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Owners agree to continue Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion

September 28, 2018

Following days of negotiations, and despite a bloating price tag, the nuclear expansion project at Plant Vogtle lives on.

All four owners this week agreed to continue – with some cost conditions attached – construction of nuclear units 3 and 4, a multi-billion-dollar effort.

“We are all pleased to have reached an agreement and to be moving forward with the construction of Vogtle Units 3 and 4, which is critical to Georgia’s energy future,” co-owners Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities collectively said in a prepared statement. “While there have been and will be challenges throughout this process, we remain committed to a constructive relationship with each other and are focused on reducing project risk and fulfilling our commitment to our customers.”

Under a new agreement, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, the co-owners are responsible for their respective share until costs exceed the latest completion estimate by $800 million.

Georgia Power will be responsible for 55.7 percent of any construction costs that exceed the latest project completion estimate by $800 million to $1.6 billion. The remaining percentage will be handed down to the other co-owners.

Georgia Power will be responsible for 65.7 percent of costs that exceed the latest completion estimate by $1.6 billion to $2.1 billion.

If completion costs exceed the latest estimate by $2.1 billion, each lesser co-owner will be given a one-time chance to shed their stake, and Georgia Power will cover the resultant costs.

“In this event, Georgia Power would have the option of canceling the project in lieu of purchasing a portion of the ownership interest of any other Vogtle owner,” the filing also reads.

If the Vogtle expansion finishes below budget and on schedule, Georgia Power is entitled to 60.7 percent of the cost savings.

Unit 3 is expected to come online November 2021. Unit 4 is expected to come online November 2022. Two other nuclear facilities at Vogtle are, and have been, up and running. Approximately 900 people oversee the existing plant operations.

Oglethorpe Power had previously called for a cost control on the project. So did a contingent of Georgia lawmakers.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday cheered the Vogtle settlement.

“I commend Georgia Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, Dalton Utilities and Oglethorpe Power Corporation for reaching an agreement to ensure that this critical infrastructure and economic development project will continue,” Deal said in a prepared statement. Deal shared the same sentiments on Twitter.

The Vogtle plant is located southeast of Augusta.

Construction of two nuclear units at the V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina was abandoned last summer, which has since proved to be both a controversial whirlwind and a fixation for the state legislature.

On Sept. 20, during a breakfast forum in Aiken, Southern Nuclear communications coordinator Michael McCracken said hundreds more jobs are expected at Vogtle in the future.

“In fact, the last thing I heard … we were expecting to hire another 1,500 craft workers in the next year and a half,” McCracken said at the time. “Another 1,500. Electricians and pipefitters, that’s what they’re saying.”

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