ATLANTA - Environmental and community activists on Thursday urged state regulators to deny Georgia Power's request to charge customers about $51 million in planning and application costs for new nuclear reactors.
Georgia Power and the three other owners of Plant Vogtle in Burke County are compiling a preliminary application they hope to submit to federal regulators this summer.
The application weighs whether to add two reactors at the power-generating facility.
The federal government has renewed interest in nuclear energy with the promise of financial incentives for utility companies to build the first new reactors in decades.
Critics who turned out for the Georgia Public Service Commission's hearing said the state's electricity customers should not buy into the push.
"This may already be going down at the federal level, but that doesn't mean Georgia has to pony up funds," said Glenn Carroll, a coordinator for Georgians Against Nuclear Energy.
Georgia Power officials say they are asking customers for the estimated $51 million in licensing and pre-construction costs at a later time, when the final decision about building the reactors is made. A deferred account would be set up and reviewed by the commission at a later time.
The request before the PSC would allow Georgia Power to tally the ongoing costs in a separate account with the expectation that they eventually will be repaid through customers' electric bills.
The five-member board is to make a decision June 22. If it denies the request, the company would have to pay for the application expenses through other revenue sources.
"We have thought long and hard about another way to do it without having to keep going through these proceedings," Georgia Power Comptroller Ann Daiss said, adding that discussions with external auditors showed that the request to set up a deferred account was the only way to avoid charging current customers.
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PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONERS
How to contact members with opinions on building new nuclear reactors:
By phone: (800) 282-5813 or (404) 656-4501
By mail: Georgia Public Service Commission, 244 Washington St. SW, Atlanta GA, 30334
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