What do Toshiba’s financial losses mean for completion of Georgia’s Plant Vogtle reactors?

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The Japanese company building the two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia says it’s $6 Billion in the red and that it’s due to the nuclear project in Georgia and another in South Carolina.

Toshiba owns Westinghouse, which is the designer and builder of the AP1000 reactor design. The Plant Vogtle project is now over budget (by about $1 Billion) and three years behind schedule.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) says Toshiba’s financial troubles certainly are not good news. “At some point, Toshiba is going to want to stop the bleeding and stopping the bleeding may mean stopping the project,” says Sara Barczak with SACE,

Stan Wise, the head of the Georgia Public Service Commission told us “there is real uncertainty with the financial well being of Toshiba. If there is good news from Toshiba though it is they have said they will withdraw from future, new construction but they will live up to their commitments and complete Vogtle 3 and 4.”

Wise agreed there are a lot of concerns but says he is assured that Toshiba plans to keep its commitments to the Vogtle project.

Barczak says this is another sign that nuclear energy is overpriced and that projects are complicated and time consuming. “I could not have predicted such a huge debacle so I’m hoping for the best but I think everyone needs to brace for the worst,” she said.

Wise says Toshiba remains their best option to finish the project. “Their technology, their ability to do this work is without question,” he said.

Wise also said existing agreements between Toshiba and Georgia Power (which holds the majority partnership in the project) should push Toshiba to finish. Wise also said even if there would be a default, that there are some financial guarantees written into the contract.

Barczak says fine, but what if the company would go bankrupt? “If they go to bankruptcy, it’s a whole new ballgame because a judge couid order that Toshiba has the ability to renegotiate its contracts,” she told us.

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