Georgia Power could raise rates to cover Vogtle construction costs

022118 Vogtle Nuclear Plant Fines photo
This June 13, 2014 photo, shows construction on a new nuclear reactor at Plant Vogtle power plant in Waynesboro, Ga. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday says Southern Nuclear Co. staff signed off on inspections of equipment and conditions at Plant Vogtle in Georgia that never happened. Southern committed the violations from August to October 2016. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File) John Bazemore

Georgia Power could raise rates to cover Vogtle construction costs

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(The Center Square) — Georgia Power and the state’s Public Service Commission’s Public Interest Advocacy staff have agreed to cap how much ratepayers will pay for Plant Vogtle construction costs.

The deal caps the recovery costs for Plant Vogtle’s Units 3 and 4 — the “first newly constructed nuclear units” built in the country in more than three decades — at more than $7.5 billion. According to Georgia Power, “average retail rates” would increase by roughly 5%, and “a typical resident customer using 1,000 kWh per month” could see their monthly bill increase by $8.95.

PSC commissioners must approve the deal, and officials expect to release a schedule of hearings shortly.

Georgia Power expects its share of the total project to cost roughly $10.2 billion, higher than the nearly $7.3 billion estimate the PSC previously deemed “reasonable.” According to the PSC, the agreement adds $200 million for “unanticipated” costs stemming from COVID-19, $36 million for ad valorem taxes and $33 million to cover costs for construction monitoring.

According to Georgia Power, Unit 3 entered commercial operation on July 31, while loading fuel into the Unit 4 reactor began on Aug. 17. Unit 4 could enter service by either the end of the year or early next year.

“With the semiannual Vogtle Construction Monitoring reports and the countless hours of analysis on this project, I assume there has been more evidence presented in this docket than in any docket in PSC history,” Chairman Jason Shaw said in an announcement. “The culmination of construction on this historic project marks the expansion of clean energy production for another 60 to 80 years here in Georgia.”

Georgia Power owns nearly half (45.7%) of Plant Vogtle. Oglethorpe Power Corporation, which serves 38 electric membership corporations across Georgia, owns 30%, while the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia owns 22.7%, and Dalton Utilities owns 1.6%.

The PSC only has regulatory authority over Georgia Power.

Southern Company, Georgia Power’s parent company, says the plant is crucial to its plan to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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