Georgia Power and Westinghouse Electric have reached a tentative agreement for the Atlanta, Georgia, utility and sister company Southern Nuclear to take over management of the Plant Vogtle project indefinitely from the bankrupt nuclear icon.
The new agreement will take effect “once the current … construction contract is rejected in Westinghouse’s bankruptcy proceeding,” the companies said.
The two companies said an existing interim agreement, which was set to expire last Friday, will be extended to June 3 to give the companies time to finalize the new deal and get required approvals, including from bankruptcy court. Atlanta-based Southern Co. is the parent of Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear.
Georgia Power did not indicate in its statement what its long-term plans are for the nuclear expansion project, Kallanish Energy learns.
“Georgia Power will continue 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,” the company said, in a statement.
Since the March 29 bankruptcy filing by Westinghouse, the project’s key contractor, Georgia Power has been spending roughly $50 million a month under the extended contract to continue building two new nuclear reactors at the plant near Augusta, Ga.
Westinghouse is owned by Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, which is expected to try to back out of the Vogtle project as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. Georgia Power and Southern say they are looking at all options, including completing construction under different management, converting the project to another type of power plant, or abandoning it.
The $20 billion project is well over $3 billion over budget and more than three years behind schedule. Roughly 6,000 employees and contractors are working at the site, with about 43% of the construction completed, utility executives told the Georgia Public Service Commission at a hearing last week.
Georgia Power and its partners are bankrolling the project with more than $8 billion in federal loans and loan guarantees. Georgia Power has also collected nearly $2 billion paid through “financing” surcharges that add about $100 a year to residential customers’ bills.