With little more than two hours until it expired, representatives from Georgia Power and Westinghouse agreed to extend the interim agreement keeping construction moving forward at the beleaugered Plant Vogtle expansion near Waynesboro.
Westinghouse was contracted to build two AP1000 reactors at Vogtle, doubling the number of reactors on site. The plan is meant to add generating capacity to provide power to more than 500,000 homes and businesses. But missed deadlines and cost overruns drove the Toshiba subsidiary company to file bankruptcy March 29.
Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company and primary stakeholder in the Vogtle expansion, entered into an interim 30-day agreement to foot the bill to keep construction moving. That agreement was set to expire at midnight Friday night. The two organizations announced the extended agreement with just over two hours to spare.
The agreement could have been pushed out another two months, but according to Georgia Power officials, the extension only adds two weeks, ending May 12.
“During this time, the parties will continue to work on finalizing a new service agreement which would, if necessary, assure that Westinghouse continues to provide design, engineering and procurement services to Southern Nuclear as a part of their assumption of control over construction management,” Georgia Power said in a press release.
The agreement stands in contrast to an extension reached only a few hours earlier between SCANA and Westinghouse over the AP1000 reactors under construction at the VC Summer Plant near Jenkinsville, SC. Utility companies in the neighboring states had nearly mirrored one another till the extension agreements. The South Carolina agreement was extended about 6 weeks to June 26.
Georgia Power representatives said the company will continue to fight to ensure Westinghouse honors its financial obligations. During the interim agreement, the utility company is preparing a full analysis and potential options to present to the Georgia Public Service Commission. According to PSC vice-chairman Tim Echols, those options include considerations to convert the units to natural gas generators.
Vogtle is years beyond deadline, originally scheduled to begin operations this year, and billions over budget. Individual Georgia Power ratepayers have already paid as much as $500 each to fund the expansion project. It is not yet clear how costs currently borne by Georgia Power post-bankruptcy will be passed on to consumers or how the Public Service Commission will vote to proceed once the utility company brings the future options to the table.