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Thursday, January 20, 2011 - 10:52am

Sharing Nuclear Expansion Costs

Last month the Georgia Public Service Commission approved a surcharge to help Georgia Power pay for construction of the first nuclear reactors to be built in the country in thirty years.

Now commissioners want to make sure ratepayers aren’t saddled with the bill if the estimated $14 billion project goes over budget

The plan offered up by a senior PSC staffer would split any overruns between the utility and its customers. It also would reward the company with a boost in profits if the project were to come in under budget.

Georgia Power spokesman Jeff Wilson says the plan isn’t fair because it doesn’t look at new costs that might come from changes in federal nuclear regulations.

"We don’t feel like we should be penalized for costs that are beyond our control."

He adds that the plan isn't necessary because there's already a law in Georgia that protects ratepayers.

"Only costs associated with the project that are considered to be prudently spent and approved by the commission are allowed to be recovered from ratepayers and any costs on the other side that are not determined to be prudently spent cannot be recovered from ratepayers."

Wilson says construction of the new reactors is on schedule and on budget.

The PSC will vote on the risk-sharing plan next month.