Ratepayers across the South could be saddled with billions of dollars in excess nuclear plant construction costs, according to an economic study released Thursday.
The 86-page report, written by analyst Mark Cooper of the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment, predicted that nuclear cost overruns and other factors will continue to inflate the costs of projects such as Plant Vogtle in Burke County and SCANA’s V.C. Summer expansion in South Carolina.
“While the economic case against nuclear reactor construction was strong in 2008 when these engineering, procurement and construction contracts were signed and the construction approved, a dramatic change in material conditions was evident by 2009-2010 and the reactors should have been cancelled,” the study said.
Advance cost recovery guarantees, Cooper wrote, shifted the risks from stockholders to ratepayers, who will bear the price of cost overruns.
The study focused on the V.C. Summer project, which Cooper concluded will cost that state’s ratepayers $10 billion in excess costs. Other states would likely face larger excessive costs.
“The exact amount (of the excess costs) will vary depending on the assumptions made about the construction costs, the discount rate (cost of capital), the projected cost of gas, and the cost and availability of other alternatives,” he said.
In Georgia, the price of the Vogtle expansion recently rose from $14 billion to more than $14.7 billion, based on data provided to the Georgia Public Service Commission.