ATLANTA (AP) — A state agency's analysts say a multi-billion dollar nuclear project in east Georgia should be cancelled.
Analysts assigned by the Georgia Public Service Commission to evaluate progress at plant Vogtle near Augusta say the project should be scrapped as Georgia Power failed to manage it in a "reasonable manner," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported .
"Completion of the project is no longer economic given the additional costs and schedule delays," the analysts said in written testimony to commissioners.
The analysts recommend that a reasonable total project cost be set at $8.3 billion — $3.9 billion less than what Georgia Power estimates for completion.
Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers has told commissioners that completing the project presented the best economic option for customers.
In November, Bowers asked commissioners to rule on whether the new estimates by Georgia power and its partners were reasonable, before the company, which owns 45.7 percent of Vogtle continues spending additional dollars on the project.
As of June, total project costs incurred stood at $5.85 billion. Georgia Power estimates total project costs at completion to be $12.2 billion, with completion dates for units 3 and 4 set for November 2021 and 2022, respectively.
CEOs of companies that are partnering with Georgia Power have appealed to commissioners to approve the new project costs and have customers continue funding the project.
Those companies include Oglethorpe Power; Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia; and Dalton utilities.
But experts opposed Georgia Power and partner company requests to shift the project's financial risks resulting from contractor's failures to customers as some costs "incurred by the company were not reasonable to allocate to customers." Instead, they said Georgia Power and its shareholders should shoulder the risk.
The company has not provided justification in its requests to apportion ratepayers 100 percent of its expected costs, the analysts said.
Georgia Power spokesman John Kraft said the company shared in the "financial risk of the Vogtle project," citing "severe consequences for delays in place under an agreement with the Georgia PSC."
The question of whether to proceed with construction of the two reactors in Augusta continues to be a divisive issue and the fate of the project is dependent on a decision by the commissioners expected in February.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com