Vogtle circular firing squad delaying opening

Southern Company and the other owners of Plant Vogtle are blaming the contractors (who are suing them) for further delays in construction. How much money will they waste before they never open?

Kristi E. Swartz wrote for the AJC yesterday, Disputed costs at Vogtle rise,

Georgia Power and a group of municipal and cooperative electric companies are building twin 1,100-megawatt reactors, the first in the United States to win permits in 30 years. The total expected cost of the project is $14 billion, but potential cost overruns at Vogtle, located in Waynesboro in east Georgia, continue to grow, according to the recent Southern Co. regulatory filing.

Delays in getting federal licensing approvals for the new reactor design and then for the entire project have been cited as the chief culprit.

Because of the dispute with contractors over the additional costs, “the owners are evaluating whether maintaining the currently scheduled commercial operation dates of 2016 and 2017 remains in the best interest of their customers,” the filing said. The total amount of the cost overruns could be well over $900 million; Georgia Power owns 45.7 percent of the project, so its share is $425 million, the latest filing said. Originally the overrun was projected at $400 million when the issue was first made public in April.

Up another $25 million since April? How long until it gets into billions of cost overruns? Which will be paid by whom?

At this point, that amount doesn’t affect customers, who are paying down the financing costs of Georgia Power’s $6.1 billion share of the project through a monthly fee on their utility bills.

But the utility warned that “if these costs ultimately are imposed upon the owners, Georgia Power would seek an amendment to the certified cost” of the project. The Georgia Public Service Commission would have to improve [sic: approve] any cost increases and decide whether customers should pay for them.

So maybe we should elect Public Service Commissioners who won’t approve those cost overruns? Maybe even legislators who will repeal that stealth tax in the form of a Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) rate hike on Georgia Power customers for electricity they won’t get for years, if ever?