Plant Vogtle #3 and #4: More Issues (costs, delay, partner opt-downs)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- August 2, 2022 No Comments

Editor Update: Since this article was prepared, Southern Company (the parent of Georgia Power) announced another cost increase and delay.

“Since September 2018, the project budget has increased five times, and is now expected to total more than $30 billion [from $14 billion in 2009].”

The bad news continues at Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle #3 and #4, the first nuclear units to be constructed in six years. The most complicated, expensive, and hazardous way to boil water, (government-enabled) nuclear remains a mirage of cost-effective engineering.

A project that broke ground in 2013, expected to cost $14 billion with start-up in 2016 (Unit 3) and 2017 (Unit 4), is now past $30 billion with estimated start dates in 2023/24. The U.S. Department of Energy has contributed loan guarantees of $12 billion to the project.

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Plant Vogtle Went Backward in 2021 (can nuclear improve, become cost-effective)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- January 4, 2022 No Comments

2021 was supposed to be the year of progress and a final close to the disasterous Plant Vogtle #3 and #4. But it was anything but with early 2022 looking like things have retrogressed.

Early in 2021, crews at Georgia Power’s nuclear expansion site at Plant Vogtle were struggling to find all the leaks in a pool built to hold spent, highly radioactive fuel. They added air pressure under the floor of the water-filled pool, hoping air bubbles would pinpoint flawed welds. It didn’t work. So an engineer doubled the air pressure.

The result: The pool’s steel floor plates were damaged, rendering them unusable. New ones had to be manufactured. The fixes and rechecks of the pool have taken nearly a year and cost millions of dollars. It’s been that kind of a year at Plant Vogtle.

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Nuclear Fiasco: Plant Vogtle 3 & 4 ‘Adjustment’ (what’s new?)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- November 10, 2021 6 Comments

“As we’ve said from the beginning of this project, we are going to build these units the right way…. We have endured and overcome some extraordinary circumstances building the first new nuclear units in the U.S. in more than 30 years. Despite these challenges, progress at the site has been steady and evident.”

– Chris Womack, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power, October 21, 2021

Forget the U.S. Synthetic Fuel Administration of the 1970s. Forget the Obama Administration’s Solyndra project. The biggest debacle in modern U.S. energy history appears to be in Georgia, and the saga continues.

And far from unique, the latest-and-greatest in nuclear (this was supposed to be the breakthrough) is a warning sign about nuclear power in general. It has always needed government subsidies and protection. And it was a setup train wreck under lenient public utility regulation that allowed the franchised monopoly utility to recover all costs and a “reasonable” rate of return on invested capital.

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Plant Vogtle: More Bad News (Georgia Power’s philosophic fraud, imprudence)

By Jim Clarkson -- January 3, 2019 2 Comments

“As usual the Georgia Power Company and the Georgia Public Service Commission staff quibble over the cost-to-complete analysis of Plant Vogtle (Units 3 & 4). The company inflates the cost of the combined-cycle alternative and leaves out costs of completing the project.”

“After water-boarding the numbers, the Company says completing the project is in the best interest of ratepayers. Staff again catches phony numbers and says an eight-month delay will make the project uneconomic. The full Commission again ignores the staff criticisms and approves whatever Georgia Power tells them. … Yawn.”

“Georgia Power’s obvious strategy is to delay the bad news until they get more sunk cost behind them.  The actual construction is about 60% complete; and Georgia Power, as always, says the schedule and budget projections are ‘challenging’.”

In his recent treatise on the contra-capitalist corporation, Enron Ascending: The Forgotten Years, Robert Bradley Jr.

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Betting the House on Plant Vogtle

By Joseph Pokalsky -- September 18, 2018 4 Comments Continue Reading

Plant Boondoggle (Georgia Power’s Vogtle 3 & 4)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- August 18, 2021 2 Comments Continue Reading

Vogtle Plant: Nuclear Power’s Failed Renaissance

By Jim Clarkson -- January 6, 2016 2 Comments Continue Reading

Anti-Nuclear Group Uses Free Market Arguments against Vogtle Plant

By Jim Clarkson -- December 8, 2015 No Comments Continue Reading

Bad News Vogtle #3 and #4 Yet Again

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- February 24, 2022 1 Comment Continue Reading

Vogtle: Nuclear Renaissance Gone Bad (Georgia Power’s rent-seeking nightmare)

By Jim Clarkson -- March 11, 2015 1 Comment Continue Reading