Georgia Power cleared a critical hurdle for building two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle when it announced Monday it had received the first installment of payments from the parent company of its original contractor.
The company said it received $137 million of the $300 million payment from Toshiba as part of the $3.68 billion that the parent company of Westinghouse guaranteed to pay toward the project after Westinghouse declared bankruptcy in March. Georgia Power owns a 45.7 percent share of the project and considered those payments crucial to being able to complete it in its filing with the Georgia Public Service Commission. The reactors, which are already well behind schedule and budget, would be the first in the U.S. in more than three decades. The public service commission will decide whether the project can continue some time later this year or early next year.
If allowed to proceed, the new reactors would come on line in 2021 and 2022, according to new projections. If Toshiba follows through on all of its guaranteed payments, Georgia Power would receive $1.7 billion as its share, which would lower its total projected costs for the reactors, including financing, from $12.1 billion to $10.4 billion, according to a recent filing. The project’s total capital cost is $19 billion but only Georgia Power is required to report all of its costs and the financing amounts by the other partners is unknown. If those financing costs are the same as Georgia Power’s, and the company has cautioned against using its costs for a projection, The Augusta Chronicle calculated the project’s total cost would be closer to $30 billion.
Georgia Power also received good news last week when U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced that the Vogtle project will receive an additional $3.7 billion in loan guarantees, of which the company will receive $1.67 billion. The department had already guaranteed $8.3 billion in loans to the project. Georgia Power has said the $3.4 billion in loan guarantees it has received has saved customers $375 million.
“I believe the future of nuclear energy in the United States is bright and look forward to expanding American leadership in innovative nuclear technologies,” Perry said. “Advanced nuclear energy projects like Vogtle are the kind of important energy infrastructure projects that support a reliable and resilient grid, promote economic growth, and strengthen our energy and national security.”
U.S Rep. Rick Allen, R-Ga., whose district includes the project in Waynesboro, praised Perry for the new loan guarantees.
“Georgia’s 12th Congressional district and Plant Vogtle are at the forefront of nuclear energy expansion, where they are constructing two of the first new nuclear reactors in the United States in more than 30 years,” Allen said in a statement. “I extend my deepest gratitude to Secretary Perry for his renewed commitment to Plant Vogtle. With today’s investment announcement, the Department of Energy recognizes that the future of nuclear energy in America depends on this important project.”
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213