Georgia Power Mum on Claim that Nuclear Expansion Unneeded

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psc testimony

Photograph by Glenn Carroll.  With additional reporting by Atlanta Progressive News.

 

(APN) ATLANTA — Nuclear Watch South (NWS) used Georgia Power’s own data to show that Georgia Power’s energy capacity is overbuilt and that Vogtle 3 and 4 are not needed, at a June 23, 2015 Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) hearing.

 

The hearing was for the 12th Vogtle Construction Monitoring (VCM) review for Plant Vogtle nuclear power units 3 and 4.

 

Charts compiled by economist Steven C. Prenovitz using data obtained from Georgia Power annual reports from 2004 to 2014, show capacity utilization has declined from 72 percent to 58 percent and sales are flat for the ten year period.

 

Georgia Power forecasts were 4.1 percent annual growth in capacity, but growth was only 1.09 percent for the six year period 2008 – 2014.

 

http://www.nonukesyall.org/pdfs/GPC%20Capacity%20Utilization%202004-2014.pdf

 

http://www.nonukesyall.org/pdfs/GPC%20Sales%202004-2014.pdf

 

“It would be cheaper to cancel construction on Plant Vogtle 3 and 4 given the fact they are not needed in a changing market.  It is unlikely the cost to cancel the project would exceed the twelve billion dollars left to be spent on the unneeded, outmoded nuclear power plants under construction today,” Glenn Carroll, Director, Nuclear Watch South, testified.

 

Neither Georgia Power or the PSC have provided any financial calculations to compare the cost of continuing the project to cancelling the project.  By not providing a financial comparison are they saying: no matter what the cost, the project is going forward?

 

Just because billions have already been wasted, does not mean billions more need to be wasted.  In other words, having already wasted billions is not a good reason to continue doing so.

 

“Only by knowing these figures can the PSC make an informed decision about the wisdom of its continued investment of Georgia ratepayers’ money in Georgia Power’s nuclear project,” Carroll testified.

 

Georgia Power has requested a waiver from filing rebuttal testimony in the 12th VCM now under review by the PSC.

 

NWS alleged that by asking for the waiver, Georgia Power is basically acknowledging that Vogtle 3 and 4 are not needed.

 

“You [Georgia Power] had an opportunity to rebut what we said and you chose not to.  So we say, you’re building an unnecessary power plant,” Carroll told Atlanta Progressive News.

 

Atlanta Progressive News asked John O’Brien, Senior Communications Specialist with Georgia Power, why they are not filing a rebuttal testimony to NWS’s claim that Georgia Power overcapacity.

 

“Georgia Power did not file rebuttal testimony in the 12th VCM as the company believe it has demonstrated, through the VCM process, that $169 million in expenditures for the project during the reporting period should be verified and approved,” O’Brien states in an email response to APN.

 

“The VCM process continues to work as designed, providing consistent project updates to the Commission and ensuring appropriate oversight of the largest job-producing construction project currently underway in Georgia,”  O’Brien continued.

 

Georgia Power’s attorney, Kevin Greene, sent a letter to Reece McAlister, Executive Secretary, GA PSC, explaining that “Georgia Power Company will not file rebuttal testimony, as is allowed, but not required, by the Procedural and Scheduling Order for the Twelfth Semi-Annual VCM.”

 

The project is only about twenty-five percent finished.  Currently, they are three years behind schedule with two billion dollars in cost overruns.

 

Every day there is a delay, it costs another two million dollars.

 

The purpose of the six month VCM review is to help prevent a recurrence of the legendary delays and cost overruns of Vogtle 1 and 2.  That project led to the largest consumer rate hike in Georgia’s history with 1,200 percent cost overruns and 14 years behind schedule.

 

“Georgia Power is using the VMC in a narrow fashion to submit a short report and focus on getting reimbursed for the previous six months expenses,”  Carroll told APN

 

“We say questioning the need for Vogtle is appropriate and we point to the law, Georgia Code O.C.G.A. section 46-3A-6, empowering the PSC to decertify resources that are no longer needed, ” Carroll told APN.

 

Georgia Power is protected from financial risk, whether it completes, or cancels the project, by having been using public ratepayers’ and taxpayer money.

 

Georgia Power’s assessment of the economic benefit of Vogtle to consumers is based on a sixty year operating investment.

 

However, the oldest currently operating reactor in the U.S, has only operated 45 years.

 

Other old reactors have shut down because to operate beyond forty years is not financially viable, according to NWS testimony

 

With current prices of solar and wind going down, any new market demand in the future can be better met with renewals.

 

They are cheaper and faster to deploy with never any worries about nuclear accidents, leaks, nuclear waste storage issues, or environmental contamination.  Nor with solar and wind power is there the routine tritium release, which can cause birth defects and cancer in populations downwind and downstream.

 

The PSC has the authority to cancel Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors at any time, if the certified capacity is no longer needed.

 

If the PSC does not shut down this endless money pit, they should provide further information to justify the continued construction.

 

“Georgia Power has completely protected itself from risky nuclear construction by investing only the public’s money.  The only protection ratepayers have, comes from the PSC.  The evidence is overwhelming that Vogtle 3 and 4 is not needed,”  Carroll said.

 

In a forthcoming article, Atlanta Progressive News is preparing to take a closer look at the total financial costs of Vogtle 3 and 4.

 

(END/2015)

5 comments

  • Excellent article! Clear and concise. I look forward to the rest of this series. Now, if we could only get this info out more broadly. . . .

    • Georgia Power’s cornerstone financing for Vogtle expansion comes from a 10% tax on our power bills called Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery. The tax was legalized by the Georgia legislature in 2009 which calls it CWIP (Construction Work in Progress). Sign the petition to repeal the CWIP nuclear tax! http://stopcwip.com/petition-2/

  • Time to pull the plug on this over priced and unneeded toiletless mansion!

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  • Of course they were never needed. It’s just another boondoggle of greased palms.

    NOW PLEASE READ THIS. THIS IS IMPORTANT—>

    Is everyone aware that the NRC is thinking of changing the radiation-exposure-model from Linear No Threshold to something called HORMESIS. Hormesis is the idea that low-level radiation is “good for you.”

    If this is allowed, it can mean more radiation for you, your family, your pets, your food…

    The proposal also has recommends that (YOU) can be exposed to as much radiation as a nuclear worker!

    The NRC is requesting comments from the public on this until September 8th.

    Everyone should comment! Comments don’t need to be scientific. Just comment on what you think.

    Comments can be made Anonymously here: (just type in “Anonymous” when it asks for first and last name)

    http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=NRC-2015-0057-0010

    And you can learn more about it here:

    https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/06/23/2015-15441/linear-no-threshold-model-and-standards-for-protection-against-radiation

    And Libbe HaLevy of the Nuclear Hotseat radio show explains it here and on her latest podcast here: http://www.nuclearhotseat.com/2685/

    QUOTE from Libbe’s website:

    “Diane D’Arrigo of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) on the current Petition in front of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to change radiation evaluation standards from current linear no-threshold to the false science of hormesis (no – whore-YOU-sis) which tries to fool people into believing that “radiation is GOOD for you!”

    Comments are needed before September 8 on the NRC website.

    HERE’S HOW YOU DO IT:

    •Go to: Rulemaking.Comments@nrc.gov

    •In the subject line, make certain to include the ID number:
    NRC-2015-0057-0010

    •OR – Go directly to: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NRC-2015-0057-0010

    •CLICK on the “Comment Now” button.

    Then give the NRC a piece of your mind. You don’t have to make it fancy; they count number of responses more than the content. MAKE YOUR VOICES HEARD NOW! ”

    END QUOTE

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