PSC Comm’r. Moves for Georgia Power to Stop Collecting Nuclear Tax
(APN) ATLANTA — Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald (District 4) filed a motion to give Georgia Power ratepayers a break by asking the company to suspend collecting the nuclear construction tax, or CWIP.
But it had as much chance as a snowball in hell of being honored by the PSC or Georgia Power. The Commission voted to hold the motion and refer it to the Georgia Attorney General for an opinion, in a four to one vote on June 06, 2017.
“I move that the Commission request that the Company voluntarily agree that as of July 1, 2017, it will stop collecting any financing charges under the Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery (NCCR) tariff,” McDonald’s motion read.
“Effective July 1, 2017, the Company will utilize Allowance for Funds Used During Construction (AFUDC) accounting treatment on the Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) balance of all Unit 3 and 4 capital costs,” the motion stated.
At the Administrative Session on June 06, Commissioner Stan Wise (District 5) made the motion to hold and refer.
In the PSC’s Energy Meeting on June 01, 2017, McDonald advised the other Commissioners that it could save ratepayers 500 million dollars per year during the completion of construction on Vogtle 3 and 4, if they passed this motion at the next Administrative Session on June 06.
Kevin Green, Georgia Power’s legal adviser, was quick to point out the law, SB 31, passed in 2009 by the Georgia General Assembly, which requires ratepayers to pay in advance for the construction of Vogtle 3 and 4 until their completion.
“I want to make it clear Georgia Power will not volunteer to suspend collection of NCCR tariff,” Green said.
“We will not ignore the law and we will not accept a Commission suggestion that we do so as this motion will do,” Green emphatically said.
Commissioner McDonald inquired of Green, “Who will object if you volunteer?”
SB 31 has been the focus of controversy from the left and right of the political spectrum for years, as it is anti-free market and anti-consumer, all while promoting a dangerous nuclear technology.
Most recently, in the Republican Primary for U.S. Congress Georgia District 6, one Republican State Senator was attacked for having supported SB 31 while in the Senate.
Current Georgia Power ratepayers are paying for both past infrastructure projects through the rate base, and future infrastructure projects through CWIP.
CWIP is an advance collection regime that undermines the idea of Georgia Power shareholders taking meaningful risk, and turns the ratemaking process on its head.
Some senior citizens who have been paying CWIP for years are especially upset by this law because some may not live to enjoy any benefits from these plants, when or if they are completed.
“It’s time to look to my grandchildren and let them pay for it because they are the ones that will benefit from it, rather than those parties that are paying for it now,” McDonald said.
With the bankruptcy of Georgia Powers main contraction, Westinghouse, the cost and time schedule for the completion of Units 3 and 4 has been called in question.
The Commissioners were expecting a formal filing by Georgia Power to answer these question by June 03, and were upset to learn in a news story that information may not be forth coming until August or September 2017.
Tom Fanning, CEO of Southern Company, let that information out of the bag to a reporter following the annual Stockholder Meeting at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia.
“Our staff has asked for information like that for quite a period of time and has never received it,” McDonald said referring to the cost and time schedule when Vogtle 3 and 4 would be completed.
“I said we would begin providing that information before June 03 and we are going through that process of getting information to the staff,” Green quickly responded, to the irritated and frustrated Commissioners who have been left out of the loop.
“What Mr. Fanning said was in regard to a filing in August for a decision based upon the understanding that is when all the information with regards to the third party, specifically Bechtel, will be giving us a proposal on how to take over some aspect of this project,” Green explained.
Green’s acknowledgement of Bechtel’s involvement in the project raises concerns with some people because of their history of cost overruns, delays, mismanagement, allegations of fraud, billing the government for lobbying, allegations of using substandard parts, and war profiteering in Iraq, according to numerous news reports.
Commissioner Wise expressed concerns that McDonald’s motion would have a negative impact on the Company, and that Wall Street could downgrade the stock, which would indirectly affect consumers.
For at least the last ten years, the Commission has always supported whatever Georgia Power wants because it’s their belief that what is good for Georgia Power is good for the customer.
It was noted that Fanning pulled the plug on the Stewart County project after wasting 57.5 million dollars of ratepayers money.
Glenn Carroll with Nuclear Watch South suggested to the Commission that they request the Legislature to create a ballot initiative to allow Georgia voters to decide if they want to continue to invest in Vogtle 3 and 4.