You would be perfectly within your rights to give us the fishy eye if we said anything other than that nuclear energy plants are very expensive to build. Most power plants suffer this problem, because costs are so front-loaded: plants take time to build, introducing bank interest charges, changes in regulation that incur cost and fixed costs on commodities that refuse to stay fixed. But this can work in two directions – just as costs can go up for uncontrollable reasons so can they come down.
The official price tag for Georgia Power's share of two new reactors at Plant Vogtle is $1.5 billion lower than when the company requested permission to build them, according to testimony Tuesday in front of the Georgia Public Service Commission.
Walter Jones reports in the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle that a lot of information about Vogtle is protected as a trade secret. But still, he could share what was bringing down cost – this time, it’s bank interest.
Projected construction costs dropped, Mr. Burleson said, because the company is avoiding some interest by charging its customers for the reactors before they begin operation.
Customers are paying about $1.30 per month for the reactors; the charge will rise by that amount each year until it tops out at $9.00 per month. When the plants open in six years, the surcharge should stop.
We like that the Georgia PSC is keeping its hand in and having these checkups every six months. This allows everyone to hear that Georgia Power (it’s nuclear energy page is here) is moving the project along – and in the process validating the Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) method of financing a new plant – and, really, such frequent meetings can do no harm.
If CWIP works as intended in Georgia, then implementing it elsewhere becomes easier – and avoids those fishy eyes when we say there are ways to bring down the costs of a nuclear plant.
Those are Vogtle’s towers way off there in the distance.