ATLANTA — Cost overruns on the construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle won’t make a significant impact on customers’ monthly power bills, the chief executive officer of Southern Co. said Thursday.
The company’s Georgia Power subsidiary has reported to regulators that construction spending is $381 million over budget and that additional overruns are possible. A dispute with the contractor has led to three federal lawsuits, and a loss in court could add $400 million to Georgia Power’s tab.
CEO Tom Fanning told a luncheon held by the Atlanta Press Club that the combined overage would be within the 6 to 8 percent range of predicted customer increases and well below the 12 percent originally projected.
“This will not raise rates for customers,” he said.
He said most of the $381 million overage was caused by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issuing the construction go-ahead later than what the company had expected.
Fanning predicted no major changes in the design of the two reactors in response to risks identified in the 2011 disaster in Fukushima, Japan, but he did say federal regulators would order changes to existing reactors, including the two already operating at Plant Vogtle.
Instead of retiring those reactors, he said, the cost of the fix would still be a bargain for customers.
On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that the NRC had taken into consideration the lessons of the Fukushima accident when granting the license for Vogtle’s expansion. Nine environmental groups had sued to halt construction on the grounds that more research into the disaster was needed. Construction didn’t halt for the lawsuits.