The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) wants to keep two under-construction reactors at the Vogtle nuclear plant alive. According to a offer offering by Commissioner Tim Echols and unanimously upheld by the rest of the PSC, the plant will concede majority-owner Georgia Power to place some of the financial weight of completing the plan on rate payers (that is, application customers).
Vogtle is the only nuclear plant now under construction in the US, and it was the first new nuclear reactor construction to start in 3 decades when it was consecrated in 2006. (Unit 2 of the Watts-Bar appetite plant came online in 2016, but it began construction in 1976. Construction of the a 80% finish reactor was put on hold in the 1980′s.)
With some incentives for execution enclosed in the PSC’s proposal, the reactors are now approaching to come online in 2021 and 2022.
The reactor build-out plan faced termination this year after nuclear developer Westinghouse announced bankruptcy. Vogtle’s reactors have been behind regularly (originally they were ostensible to come online in 2016 and 2017) and are dramatically over budget.
Georgia Power pronounced it would need an additional $8.9 billion to finish the project. But Toshiba, the primogenitor company that owns Westinghouse, recently paid the owners of Vogtle a pledge of $3.68 billion, so the Georgia PSC certified a cost ask of just $7.3 billion. (Use your Toshiba income to financial the rest, was the PSC’s message.) Including financing costs, the sum volume compulsory to bring the plan to execution is approaching to be around $10.5 billion.
That will bring the sum cost to build the two new Vogtle reactors to more than $25 billion. The new reactor construction was certified in 2006.
The Vogtle expansion, which will supplement a third and fourth reactor to two existent reactors, is about 40 percent complete, according to the Florida Times-Union. Its counterpart, the Summer nuclear expansion, also directed to supplement two reactors to an existent two-reactor plant in South Carolina. But that enlargement was only 35 percent finish when Westinghouse announced bankruptcy. Facing some-more than $11.5 billion in additional construction costs to finish, the project’s 45-percent owner, Santee Cooper, pronounced it would walk divided from the project. Summer is not approaching to be completed.
Nukes vs. healthy gas
The Georgia PSC’s opinion to pierce Vogtle forward interestingly seemed to hinge on predictions about the cost of healthy gas in the future. The owners of the plant enlargement argued that construction should continue since the new reactors would turn cost-effective if healthy gas prices rose in the future. The PSC’s inner research suggested that healthy gas prices would not rise, and so the reactor enlargement would not be economical. “Everyone agrees that both analyses count heavily on the foresee of future healthy gas prices, and we all determine we have no clear round on that,” wrote Commissioner Echols in his proposal. “I am not peaceful to trust anyone’s image foresee currently of future gas prices as a basement for abandoning the scarcely $5 billion we have already invested in this 60 to 80-year asset.”
The go-ahead from Georgia’s PSC is not unconditional—it allows the PSC to recur its capitulation if certain nuclear taxation credits are not approved. According to Utility Dive: “The taxation check Congress just upheld does not extend the nuclear PTC, yet Sen. Lisa Murkowski told Utility Dive they could enclosed it in an extenders package next year.”
To safeguard that these reactors stay on deadline, the PSC’s sustenance reduces the return on equity that Vogtle owners can collect every month after Jun 1, 2021 for reactor 3 and Jun 1, 2022 for reactor four.
The offer also certified an additional 5MW of village solar to be sited at Vogtle due to “the need to continue to rise other CO free sources of generation.” Utilities and regulators have come to opposite conclusions about how best to rise carbon-free energy. In August, Duke Energy Florida motionless to cancel plans to build a nuclear plant in western Florida and instead start a 700MW enlargement of solar ability around the company’s service area.
Correction: This essay creatively pronounced that on completion, Vogtle would be the first nuclear ability online in the US in 3 decades. However, the reactors are only the first to start construction in 3 decades. Watts-Bar began construction in the 70′s and came online in 2016.