$224M Georgia Power rate hike likely for nuclear plant

Oct 14, 2021, 9:05 AM | Updated: 9:37 am

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Power Co. customers are likely to pay another $224 million a year for the first of two nuclear reactors near Augusta.

The company says the proposal would raise bills for a typical residential customer by about 3%, or $3.78 a month on a bill of $122.73.

The rate increase would start after Unit 3 at Plant Vogtle begins generating electricity. The reactor is now supposed to go into service in June. Customers could be asked to pay substantially more once the fourth reactor begins generating power, now scheduled for sometime in 2023.

A $157 million rate hike, costing a typical residential customer $2.87 a month, is also set to begin on Jan. 1. That’s part of a three-year $1.77 billion plan approved by commissioners in 2019. Customers also are likely to see a third separate rate hike, to allow Georgia Power to cover higher fuel costs.

An agreement regarding the first of the new nuclear reactors was filed Wednesday by the company and Public Service Commission staffers who are tasked with protecting consumer interests. It recommends that the company get most of what it originally asked for. Commissioners, who plan to vote on a rate increase in November, aren’t bound by the agreement, but such deals are typically very influential.

Georgia Power owns 46% of the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle. The unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. currently projects it will spend $9.2 billion, with another $3.2 billion in financing costs. Those numbers could rise as construction delays continue to mount.

The Vogtle reactors are currently projected to cost more than $27.8 billion overall, not counting the $3.68 billion that original contractor Westinghouse paid back to the owners after going bankrupt. When approved in 2012, the estimated cost was $14 billion, with the first electricity being generated in 2016.

Other owners include most Georgia electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. Florida’s Jacksonville Electric Authority and some other municipal utilities and cooperatives in Florida and Alabama are also obligated to buy the nuclear power. The Georgia Public Service Commission controls rates only for Georgia Power.

In a Thursday hearing, several witnesses called for delaying or reducing the proposed rate increase.

“Rate increases are never welcome, but the timing of Vogtle 3 could not be worse,” said Jeffry Pollock, a rate consultant who testified on behalf of the Georgia Association of Manufacturers. He proposed delaying part of the increase until the beginning of 2023.

Georgia Power’s 2.6 million customers have already paid more than $3.5 billion toward the cost of Vogtle units 3 and 4 under an arrangement that’s supposed to hold down borrowing costs. But rates are still projected to rise more as the nuclear reactors are completed. Public Service Commission staff members earlier estimated that the typical customer will have paid $854 in financing costs alone by the time the Vogtle reactors are finished.

The latest agreement would allow the company to collect the $224 million a year to pay for $2.1 billion in construction costs that commissioners have already approved as prudent under the deal. Georgia Power had wanted to collect $235 million a year to pay for $2.38 billion in spending, while the staff had originally proposed allowing Georgia Power to collect $125 million.

“Staff now believes that the stipulation is in the best interest of ratepayers and the commission,” staff analyst Steven Roetger said in Wednesday’s hearing.

Georgia Power would be able to declare the unit operational once it completes testing and any needed repairs. If the unit proves unreliable or doesn’t operate as much as expected after that, the staff and company agreed that the commission could order refunds when it reviews the remaining Unit 4 costs for prudency at the end of the project.

___

Follow Jeff Amy at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A JetBlue Airbus A320 taxis to a gate on Oct. 26, 2016, after landing, as an American Airlin...
Associated Press

American, JetBlue expand deal that US is trying to kill

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines and JetBlue Airways are pushing ahead with an expansion of their partnership in the Northeast, even as a federal judge considers the government’s attempt to kill the deal. The airlines said Friday that American will add six new routes from New York City while dropping one. JetBlue will […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Uber rider fatally stabs New Orleans driver, authorities say

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans Police Department employee who was moonlighting as an Uber driver was stabbed to death by a passenger in what a sheriff said was a random act of deadly violence. Yolanda Dillion, 54, was a fiscal analyst with the police department, New Orleans police chief Shaun Ferguson said Friday. […]
18 hours ago
FILE - People wait in front of a pharmacy to get a COVID-19 test in Paris, France, Sunday, Jan. 9, ...
Associated Press

France to make condoms free for anyone under 25, Macron says

PARIS (AP) — France will make condoms free in pharmacies for anyone up to age 25 in the new year, President Emmanuel Macron announced Friday. The move comes as the government says sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise among young people, and as this year’s exceptional inflation is cutting especially deeply into the budgets […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Connecticut’s first retail cannabis sales to begin Jan. 10

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut’s first retail recreational cannabis sales will begin as soon as Jan. 10, state regulators announced Friday, with about half of the state’s medical marijuana operators expanding their businesses to include the new market for all adults 21 and over. As many as 40 more retailers, along with dozens of other […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

How major US stock indexes fared Friday 12/9/2022

Wall Street closed lower after a report showed inflation is slowing, though not by as much as hoped. The S&P 500 fell 0.7% Friday, marking its first losing week in the last three. The weakness came after the U.S. government reported that prices at the wholesale level were 7.4% higher in November than a year […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

DocuSign, Chewy rise; Lululemon, AmerisourceBergen fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Friday: Chewy Inc., up $1.68 to $43.65. The online pet store surprised investors by turning a profit in the third quarter. Broadcom Inc., up $13.64 to $544.72. The semiconductor maker reported results that beat analysts’ estimates and issued a better-than-expected forecast. DocuSign […]
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
$224M Georgia Power rate hike likely for nuclear plant