A utility regulator in Georgia has asked Southern Co. executives whether the firm has considered taking a loss on the extra costs for building a nuclear power plant. That question came Thursday as utility officials gave their first testimony since announcing the company could not meet its state-approved budget to build two more reactors at Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta.
Southern Company has spent $1.8 billion dollars so far on two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta. The once-secret number was revealed at a public hearing on the project's cost, estimated at $6 billion. The Public Service Commission is overseeing construction costs at the nation's first new nuclear reactors in three decades.
The country's top nuclear safety regulator warned the industry against complacency and said it must resolve several long-running issues, including fire protection and a new analysis of earthquake risks. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko told power company executives Thursday that two proposed nuclear reactors in Georgia and several others are under increased scrutiny because of safety problems.
Southern Nuclear officials say a reactor at Plant Vogtle shut down during equipment maintenance. The company said that the plant's safety systems functioned properly during the Wednesday morning incident and the reactor is stable. Plant workers are investigating the cause.
Utility regulators have approved Georgia Power's spending on a new nuclear plant and set a schedule for reviewing the company's plan to meet the state's electricity needs in coming years. The commissioners also set a timeline for reviewing the utility's plan to meet the state's electricity needs through the start of 2015.
Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning told analysts Wednesday that administrative rules could mean that federal regulators will not give the utility a license to build two more nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta until early 2012.
The report released Friday questions whether the Southern Co. subsidiary can build the first of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta by April 2016 at an approved cost of roughly $6.1 billion. If federal regulators approve the project, it could become the first U.S. nuclear plant to break ground in a generation.