the project started in 2010. "I think it's clear Plant Vogtle is already a disaster because it was supposed to e operating by now,"

Barczak says it's still seems likely the reactors will double in price to up to $25 Billion and says Georgia Power customers have already paid about $2 Billion over the past few years for financing costs. "You won't get that money back if these (reactors) are not built I can guarantee you," she said.

But Georgia Power's CEO Paul Bowers told the PSC Monday that rate payers are actually saving tens and tens of millions of dollars by paying now instead of paying financing after the project is completed. He assured the Commission that the project is still possible and that is is vital to the U.S in terms of overall carbon free energy being produced. Bowers indicated that the project promises reliable and low cost energy for the next 60 years.

The hearings continue this week. Barczak urges rate payers with concerns to call the PSC or visit its website to lodge a complaint or to voice their concerns. "If you're a Georgia Power customer, you need to call or contact the Georgia Public Service Commission )or to the PSC and let them know you're concerned about how to pay for this project now and in the future and your children's future and your grandchildren's future."

You can call the PSC at 404-656-4501 or go to its website.  You can find information on the upper left hand side under "Consumer Corneer."

One issue for the PSC will be deciding whether to approve $542 million in expenditures on the Vogtle Construction Project for the six-month period from January through June of this year. (These are the construction costs already incurred for that period of time and the project remains under construction.)

The PSC is also being asked to review two recommendations from Georgia Power. The first is keep the construction going with stipulations that the PSC agree with assumptions laid out by Georgia Power regarding schedule and cost. The company also has offered a second recommendation which would be to cancel the project but with the understanding the company wants to get back some of the money it's already invested in the construction project.

PSC hearings will continue this week through Thursday (in Atlanta). The Commission is not expected to announce a decision until February.

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