Tag Archives: cost

Nuclear an economic boon despite high costs –Tim Echols

Some of the “stuff” that happened before and after GA PSC Tim Echols cheered nuclear Friday.

GA Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols wrote in the Athens Banner-Herald Friday Echols: Nuclear power can be economic boon to Southeast,

Just when we thought nuclear power might be on a comeback, well, stuff happened. Only time will tell if Georgia and South Carolina can “jump-start” a nuclear renaissance. Let’s hope we can, because low-cost base-load energy — the amount of electricity available 24 hours a day — is a key to economic growth.

Stuff like this happened:

NJ 1 GW Solar: GA #22

While Georgia failed to reform its antique Territorial Electric Service Act and toyed with a solar monopoly, New Jersey, far to the north with far less sun, finished installing a gigawatt (1,000 megawatts) of solar power. The rest of the U.S. installed 3.3 MW total, slightly higher than projections of 3.2 MW, but Georgia lagged behind. When will the legislature and the Public Service Commission, and perhaps more importantly, Georgia Power and Southern Company, stop stop wasting our money on that three-legged nuclear regulatory-capture boondoggle at Plant Vogtle and get on with solar in Georgia for jobs, for profit, and for clean air and water?

Pete Danko wrote for Earth Techling and Huffpo 20 March 2013, New Jersey Solar Capacity Hits 1 Gigawatt,

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U.S. installed 3.3 Gigawatts of solar in 2012, on target

Moore’s law continues to drive solar costs down and installations up. According to SEIA, U.S. Market Installs 3,300 Megawatts in 2012; Driven by Record Fourth Quarter,

2012 was a historic year for the U.S. solar industry. There were 3,313 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed throughout the year, which represents 76% growth over 2011’s record deployment totals. The fourth quarter of 2012 was also the largest quarter on record as 1,300 MW came online, driven in part by unprecedented installation levels in the residential and utility markets. SEIA and GTM Research forecast that the market will continue to grow at a steady clip with over 4,200 MW of PV and 940 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) expected to come online in 2013. (All data from SEIA/GTM Research “U.S. Solar Market Insight 2012 Year-In-Review” unless otherwise noted.)

And those new installations are driven by solar PV prices continually falling in Moore’s Law for solar:

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Already: Solar grid parity without subsidies in India and Italy

Solar power is going so well worldwide that Deutsche Bank has just increased its projections for global demand, noting that India and Italy have already in 2013 reached grid parity without subsidies with other sources of energy, and it expects the rest of the world to follow as early as 2014. The big winner is rooftop solar. Is Georgia paying attention?

Becky Beetz wrote for Global PV 26 February 2013, Deutsche Bank: Sustainable solar market expected in 2014,

Buoyed by bullish demand forecasts, and increasing utilization rates and pricing, Deutsche Bank forecasts a solar market transition from subsidized to sustainable in 2014. Italy REC solar photovoltaic plant

The German bank has raised its 2013 global solar demand forecast to 30 GW — representing a 20% year-on-year increase — on the back of suggestions of strong demand in markets including India, the U.S., China (around 7 to 10 GW), the U.K. (around 1 to 2 GW), Germany and Italy (around 2 GW).

Rooftop installations are, in particular, expected to be a main focus, says Deutsche Bank. A trend for projects being planned with either “minimal/no incentives” has also been observed, despite the belief that solar policy outlooks are improving, particularly in the U.S., China and India, and “other emerging markets”.

More analysis by Jeff Spross in ThinkProgress 3 March 2013, Solar Report Stunner: Unsubsidized ‘Grid Parity Has Been Reached In India’, Italy–With More Countries Coming in 2014.

As Renew Economy also points out, this is the third report in the past month

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Levy Co. FL nuke likely not to be built

Cost already sunk Kewaunee, Calvert Cliffs, Crystal River, and are gnawing away at San Onofre: now it looks like new owner Duke is not likely to build Progress Energy's Levy County, Florida reactor. All that plus even in Georgia, even against all-powerful Georgia Power, there's a reaction against the cost of the always-later always-more-expensive new nukes at Plant Vogtle on the Savannah River. A reaction that's getting written up in the Valdosta Daily Times.

In the VDT today from AP, Some leaders souring on nuclear power costs. I'm quoting from the abcNews version because it includes the author's name, Ray Henry, and the original date, 3 March 2013. I added all the links and images.

As the cost of building a new nuclear plant soars, there are signs of buyer's remorse.

The second-guessing from officials in Georgia and Florida is a sign that maybe the nation is not quite ready for a nuclear renaissance. On top of construction costs running much higher than expected, the price of natural gas has plummeted, making it tough for nuclear plants to compete in the energy market.

In Georgia last week, Southern Co. told regulators it needed to raise its construction budget for Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia by $737 million to $6.85 billion. At about the same time, a Georgia lawmaker sought to penalize the company for going over budget, announcing a proposal to cut into Southern Co.'s profits by trimming some of the money its subsidiary Georgia Power makes.

And Southern Company and Georgia Power slipped the Plant Vogtle schedule still more, from 15 to 19 months late.

The legislation has a coalition of tea party, conservative and consumer advocacy groups behind it, but faces a tough sale in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. GOP Rep. Jeff Chapman found just a single co-sponsor, Democratic Rep. Karla Drenner.

That's HB 267: Financing costs; construction of nuclear generating plant. And AP failed to mention Georgia Sierra Club's support for HB 267.

As a regulated monopoly, Georgia Power currently earns about 11 percent in profits when it invests its own money into power projects. Chapman's legislation would reduce those profits if the nuclear project is over budget, as is the current projection.

In Florida, there's a move to completely eliminate Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) such as is being used in Georgia to pre-fund the new Plant Vogtle nukes.

In Florida, lawmakers want to end the practice of utilities collecting fees from customers before any electricity is produced.

Florida only recently got CWIP, but Progress Energy has been quick to profit by it:

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HB 267 Would Limit Georgia Power’s Profits on Vogtle’s Cost Overruns —GA Sierra Club

There’s still time to contact your state legislators about stopping Georgia Power profitting from cost overruns on the new nukes at Plant Vogtle. Georgia Sierra Club spells out why.

Georgia Power’s expansion at Plant Vogtle will bring us power that is dangerous, expensive and unnecessary.

You may remember a controversial bill the Georgia Legislature approved in 2009, SB 31, the Nuclear Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) bill, which forces Georgia Power ratepayers to pay the financing costs during construction, rather than over the life of the plant. Large users of electricity are exempt from the charge, but residential and mom and pop businesses have been paying for two years.

Even after that sweetheart deal, the Public Service Commissioners scrapped their staff proposal to stop the company from profiting on cost overruns for the project after they top $300 million.

The most recent reports from the independent monitor established by the PSC says

that the project is months behind and as of December, $88 million over budget. Georgia Power gets to earn 11.15% return on all expenses approved by the PSC, so the more they have to spend, the more they get to make and the more ratepayers get to pay!

Putting the profit issue aside for the moment, if the Georgia PSC ever decided to disapprove cost overruns, Georgia Power could take a page from the Mississippi Power playbook and just get the Legislature to let them issue bonds to pay for the work.

HB 267 by freshman Rep. Jeff Chapman excludes the collection of any profits on cost overruns beyond the $6.4 billion the Public Service Commission has approved. The bill is co-sponsored by Avondale Estates Democrat Karla Drenner, who is a member of the Utilities Committee, to which the bill was assigned. Passage of this bill would provide an incentive for Georgia Power to keep expenses down at Vogtle, something that SB 31 failed to do.

It isn’t fair for Georgia Power to profit to the tune of over 11% on delays, overruns and mismanagement, so ask your State Representative to support HB 267.


National attention on GA HB 282 against muni broadband: needs GA leg. to vote it down

Another bad idea from ALEC already passed in SC and NC and is now in the GA legislature, getting coverage in several national technical and political blogs: HB 282, which would effectively forbid municipal broadband if any commercial carrier offers 1.5Mbps. It's up for a hearing this week: time to call your state rep.

Timothy B. Lee wrote for ArsTechnica 14 Feb 2013, Bill would ban muni broadband if one home in census tract gets 1.5Mbps: Approach could leave some Georgia residents without a viable broadband option.

Incumbent broadband providers are pushing legislation that would restrict Georgia towns from building municipal broadband networks. Under the proposal, if a single home in a census tract has Internet access at speeds of 1.5Mbps or above, the town would be prohibited from offering broadband service to anyone in that tract.

State-level restrictions on municipal broadband networks are

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Retreat tab?

Local governments here probably don’t want to get into the news for the cost of their upcoming retreats, Lowndes County Commission this month, and Valdosta City Council next month, like Roswell alrady did.

Pat Fox wrote for the AJC 15 Feb 2013, Record shows $4,800 tab for Roswell retreat,

Roswell city officials ran up a tab of at least $4,800 for their three-day work retreat this month at the Reynolds Plantation, 106 miles away in Greensboro.

Financial records from five north Fulton cities show these planning sessions can run the gamut, from a shoestring event for $700 in Sandy Springs to more than $10,000 for Johns Creek.

The Roswell retreat, held Jan. 31-Feb. 2, included nine people — Mayor Jere Wood, six council members, City Administrator Kay Love and a facilitator, who did not charge for his services. All spent two nights at the Reynolds facility near Lake Oconee.

Perhaps stay close to home where hotels aren’t necessary.


HB 267 Financing costs; construction of nuclear generating plant

As promised, a bipartisan bill was filed Thursday to stop Georgia Power from charging for nuclear cost overruns on Plant Vogtle; this could free up some financing for Georgia to move ahead on solar and wind power.

2013-2014 Regular Session – HB 267 Financing costs; construction of nuclear generating plant; change calculation that utility can recover from customers,

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Code Section 46-2-25 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the procedure for changing any rate, charge, classification, or service and the recovery of financing costs, so as to change the calculation used under certain circumstances to determine the costs of financing associated with the construction of a nuclear generating plant that a utility may recover from its customers; to provide for related matters; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

The bill would add this text to Georgia Code:

…provided, however, that in the event the amounts recorded in the utility’s construction work in progress accounts plus the amount of all financing costs accrued on any construction work in progress accounts exceeds the costs approved by the commission in the original certificate of the nuclear generating plant granted under Code Section 46-3A-5, the cost of equity portion of the financing costs shall be calculated using a rate no higher than the utility’s actual cost of debt.

Let’s see what Georgia Power does to fight this one. So far, it’s Continue reading

Bill against Vogtle nuke overruns to be filed Thursday

It’s about time. -jsq

Jeanne Bonner wrote for GPB today Vogtle Cost Overruns Targeted,

A state lawmaker wants to prevent Georgia Power from reaping profits on cost overruns at Plant Vogtle. Rep. Jeff Chapman will file a bill Thursday that would bar the utility from making money on anything other than the certified cost of the nuclear power plant it’s building in eastern Georgia.

Chapman said before writing the bill, he sent a letter to Georgia Power, asking the company to forego the profits.

He said he hasn’t had a response.

Under a 2009 bill, the company can collect in advance the financing costs for the two reactors it’s building near Augusta.

Chapman, a Brunswick Republican, says he supports the project. But

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