Tag Archives: Vogtle

Vogtle: at $65 billion and counting, it’s a case study of nuclear power’s staggeringly awful economics

Vogtle Units 3 (left) and 4, July 30, 2015. After 41 months of construction, the project is 39 months behind schedule. Photo by High Flyer, special to Savannah River Site Watch.

Vogtle Units 3 (left) and 4, July 30, 2015. After 41 months of construction, the project is 39 months behind schedule. Photo by High Flyer, special to Savannah River Site Watch.

Georgia is one state that you would think would be wary of nuclear power economics. The first two reactors at Georgia Power’s Vogtle site, which came online in the late 1980s, were a record 800% over budget.

That is a number that is almost impossible to grasp. Nothing goes 800% over budget–in the real world, projects get cancelled well before reaching that point. Continue reading

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Lamar Alexander’s nuclear fantasyland

Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN. Photo from Wikipedia.

Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN. Photo from Wikipedia.

Back in 2008, when presidential candidate John McCain was calling for construction of 45 new reactors in the U.S. (and presidential candidate Barack Obama was calling for “safe” nuclear power), Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander outdid his colleague: he issued a call for construction of 100 new nuclear reactors.

In 2008, the nuclear “renaissance” was in full swing. McCain’s call didn’t seem–at least to nuclear backers–far-fetched in the least. After all, the NRC at the time already had some 30 applications for licenses for new reactors.  Continue reading

Some real Turkey Week turkeys

It's a race to the bottom: which reactor will come online first? Vogtle (pictured here in March 2014) or Flamanville (pictured below). Or, alternatively, which project will be abandoned first?

It’s a race to the bottom: which reactor will come online first? Vogtle (pictured here in March 2014) or Flamanville (pictured below). Or, alternatively, which project will be abandoned first?

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S., what better time to take a look at some of the real turkeys in the nuclear power business?

We don’t have to go back far, however. All of these turkeys took place just this week! Continue reading

35 clean energy organizations urge DOE to end nuclear loan program

Seven years later, the DOE's $18.5 Billion nuclear loan program has paid only for this (the Vogtle reactors as of March 2014). And according to Southern Co. execs, the taxpayer loan wasn't even needed.

Seven years later, the DOE’s $18.5 Billion nuclear loan program has paid only for this (the Vogtle reactors as of March 2014). And according to Southern Co. execs, the taxpayer loan wasn’t even needed.

Today, 35 clean energy organizations from across the country submitted formal comments to the Department of Energy (DOE) urging it to end its nuclear loan program. The comments are in response to a DOE solicitation seeking to revive the failed program which, after seven years, has succeeded only in providing one loan to a nuclear project (the Vogtle reactors in Georgia) whose executives publicly said they didn’t need it and offering a loan to another project (Calvert Cliffs-3 in Maryland) for which it would have been illegal for its principal to receive it.  Continue reading

What does Southern Co.’s CEO know that we don’t?

Southern Company CEO Thomas Fanning (left) selling former DOE Secretary Chu on the wonders of Vogtle, 2012.

Southern Company CEO Thomas Fanning (left) selling former DOE Secretary Chu on the wonders of Vogtle, 2012.

The question of the day is what does Southern Company CEO Thomas Fanning know that the rest of the world doesn’t?

The question arises because on September 5th, Fanning sold nearly all his stock in Southern Company, more than a million shares, putting nearly $47 million into his bank account. He kept only 35,000 shares.

That’s a tidy sum, and would seem to be incentive enough to sell–unless one thought the stock would rise higher. It’s not like Fanning was selling off a few shares because he needed some cash to renew a country club membership or something. No, Fanning sold more than 90% of his stake in the company he runs. Not many people have pressing bills of $47 million. Continue reading

Same old story: Summer reactors delayed, overbudget

The Summer nuclear project, May 2014. Still a long ways--and a lot more rate increases--to go.

The Summer nuclear project, May 2014. Still a long ways–and a lot more rate increases–to go.

A few years ago, back before the nuclear “renaissance” had fizzled down to construction of four southern reactors taking advantage of utility-friendly Public Service Commissions (PSCs) that allow the utilities to treat their customers as private banks, there was a lot of boasting in the industry that this time they knew how to get it right.

The spiraling cost overruns and lengthy schedule delays that were emblematic of reactor construction in the 1970s and 1980s would be a thing of the past, the industry promised. New modular construction techniques and, of course, “lessons learned” would ensure that the renaissance reactors would be built on-time and on-budget.

Yeah, right. Continue reading

Vogtle cost/schedule issues reiterated at PSC hearing

Construction site of two new Vogtle reactors. Georgia Power claims they're 56% finished. This photo, taken March 20, 2014, suggests they're not nearly that far along....

Construction site of two new Vogtle reactors. Georgia Power claims they’re 56% finished. This photo, taken March 20, 2014, suggests they’re not nearly that far along….

Just over a week ago we reported that all five reactors now under construction in the U.S. are experiencing delays and cost overruns.  At a hearing Tuesday before the Georgia Public Service Commission on construction of Southern Company’s two Vogtle reactors, the Commission’s own experts “reiterated concerns about struggles for the project south of Augusta. Georgia Power customers are already paying for financing of the expansion on their monthly power bills and one expert has said any additional delay could cost the company $2 million a day. Those costs could be picked up by ratepayers.”

The big news of the day–and news that indicates further delays are likely–was that Southern Company’s Georgia Power division has switched suppliers for some of the very large components of the reactors. The company had chosen a modular approach for construction, which it had hoped would result in lower costs and speedier construction. But the company it chose, CB&I, has been both behind schedule and unable to meet quality control standards. Continue reading