The four owners of the new additions to the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia agreed on Thursday that construction on the two additional reactors can go forward. The agreement was made despite growing opposition among some local lawmakers and at least one community-owned utility.
The decision throws yet another lifeline to the US’ weak nuclear industry.
Vogtle has experienced the same dramatic cost overruns as Summer, but it survived due to political will from Georgia Public Service Commission, as well as the fact that the reactor build-out was slightly further along in its construction than Summer.
This latest agreement sets no additional caps on costs, but Vogtle’s majority owner, Southern Power Company, could be responsible for a larger share of any additional cost overruns, according to the .
Oglethorpe Power, a 30-percent owner of Vogtle’s reactor additions, was reportedly reluctant to vote in favor of continuing the project without some cap on costs, according to E&E News. Early this year, the bid for the Vogtle expansion was supposed to come to $25 billion, but this summer majority-owner Southern revealed that the project would actually get $2.7 billion over that.
According to the 8-K (PDF) filed by Southern Company with the US Securities Exchange Commission last night, the four owners of the Vogtle project are responsible for costs according to their ownership share until the project runs $800 million over its current construction budget. Then, Southern Company will assume a greater and greater share of the costs on a sliding scale as the project runs more over budget.
If the project runs another $2.1 billion over budget, each of the other partners would have the option of selling their share to Southern. “In this event, Georgia Power would have the option of cancelling the project in lieu of purchasing a portion of the ownership interest of any other Vogtle Owner,” the 8-K states (Georgia Power is a subsidiary of Southern, and its customers would bear the cost of any additional rate increases as a result of the project).