Vogtle Math: Georgia Power Posts Record Profits, Citizens Call for Cancellation of Unnecessary Nuclear Reactors

Georgia Power profits have been at an all-time high since beginning Vogtle 3 & 4. Georgia Power posted a 20.5% profit in 2019!

ATLANTA 9/14/2020: Nuclear Watch South released its annual updated performance data culled from Georgia Power’s SEC-filed annual reports today in the wake of the recent filing of Georgia Power’s 23rd Vogtle Construction Monitoring Report (VCM23) with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC).

The group finds that the data from 2009 through 2019 show several clear trends: Georgia Power has an excess of over 30% in its power portfolio and sales have stubbornly remained flat. Vogtle 3 & 4 are simply not needed and should be cancelled concludes the group and its economics expert Steven Prenovitz who compiled and analyzed the figures.

Prenovitz declares, “Given the fact that Vogtle’s meager 1,000 MWs of capacity was never needed (it only increases Georgia Power’s capacity by 7.0%), the fact that Georgia Power’s sales volume has actually declined over the past 10 years, and the fact that costs keep escalating highlights the futility of this endeavor.

“In the past five years, Georgia Power actually reduced its total capacity about 3,600 MWs and yet it still has more than 30% excess capacity,” he continues. “So why does Vogtle’s construction continue?”

Nuclear Watch South makes the point that Vogtle isn’t just about making electricity (and radioactive waste) it is mainly about making money for Georgia’s most powerful monopoly. Georgia Power’s profits jumped considerably by more than 20% annually when it started construction of the two unnecessary reactors in Burke County. In 2019, Georgia Power posted a whopping 20.5% profit.

Nuclear Watch South has released Georgia Power’s performance data annually since 2013. Georgia Power and the PSC have routinely ignored the data, but have never refuted it.

Glenn Carroll, coordinator of Nuclear Watch South says, “Vogtle 3 & 4 should be cancelled. Georgia Power simply does not need this $27 billion radioactive white elephant in its portfolio. It has become obvious that the project is a cash cow for this state-regulated, for-profit monopoly.

“The PSC has been grossly negligent in allowing this boondoggle to continue at the expense of the public it is supposed to protect,” she continues.

Although the semi-annual proceedings at the PSC are titled “Verification of Expenditures Pursuant to Georgia Power Company’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4” Georgia Power and the PSC have obstinately chosen to ignore the big picture and the record shows that the PSC rubberstamps approval of skyrocketing Vogtle expenditures every six months. 

In the most recent VCM23, Georgia Power seeks to recover $701 million spent January-June 2020. That is just Georgia Power’s 45.7% share of Vogtle 3 & 4 construction expenses. On behalf of itself and its rural and municipal co-op partners (or rather the electricity customers of Georgia) Georgia Power has spent $1.5339 BILLION for the six-month period. This staggering figure amounts to $8.5 million per day.

Georgia Power lays at least some of the blame for rapidly escalating costs on the COVID 19 pandemic. The site has suffered more than 800 cases of COVID between March and end of August 2020. Georgia Power also blames COVID for high absenteeism and the loss of quality craft and management personnel.

In the VCM23, Georgia Power claims to be 87% finished with Vogtle 3 & 4 construction. That figure is doubtful according to PSC Vogtle construction monitors’ testimony in VCM22 earlier this summer and by Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) metrics discussed below. Georgia Power has, however, consumed 90% of the budget for Vogtle 3 & 4.

In VCM23, Georgia Power has moved nuclear fuel rod loading for Vogtle 3 from November 2020 to December 2020. The NRC which regulates construction and safety of the nuclear reactors will permit delay of fuel load until June 2021. Nuclear Watch South intervened before the NRC to oppose Vogtle 3 fuel load earlier this year. (see story)

Georgia Power’s progress on the safety review which precedes regulatory permission to load nuclear fuel is very slow. Georgia Power is the only entity ever to undertake the NRC’s new ITAAC (inspections, tests, analysis and acceptance criteria) safety review process. In order to load fuel, Georgia Power must complete all ITAAC and the NRC must complete its safety review. Only about a third of the Vogtle 3 ITAAC are complete at this point in time.

In April 2020, when Nuclear Watch South challenged the fuel load, Georgia Power still had 277 ITAAC to complete. Since then it has only completed 20 ITAAC, averaging four ITAAC per month. In order to meet its stated goal, Georgia Power must complete 25 to 100 ITAAC per month, a rate which it has never before achieved.

Ms. Carroll says, “It beggars belief that Georgia Power baldly states that it can load fuel in Vogtle 3 in December. It should be a crime that the company is allowed to make such crazy money on the public’s dime while lying about the biggest and most expensive project in Georgia history and that our elected officials aid and abet this bad behavior.

“Vogtle should be cancelled. It is not needed and the public should not be forced to fork over one more cent for this radioactive waste factory on the Savannah River,” she concludes.

written by Glenn Carroll, Coordinator Nuclear Watch South

Resources:

Georgia Power Key Financial and Operating Data 2009-2019  https://www.nonukesyall.org/pdfs/2019%20GPC%20Key%20Financial%20Data.pdf

Georgia Power Sales Volume 2008-2019   https://www.nonukesyall.org/pdfs/GPC%20Sales%20Volume%202008-2019.pdf

Georgia Power Capacity Utilization 2008-2019    https://www.nonukesyall.org/pdfs/GPC%20Capacity%20Utilization%202008-2019.pdf

Georgia Power Profits 2008-2019   https://www.nonukesyall.org/pdfs/Georgia%20Power%20Profits%202008-2019.pdf

Vogtle 3 ITAAC Review Status Report (NRC)  https://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/new-licensing-files/vog3-icnsr.pdf

Vogtle Construction Monitoring Report #23   https://psc.ga.gov/search/facts-document/?documentId=182340

Glenn Carroll, Coordinator

NUCLEAR WATCH SOUTH

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