ATLANTA — Opponents of nuclear power are to blame for much of the cost overruns at Plant Vogtle, according to Gov. Nathan Deal.
Responding to questions from reporters Tuesday, Deal said groups opposed to building two additional reactors at the nuclear-power generating site in Waynesboro have caused it to go nearly $1 billion over its budget so far.
“There’s something a little bit unusual about being able to be the parties that are involved with running up the costs and then on the other hand complain about costs themselves,” he said, without citing specific groups. “That’s part of what’s happening here.”
The governor had been asked how concerned he was about the impact on customers.
Deal said the Public Service Commission, not the governor, has a say over which construction expenses are passed along to customers. The PSC begins hearings Thursday to review the latest batch of expenses.
Deal said he hopes the PSC will keep electricity rates from becoming unaffordable.
The governor, who practiced law before entering politics, said nuclear opponents used lawsuits to drive up expenses. He said it is ironic when people involved in lawsuits “complain about the cost of the litigation they initiated.”
Georgia Power Co. executives, however, cite different reasons for the cost overruns: the longer-than-expected time for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency to grant a construction and operating license and a delay in components fabricated in Louisiana.
Environmental groups were unsuccessful in various attempts in suing to halt construction. One pending lawsuit is between Georgia Power and the construction company over which of them should pay $425 million in costs related to the licensing delay.