Georgia taxpayers could be left paying the bill for construction on two new Plant Vogtle nuclear reactors. Taxpayers have already been paying for the reactors due to Georgia’s Nuclear Energy Financing Act, which allows Georgia Power to charge customers for the construction of anything nuclear. However, Georgia Power, which owns Plant Vogtle, has received a lot of criticism over the construction lagging way behind schedule and being grossly over budget.
One of the new reactors was supposed to be up and running by April 1, 2016, but still hasn’t been completed. The construction is so far behind that the reactors will not be finished until 2020 or 2021. The reactors are also over budget by 56 percent. So why such disregard for timing and budget?
One reason was a lawsuit against the contractor that ended with Georgia Power having to settle out of court. Another reason is that because the reactors utilize the latest in nuclear power technology, Georgia Power claims that some of the costs were inevitable and reasonable. The “reasonable” claim is an attempt push the growing cost on to their customers, and now all eyes are on the Georgia Public Service Commission to decide who should pay. If the GPSC deems these delays and overages “reasonable,” customers will be stuck paying the bill on top of what they already pay.
To make matters worse, this not the first time Georgia Power or Plant Vogtle has used Georgia taxpayer money to fund their half-thought out projects. In the 198os, they built two out four reactors promised and went extremely over budget, passing billions of extra dollars onto customers. They also have a clever PR team promoting these reactors as the way of the future, a must-have to improve citizens’ lives and save money in the long run. Thus far, Georgians have yet to receive the benefits of either promise.
So who is on the consumers’ side? One person who is not is Governor Deal. The governor is actually making it easier for Georgia Power to dump the cost on costumers by giving statements that support the energy company. The consumers are left to fend for themselves while being taken advantage of by local government and big business. In their mind, there is always going to be a stream of steady cash to “fix” and pay for incompetence. Georgia consumers have to make their voice heard before they end up having to endure this for a third time.