Thursday, August 31, 2017

Southern Co. Decides to Press Ahead with Vogtle Expansion

Construction on units 3 and 4 of Plant Vogtle. (Credit: Georgia Power Co.) Click to Enlarge.
Southern Co. and other utilities building the Vogtle nuclear expansion project in Georgia are prepared to finish the reactors but will lay out a set of assurances that must be met in a filing with state utility regulators tomorrow, E&E News has learned.

This means Plant Vogtle will remain the only set of nuclear reactors under construction in the United States, at least for now.

Southern's Georgia Power Co., the main sponsor of the project, must secure regulatory approvals in Georgia.  The utility and the public power co-owners also must have certain financial guarantees to complete the reactors, according to multiple sources familiar with the document.

Vogtle's future has been in flux since its main contractor, Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.  Westinghouse's bankruptcy stemmed from significant cost increases at Vogtle and a separate nuclear project in South Carolina.

Westinghouse's parent, Toshiba Corp., has pledged $3.7 billion in payments to Vogtle regardless of whether the reactors are built.  Toshiba must start making those payments in October to help underwrite the project.

Georgia Power's decision to continue building Vogtle is no surprise, but the electric company does not have the final say in whether Vogtle gets finished.  That is up to the Georgia Public Service Commission.

The PSC filing will trigger a six-month review, which will give the company and commission time to see whether Toshiba makes its first payment, of $300 million, in October.

The other assurances the utilities are seeking are an extension of federal production tax credits beyond 2020 so Vogtle's reactors can receive them and additional money from the Department of Energy.

Read more at Southern Co. Decides to Press Ahead with Vogtle Expansion

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