Monday, December 21, 2015

Vogtle Nuclear Expansion Nears $21 Billion

Subtitle: Vogtle Nuclear Plants Cost More Than $10 Billion Each

"The cost of the new reactors, originally projected at $14 billion, is now (4Q 2015) close to $19 billion and might reach $21 billion, according to recent PSC filings.

Georgia Power executives dispute estimates that the costs could be as high as $21 billion, but there’s no question Vogtle has greatly exceeded its original projections.

The project is also running 39 months behind schedule with even more delays predicted. Each day’s delay in completion adds an estimated $2 million to the total cost.

These cost increases are bad news for Georgia Power’s customers and also for those who get their electricity from EMCs and municipal electric companies."  -- see link

--  From the Columbia County News Times.  h/t to commenter Rex Berglund

The recent news from Georgia, where the Vogtle plant expansion is being built, keeps getting worse and worse - exactly as predicted on SLB.  In a classic bait-and-pay-later move, the project's proponents sold the project to the regulators using a low-ball estimate, and now that billions have been spent, will turn to the "we must finish it to avoid wasting all the money already spent."  This is how a nuclear plant ends up being finished years late, and billions of dollars over the original budget.   Vogtle is presently just over 3 years behind schedule, and $5 billion over the budget.  With years yet to go, there is plenty of time for yet more delays to occur, more cost over-runs, and each year of delay can add $1 billion or more to the cost.  

Construction delays, as described elsewhere on SLB, (see link)  include tearing out and re-working faulty construction, equipment suppliers providing late or defective items, serious adverse weather, unforeseen site conditions, and redesign for new NRC requirements.  Also, delays can be caused by worker slowdowns, lawsuits for allowable causes, owner-contractor disputes, faulty design that requires corrections, acts of God or the enemy (force majeur), improper scheduling by the contractor, inadequate workforce staffing or untrained workforce (learning on the job), poor supervision, and others.

A few years ago, before the Vogtle construction started, I speculated on SLB that whichever US utility was the first to build a new nuclear plant would serve as a warning to all others who might be contemplating building more nuclear plants.  The cost overruns continue, the long delays in completion continue, both of which un-necessarily increase the price of electricity to the consumers.   Meanwhile, alternatives to buying from the utility not only exist, they are increasing.   

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2015 by Roger Sowell all rights reserved

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