Jacksonville Utility wants out of Plant Vogtle purchase agreement

Local News

A new twist is developing in the ongoing saga of building two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

Earlier this year, Georgia Power took over the construction of the project after the lead contractor went bankrupt. About two weeks ago, Georgia Power announced that its project costs had increased $1.1 Billion.  (That represents a total of 45.7 percent of the entire project cost as Georgia Power has several other partners who hold smaller shares of the project.)

One of those partners is MEAG (Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia).  Its website lists that MEAG holds a 23 percent ownership in Vogtle Reactors 1 and 2.

In terms of building the new reactors, Vogtle 3 and 4, MEAG lined up partnership agreements back in 2008.  This is basically an agreement to have another utility buy power generated by the new reactors. The agreement also included some operating costs. 

Now that utility, Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) says it wants out and is urging MEAG to vote “no” on any continuation of the new reactors.

In a letter to MEAG CEO James Fuller, JEA Managing Director and CEO wrote that ” a decision to continue (the new reactors) cannot be justified on any rational basis.”

Stephen Smith from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy couldn’t agree more.  His group has argued against the financial viability of the Vogtle project for years now.  He applauded JEA taking a stand. 

“Staying locked on to this sort of sinking ship means you’re going to pull your ratepayers down and so I think JEA is ready to jump ship,” Smith told us.

Smith says “every single time the analysis is done every six months it shows that this thing is falling further and further behind and costing more and more money for ratepayers.” 

The JEA letter listed the total project cost looming toward $27 Billion (again this is for all partners involved.)

The Jacksonville utility also indicated it had hired its own consultant who advised that scuttling the deal with MEAG would save JEA between $345 and $727 million and this was based on figures from 2017.

Smith predicts if JEA would pull out of any purchase agreement that MEAG would need to try to find another purchasing partner and he predicted that could be “tough” at this point.

“The current partners might have to ask themselves a really tough question, i.e. are they are we going to take an even larger share of this train wreck and this financial disaster,” he said.

A request for comment was sent to Georgia Power and MEAG.  Georgia Power responded that it would defer to MEAG.
 

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