“… costs for Plant Vogtle have ballooned past $34 billion, the equivalent of $15,000/kW, making it the most expensive power plant ever built on earth.”
“… no, it’s not ‘litigation’ ‘anti-nuke greenies’ or ‘overburdened regulations’ that’s behind Plant Vogtle’s failures. It’s incompetence. Or let’s be charitable: Is this thing just too hard to build?” (Patty Durand, below)
Patty Durand, candidate for the Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) in a special election this year, is running on a platform, “let’s regulate utilities better.” I would prefer her tag line to also be, ‘let’s remove franchise protection from Georgia Power and the rest of the Southern Company utilities for competition.’ But take whatever is available in a crony business/regulator state, long exposed by Jim Clarkson (here).
I don’t think enough people realize the trouble that Plant Vogtle is having and how difficult and expensive building nuclear power is, and how unnecessary. I will post why nuclear is unnecessary tomorrow but today I want to give you a peek at what’s going on.
In 2017 commissioners on the Ga PSC voted to continue Plant Vogtle after the Westinghouse bankruptcy, ignoring their own staff’s recommendation to cancel. Since that decision things have not gone well: costs for Plant Vogtle have ballooned past $34 billion, the equivalent of $15,000/kW, making it the most expensive power plant ever built on earth.
Just in the past 18 months here are dates we’ve been told by Georgia Power about when Unit 3 will be in commercial operation:
It’s not surprising Unit 3 isn’t working when you read the staff and independent construction monitor’s PSC filings. These excerpts reveal just a tiny fraction of what is going on:
“As Staff has stated in every Vogtle Construction Monitoring (VCM) proceeding beginning with the sixth VCM, unachievable, and therefore overly aggressive, schedules have had and continue to have serious negative unintended consequences as follows:
a. Difficult to status the Project cost and schedule
b. Inability for senior management to hold personnel accountable to the schedule
c. Promotes a culture of production over quality
d. Promotes a culture of poor inspecting or non-inspecting of work
e. Inability to sufficiently staff activities
f. High personnel turnover and absenteeism
g. Inability to accurately status the project
h. Large backlogs of work scopes
i. Large backlogs of work package closures
j. High first-time component testing failure rates (80%)
k. Extensive rework and retesting
(December 1, 2021, Roetger Jacobs 25th VCM filing p.17-18)
GIVEN SOUTHERN NUCLEAR COMPANY’S APPROACH TO PROJECT PLANNING AND THE SCHEDULE PERFORMANCE TO DATE, HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THESE EFFORTS?
“Simply stated, it is to develop an unachievable plan, fail relatively quickly, and repeat the process to develop a new (and still unachievable) plan. When first creating the unrealistic plan, this is usually accompanied with, and based upon, a “Productivity Improvement Plan” wherein improvements in productivity are assumed within both the newly established Schedule Baseline and in the going forward cost estimates, but performance then falls far short of these assumed improvements.”
(June 5, 2020, Don Grace 22nd VCM filing page 22)
This should give you a sense that no, it’s not “litigation” “anti-nuke greenies” or “overburdened regulations” that’s behind Plant Vogtle’s failures. It’s incompetence. Or let’s be charitable: Is this thing just too hard to build?
We are hearing only good news these days about both units.
Georgia Power currently projects a Unit 3 in-service date in May or June of 2023. Unit 4 is projected to be complete in either late Q4 2023 or Q1 2024.
Perhaps the end of the construction misery is in sight on two units that never should have been started and should have been abandoned along the way. But just perhaps there are more surprises to come–and not good.