Negotiations at Vogtle with Westinghouse extended again

A fourth extension in the interim assessment agreement between Georgia Power and Westinghouse over troubled expansion units at Plant Vogtle has pushed the deadline to Friday.

 

“Negotiations regarding the Vogtle nuclear expansion near Waynesboro are making progress,” said Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins. “To allow negotiations to continue, the parties have agreed to extend the interim assessment agreement through Friday at 5 p.m.”

The agreement was first put into place March 28, the day before Westinghouse filed bankruptcy. The Toshiba Corp.-owned company cited cost overruns at Plant Vogtle and South Carolina’s nuclear expansion project at V.C. Summer as reasons for its financial woes.

Georgia Power, majority owner of the Vogtle expansion, took over responsibility for the project and has been directly footing the bill to keep construction progressing. The agreement was extended to May 12, then again to June 2. When negotiations remained unfinished, the deadline was extended first to June 5 and then to Friday. The original agreement between Westinghouse and South Carolina Electric and Gas at V.C. Summer was extended to June 26.

The utility company has come under criticism from consumer advocacy groups for continued charges to collect nuclear construction funds up front, but Georgia Power said it is committed to equitable rates and finishing the Vogtle expansion.

While operating under the agreement, Georpia Power is preparing a cost-to-complete analysis. When finished, that will be presented to the Georgia Public Service Commission so a path forward can be chosen and approved. According to PSC hearings, options for the plant include finishing both reactors simultaneously, focusing on one then the other, abandoning one or both, and potentially converting the facilities to natural gas.

“Georgia Power continues work to complete its full-scale schedule and cost-to-complete analysis and work with the project Co-owners (Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities) and the Georgia Public Service Commission to determine the best path forward for customers,” Hawkins said.

Currently, operational deadlines have been set to bring Vogtle Units 3 and 4 online by December 2019 and September 2020, respectively. Georgia Power executives said those deadlines have been jeopardized by the Westinghouse bankruptcy but that more information would become available once the cost-to-complete analysis and negotiations with the struggling contractor are complete.

Reach Thomas Gardiner at (706) 823-3339 or thomas.gardiner@augustachronicle.com.

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