The two reactors at Georgia’s Plant Vogtle will be delayed about a year and cost $381 million more than originally planned.
Is this disappointing? A bit – I’m eager to see these up and running, but the years, they do speed by, don’t they? 2017 will be here soon enough.
Certainly, though, another year of work means ratepayers are on the hook, right? No, it doesn’t seem so. The truth of another year is that it does not represent a major issue for the ratepayers.
But the company’s analysis continues to show that adding more nuclear energy to Georgia Power’s portfolio would be a better deal for customers by $4 billion over the life of the plant than any other available energy source, said Buzz Miller, Georgia Power’s executive vice president for nuclear development. “We have a very good project for our goals of building it right with quality and compliance ,” he said.
And happily, Georgia Power has some options.
Miller said the additional costs will be offset by federal production tax credits Congress passed in 2005 to incentivize the nuclear industry, potential federal loan guarantees, and less-than-anticipated financing costs due to low interest rates.
These elements count for a lot – Southern Co. (Georgia Power’s parent) accepted the loan guarantee provisionally awhile ago, but has not fully negotiated terms for it with the government. I wouldn’t see this Miller’s statement as hinting at a resolution on the loan guarantee (or not) – he is just laying out the possibilities.
Ann Daiss, Georgia Power vice president and comptroller, said ratepayers also will see savings because scheduling delays mean the utility isn’t spending as much in the project’s early years as originally anticipated.
The end result will be stable costs over many years.
In the meantime, the project is a boon to Georgia.
Approximately 2,300 people are now on site at Vogtle units 3 and 4 near Waynesboro. At peak construction, the project is expected to create 5,000 onsite jobs, making it the largest job-producing project in Georgia. There will be 800 permanent jobs when the facility is operational.
Georgia is pretty forward looking when it comes to providing a stable business market, which means its encourages large infrastructure projects to support new business, but this still surprised me. “Largest job-producing project in Georgia?” That’s really saying something, particularly in the current economic climate.
So, in terms of fretting about another year, meh.
I know this story will pick up some exercises in concern trolling, especially from people who never wanted the reactors in the first place, but it looks to me as though Georgia Power has explained the situation well enough to quell major concerns if not necessarily trolling. Time will tell on that one.
But - if you need something to worry about, look elsewhere. This isn’t it.