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Wednesday, December 2, 2009 - 12:26pm

Lawsuit Over Ga. Power's Nuclear Expansion Stalls

A lawsuit over whether it's constitutional to let Georgia Power charge its customers up front to build two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle stalled in court Wednesday.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy didn’t get a chance to argue its case in Fulton County Superior Court in downtown Atlanta because the judge disclosed he owns stock in the utility’s parent company and offered to recuse himself from the case.

SACE’s lawyer Michael Carvalho accepted. “For purposes of good order, the judge did indicate he’s a shareholder in Southern Company, and we feel these matters will have significant impact on the shareholders of Southern Company," says Carvalho, "and we intend to go after the shareholders quite vehemently.”

Carvalho says shareholders will be the ones profiting from Georgia Power's $6.4 billion project to expand Plant Vogtle.

A new judge must now be assigned the case which could take weeks.

SACE is suing Georgia Power, but also the Public Service Commission and the state for making customers pre-pay for the construction project and for exempting big businesses from the tab. Carvalho says it’s unfair and unconstitutional.

Lawmakers passed a bill last session approving the controversial funding.

Traditionally, customers pay for those projects after they’re completed.