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Fri July 19, 2013
Echols Signals Georgia Power May Have To Absorb Extra Vogtle Costs
Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols has signaled Georgia Power may have to absorb at least some of the cost overruns related to expanding the Plant Vogtle nuclear site near Augusta.
Georgia Power is currently asking the state for permission to charge customers an extra $700 million for the project.
Echols points to a recent deal struck between Georgia Power parent company Southern Company and Mississippi utility regulators. In that case, Southern agreed to absorb $540 million in cost overruns for a new carbon-capturing coal plant still under construction.
“That deal that was struck may be instructive for us here in Georgia," said Echols. "I’d be interested in hearing about how a Georgia version of that might look.”
At Vogtle, supply chain issues and problems with quality control measures have delayed the project at least 18 months.
In response to the Mississippi reference, Georgia Power officials say simply commissioners ultimately decide whether the company or ratepayers absorb new costs.
Meanwhile, in a Bloomberg interview earlier this year, Southern CEO Tom Fanning dismissed connections between the two projects, adding Vogtle's expansion remains a good deal for customers.
“The benefits that we associate with Vogtle well-exceed any of the increased cost,” said Fanning.
Georgia's Public Service Commission is holding hearings on the extra costs over the next two months. A vote is scheduled for October 15.