PSC Members Rest Eyes, Ban Critical Testimony During Vogtle Hearing (UPDATE 1)

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stan wise(APN) ATLANTA — Georgia Public Service Commissioners struggled to maintain a quorum, and apparently also to stay awake, at Georgia Power’s thirteenth semi-annual Vogtle Construction Monitoring Report (VCM) hearing on December 10, 2015.

 

Two photographs show Commissioner Stan Wise  (District 5) resting his eyes, during one of the many instances in which Atlanta Progressive News observed Wise rest his eyes for a couple minutes or so at a time.

 

One of the photographs also shows Commissioner Doug Everett (District 3) resting his eyes, although Everett began to open one of them back up as the photograph was being taken.

 

For an extended period, only two Commissioners were physically present during the hearing.

 

stan wise 3Meanwhile, when not appearing to nap, the Commissioners wakeful participation consisted of suppressing public testimony by environmental advocates and citizens concerned about the dangers and costs of nuclear power.

 

Georgia Power filed a motion to strike the testimony of Nuclear Watch South (NWS), one of the interveners.  Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald (District 4) upheld the request that it be stricken from the record.

 

NWS’s official written testimony, charts, and exhibits filed on November 20 were removed from the official record, but are available on the organization’s website below:

 

http://www.nonukesyall.org/pdfs/NWS13thCarroll%20Testimony_amend.pdf

 

http://www.nonukesyall.org/pdfs/11-15_GPC%20Key%20Fin%20Stats_amend.pdf

 

http://www.nonukesyall.org/pdfs/NWS_Ex2_29849_GApower_charts.pdf

 

“NWS’s testimony is irrelevant to the question before this Commission to approve or disapprove the expenditure during the 13th VCM period,” Steven Hewitson, a Georgia Power attorney, said.

 

Glenn Carroll, Coordinator of NWS, disagreed, saying that the larger picture is relevant to the question of whether or not the PSC will continue to approve billions of dollars to this unneeded project.

 

“The picture we are showing is damaging to Georgia Power and that is why they want to do away with it,” Carroll said.

 

Barbara Antonoplos noted during the public testimony that hearing documents have many redactions in them.

 

As reported earlier by Atlanta Progressive News, NWS has testified that Georgia Power was overbuilt and that Vogtle 3 and 4 are not needed, according to Southern Company’s annual reports.

 

http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/2015/07/30/georgia-power-mum-on-claim-that-nuclear-expansion-unneeded/

 

Carroll plans to intervene at the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) this summer and present NWS’s documentation again that Vogtle 3 and 4 are not needed.

 

Georgia Power and the PSC think the IRP is a more appropriate venue in which to discuss if the Vogtle project should go forward or be shut down.

 

Meanwhile, the PSC continues to give millions of dollars to a project that is three years behind schedule, two billion dollars over-budget, and where only 26 percent of construction is complete.

 

Public testimony that is normally at the beginning of the hearing had been scheduled for the end of the day when most Georgia Power customers who wanted to testify would be gone.

 

Bobbie Paul, former Executive Director of Georgia Women’s Action for New Direction (WAND), negotiated that public testimony be moved back to the beginning of the agenda.

 

The PSC has become increasingly irritated and hostile to citizens who give evidence in support of shutting down Vogtle 3 and 4, criticizing it as a bottomless money pit that ratepayers are stuck paying for.

 

Ratepayers were told they could only speak two minutes, instead of the usual three minutes.

 

To make it even more restrictive and controlled, they were not allowed to speak on anything that someone else had already spoken on, except to say they agree with the last speaker.

 

With that drama over, public testimony began and almost everyone ignored the restrictions and spoke three minutes.

 

“The budget process is flawed and unreliable with constant revisions… the cost to complete remains constant as the budget keeps increasing because sunk costs (money already spent) are ignored,” Steven Prenovitz, an economist said.   “Georgia Power wants customers to pay for all the mistakes.”

 

Prenovitz went over three minutes and Commissioner McDonald shouted him down and Commissioner Everett wanted to physically remove him from the room.

 

APN learned that after the hearing, Prenovitz was threatened with a fine or jail if he did not obey the rules.

 

Many individuals and organizations objected to NWS testimony being removed from the record.

 

Others objected to paying the Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery (NCCR) or nuclear tax that is almost ten percent of their monthly electric bills.  This anti-consumer bill was passed in 2009 by the General Assembly, and ratepayers have been forced to pay over 1.4 billion dollars to build two more nuclear reactors.

 

Half of the nuclear tax goes to Georgia Power’s profits, and 25 percent covers the tax on their profits.  The last 25 percent is used to pay the costs of financing Vogtle.

 

NWS presented a chart that shows, using Georgia Powers annual report, that the company profits surged over twenty percent since Vogtle construction and the NCCR a/k/a Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) tax started in 2011.

 

http://www.nonukesyall.org/pdfs/Georgia%20Power%20Profits%202004-2014.pdf

 

Still others testified that the PSC was not serving the public interest by wasting money on dangerous, expensive, and unneeded nuclear energy, when that money could be better spent on solar, wind, and other cheaper renewals.

 

“If we don’t need Vogtle 3 and 4 then it is totally relevant to stop spending billions of dollars to continue to build them,” Betsy Rivard said.

 

A powerful testimony came from Bernice Howard who lives in Shell Bluff, downwind and downstream from Vogtle and Savannah River Site.

 

“Our area has been tested, and we have cesium, plutonium, radiation, and other contaminants in our area.  As an American, I feel I should be protected from those things that are damaging to me,” Howard, Field Coordinator, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND), said.

 

Howard testified that elderly people and young children, who have weaker immune systems, are most affected by the pollutants.  People who live in that environment have to drink the water, and eat the plants and animals that are also affected by those contaminants.

 

“I am concerned because Plant Vogtle is being allowed to expand from two to four reactors that is damaging the people.  It is abusing the elderly, the children, the people, it’s inhumane, unfair, and ungodly,” Howard said.

 

“I wake up every morning and my environment has become a threat to me, my family, and the people I love,” Howard said, warning there would be karma to pay for this.

 

Antonoplos cited continuous ineptness and construction problems of poor rebar installation, lack of schedule adherence, late design and design changes, late identification of Quality Control issues, high re-work rate, poor quality structural sub-modules, and rush to assemble the shield building.

 

“The shield building is the last line of defense around all those other sub-standard critical components.  That alarms me,” Antonoplos said.

 

As expected, expert witnesses predicted additional delays and cost overruns.

 

“What was once a $14 billion price tag is now $21 billion and the situation is actually worsening.  How much worse does it have to get before regulators and lawmaker start paying attention?” Sara Barczak, Program Director, High Risk Energy Choices, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said in a press statement.

 

The PSC will probably give their routine approval for an additional 148 million dollars in construction costs on February 18, 2016.

 

(END/2015)

 

UPDATE 1: A previous version of this article stated “Prenovitz created the documentation and charts for NWS that were censored from the record.”  He did not create the documentation, although it was based on his idea, according to Carroll.

7 comments

  • Thanks again APN for investigative reporting on Vogtle and the PSC! It was Prenovitz’ brilliant idea to look for trends in Georgia Power’s own data but he also stresses the need to underscore that the numbers are generated by Georgia Power. Following his inspiration Nuclear Watch South created the charts ilustrating Georgia Power’s sales, capacity utilization and latest analysis of profit trends.

    The “forbidden testimony” and profit chart are now posted on Nuclear Watch South’s website: http://www.nuclearwatchsouth.org

  • Thanks for this brilliant report. The nuclear madness continues. But when we finally stop it, these insane “regulators” will probably sleep right through it all.

  • Why Does a Country Poison its Water ?

    To Extract a Fuel that will Enable its Military March To Global Markets !

    Why Does a Country Poisons It Food With Gut Busting Cancer Causing GMOs, To Harvest Humans ?

    Why Does A Country Raise its Radiation Levels for its People ? Fukushima !

    Why Does a Country Boil Water With Nuclear Elements ? To Provide Fuel For its Military Global Market March !

    We Have To Change The Federal Direction of The United States of America !

    Our Fossil Fuel and Nuclear Corporations are The Richest in The World !

    And They Are Destroying our Life Sustaining, Fragile Eco-Systems !

    It Is Time To Change This Insanity !
    Are We Getting Ready To Nuke the World ?

    “Ice sheets contain enormous quantities of frozen water. If the Greenland Ice Sheet melted, scientists estimate that sea level would rise about 6 meters (20 feet). If the Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, sea level would rise by about 60 meters (200 feet).” National Snow and Ice Data Center.

    There Are Over 400 Nuclear Reactors and All Their Fuel Rods ! At Sea Level Now !

    Relocate All Nuclear Fuel Rods and Contaminated Metals above 3,000 Ft!

    There Is No Carbon, Methane, or Nuclear Budget !

    “There is no carbon budget anymore and 5C is baked in according to both Shell petroleum and the International Energy Authority. ” Kevin Hester

    There is No Carbon, Methane, or Nuclear Budget !

    There are Methane Deposits that Are Now Being Emitted off the Arctic Siberian Coast, Greenland, and The Antarctic, As The Permafrosts Melt and the Oceans Warm, Methane deposits blowing out of the Crust and Ocean Floors !

    Methane is a Bridge to Hell, Ban Fracking Gov. Brown ! and President Obama !

    Globally we emit over 40 Billion Tons of Carbon Dioxide Annually !

    California Emitted 459 Million Toxic Tons of Carbon Dioxide in 2014.

    Gov Browns call to reduce this to 1990 levels so we can continue to emit over 400 million Toxic Tons a year, will not help us stop or slow down Global Warming and Sea Levels Rising.

    2020 Limit – AB 32 is now slightly higher than the 427 MMTCO2e in the initial Scoping Plan.” Ca. Gov. Data

    Ban Fracking !

    Close 100 of the 108 Bottle Watering Facilities in California !

    Golf on Gray Water or Close Golf Course

    Grow For Local and Regional Farming Circle, Federal and State Policies Must Change !

    Atmospheric Parts Per Million of Carbon is Now 404

    In the 1850 Carbon PPM was 260 – 280

    What will the Temp. be at 415 ppm ?

    Arctic 80% melted, Greenland is Keeping North America Cool, For How Long ? Antarctica is Melting as Well, When Will It Melt ? and All the Glaciers used to keep the Mantle Cooler !

    We must transition to 100% Renewable Energy

    Implement a California Residential and Commercial Feed in Tariff.

    California Residential Feed in Tariff would allow homeowners to sell their Renewable Energy to the utility, protecting our communities from, Global Warming, Poison Water, Grid Failures, Natural Disasters, Toxic Natural Gas and Oil Fracking.

    A California Commercial FiT in Los Angeles, Palo Alto, an Sacramento Ca. are operating NOW, paying the Business Person 17 cents cents per kilowatt hour.

    Sign and Share this petition for a California Residential Feed in Tariff.http://signon.org/sign/let-california-home-owners

  • The PSC guys must have shares of stock in Ga. Power. Them pretending sleep during the meeting is the ultimate snub. If 3 & 4 are ever finished,they are going to discourage people from investing heavily in Ga. What with high electric rates, large consumers of electricity like aluminum refiners/steel mills, will locate else where. Where renewable energy is cheap. So go ahead and snub the whole state of Ga. PSC guys.
    Kudos to Glenn Carroll for doing what is best for the whole state, and not just for the stock dividends like the PSC guys seem to be doing.

  • I love you Carroll for what you do, and I am sorry I couldn’t come up this time from Savannah. To anyone else reading this, these activists need more help from citizens who are just as fed up with this. I can tell you, the PSC sees the same faces and hears the same voices over and over. IF they saw many different faces and heard many different voices, it might change things a bit. But I suspect we will never know ……

  • Actually… the PSC guys are helping end the fallacy that atomic energy is: affordable. The nukie cheer leaders used to say cheap electricity. All the reactors world wide are behind and over budget. The Paris talks that just ended have not included nukes as part of our solution for the climate crisis.
    Rightfully so. Nukes just cost too much. Then there is all the deadly waste and irradiated metals to deal with. We should use atomic energy to save the climate so we can litter up the only planet we have to live on… with all the deadly wastes & irradiated metals???

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