Georgia Public Service Commission gives go-ahead to Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle

By Jonathan Grant

Tim Echols

I’ll have more in the hours and days to come, but here’s the gist of today’s Georgia Public Service Commission 5-0 decision to approve continued construction on Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4, with conditions. Watch the one-hour meeting on PSC’s livestream feed.

Download a pdf of Tim Echols Motion in Docket 29849 

Key rulings:

  • Motion made by Tim Echols, as expected; no cost caps and a lowered return on equity on the Units from 10 percent to 8.3 percent. Original motion called for an 8.7 ROE. Commissioner Lauren McDonald introduced a motion to lower the ROE  further, but his motion died for lack of a second.
  • Georgia Power will pass through bankrupt contractor Toshiba’s settlement payment to ratepayers in the form of three $25 monthly credits on bills in 2018.
  • Controversy: Approving a 5 megawatt solar facility on-site, so that drivers on River Road “would see solar before they see our reactors.” Call it the Potemkin Village of renewable energy. Passed 3-2, Commissioners Everett and McDonald dissenting.

Biggest tell: Echols calling them “our reactors.” So yeah, the PSC definitely owns Vogtle now, as if there was ever any doubt.

Georgia Power’s attorney, obviously apprised of the motion in advance, accepted the commission’s conditions, so Vogtle is pretty much a done deal, although the long-term economic effects will  depend on who’s sitting on the bench when Units 3 and 4 come online three election cycles from now. We could be seeing five new faces on the commission. Something to hope for, anyway.

Speaking of new faces…

Democratic Georgia PSC candidate John Noel, who’s challenging commissioner Chuck Eaton in in 2018, issued the following statement criticizing the decision:

John Noel

“Georgia Power got what it wanted. This decision to approve continued construction on Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 means even more money will be poured down this bottomless rat hole. The main concern of the PSC and Georgia Power now is how best to put a positive spin on the costly boondoggle. But the people of Georgia are fed up with the long stream of rationalizations and broken promises about Vogtle. It’s time we had Commissioners with the fortitude to place blame where it belongs and start protecting electricity customers. The relationship between the PSC and the utility is just too cozy.”

Read John Noe’s statement on Docket 29849



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