Votes on whether to keep building Vogtle project expected soon

Local News

It’s a new full-court press from a Jacksonville utility company that wants out of a promise to buy electricity generated by the two new nuclear reactors currently being built at Plant Vogtle.

Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) has written a second letter in a month’s time to MEAG (Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia) saying a contract the companies entered into in 2008 should no longer be valid.

Ten years ago, JEA agreed to buy power from MEAG that would come from the new Vogtle reactors.

But in a letter dated September 18, JEA wrote that it has now found a company to sell it electricity at a much cheaper cost.

JEA wrote that it and MEAG could save $2.5 billion by not using Vogtle electricity. JEA is urging MEAG’s board of directors to “vote no” on continuing the Vogtle reactor projects.

“We’re not surprised that JEA or anyone else is finding a cheaper way to have the power that Vogtle would have generated given the fact that the Vogtle reactors have doubled in cost, construction is only 50 percent complete and the reactors may not be online until the end of 2022,” said Sara Barczak from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “The writing is on the wall and JEA is waving the red flag.”

MEAG owns 23 percent of the Vogtle project. Oglethorpe Power owns 30 percent and Georgia Power holds the largest share at a little over 45 percent. 

Recently, Georgia Power announced that costs for the project had increased another $2 billion. That announcement on a new cost estimate triggered a provision in the newest partner agreement that says if the projected costs go up — all partners must vote to keep going with the construction.

MEAG’s vote may be taken as early as Thursday or by next Monday. Barczak says the pressure from JEA may certainly be affecting MEAG and perhaps even other partners. She says at this point the agreement is one for all and all for one. 

“So if any of the partners opt out of the Vogtle project and basically decide they don’t want to go forward then the project will likely collapse like what happened recently with the VC Summer Project in South Carolina and the economics aren’t any better on the Georgia side,” said Barczak.

JEA estimated in its letter that the cost of Vogtle at $30 billion. Wednesday, at least one billboard could be seen on a Georgia roadway advocating against Plant Vogtle.

There was a website listed on the billboard Noplantvogtle.com and when we viewed that site it was unclear who sponsored the webpage. However, JEA’s cost estimate of $30 billion was listed.

Meanwhile, MEAG is suing JEA for potential breach of contract regarding the expected purchase of Vogtle electricity.  Arguments listed in the legal action included the fact that “JEA was already taking action to undermine and disrupt MEAG’s internal power process.”

MEAG also said it was relying on JEA to fulfill its purchase contract agreement and said if JEA had not agreed a decade ago to buy the Vogtle power – that it would not have agreed to a 23 percent share and “would have taken a smaller share.” 

JEA in a counter move to the lawsuit says it is filing a petition with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to ask that agency to disallow the purchase agreement.

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