Ga. nu­clear plant de­layed at least 1 year

The Covington News - - THE CLASSIFIED SEARCH -

Con­struc­tion of a first-of-its-kind nu­clear power plant in Ge­or­gia will be de­layed by more than a year, likely caus­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in ex­tra costs, ac­cord­ing to a report from a state-hired mon­i­tor.

At­lanta-based South­ern Co. and its part­ners are spend­ing an es­ti­mated $14 bil­lion to build the first nu­clear plant erected from scratch in the U.S. in a gen­er­a­tion. The first of the new re­ac­tors at Plant Vog­tle was sup­posed to be fin­ished on April 1, 2016, with the sec­ond re­ac­tor a year later.

South­ern Co. of­fi­cials have said that sched­ule has slipped to Novem­ber 2016 for the first re­ac­tor or even early- to mid-2017. In a report filed Fri­day, nu­clear en­gi­neer Wil­liam Ja­cobs Jr. said he be­lieved the first re­ac­tor will be com­pleted no ear­lier than June 2017. Ja­cobs cau­tioned that ad­di­tional de­lays are pos­si­ble.

Ja­cobs said sched­ule de­lays could po­ten­tially drive up project and fi­nanc­ing costs.

“The cost of a one-year de­lay in the project is in the range of hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars,” said Ja­cobs, who mon­i­tors the con­struc­tion project for Ge­or­gia’s Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion which reg­u­lates util­i­ties.

De­lays are sig­nif­i­cant be­cause the costs may ul­ti­mately be paid by elec­tric­ity cus­tomers. There are also con­se­quences for the nu­clear in­dus­try. Util­ity of­fi­cials have hoped that the Plant Vog­tle project and two iden­ti­cal re­ac­tors un­der con­struc­tion at Plant Sum­mer in South Carolina would demon­strate nu­clear plants can be built with­out the de­lays and cost over­runs that dogged the in­dus­try decades ago.

Buzz Miller, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of nu­clear devel­op­ment at South­ern Co., said dur­ing a tour of the con­struc­tion site Tues­day that the plant will be eco­nom­i­cally vi­able even if costs in­crease.

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