Plant Vogtle owners sue contractors over disputed backfill charges

Georgia Power, others seek nearly $30 million refund

Georgia Power Co. and other Plant Vogtle owners filed a lawsuit this week seeking a refund of more than $29.5 million from the contractor consortium building the site’s two new nuclear reactors.


In a breach of contract complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Augusta, the plaintiffs contend contractors Westinghouse Electric and Stone & Webster violated the terms of a 2008 engineering, procurement and construction agreement and submitted claims for payment that are “entirely without merit.”

During site preparation for the project, contractors removed 3.9 million cubic yards of earth during the excavation of 90-foot-deep holes for the two reactors and refilled those areas with 3.6 million cubic yards of backfill.

During that project, extra costs were incurred because of the need for additional backfill, for which the contractors were paid an additional $61 million, the complaint said.

On Aug. 31, 2011, after the project was completed, a new request was submitted for $66,917,000 more.

The owners paid $7,006,871 of that sum, after which the contractors submitted a revised bill for $58,507,000.

Although the owners disputed the added costs, they paid 50 percent of the bill – $29,253,500 – on June 9, the complaint said.

The contractors filed suit against the owners July 25, seeking the remainder of the bill, in violation of the 2008 agreement, which requires that mediation efforts be exhausted before lawsuits can be filed.

The contractors “violated the express conditions” of the contract by filing suit July 25, when mediation did not commence until July 30, the complaint said.

Thus, the contractors’ lawsuit was premature and subject to dismissal, and the Plant Vogtle owners are entitled to a refund of the $29,253,500, plus interest, the complaint said.

The plaintiffs are Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton. They are seeking a jury trial.

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