“[Ga Power shareholders] are profiting” from the delay, said Philip Hayet, a consultant to the commission.
Since the project began by an estimated $5.2 billion in profits and a cost of $14 billion more for ratepayers. The plant would be a negative $1.6 billion for ratepayers compared to the cost of cancellation now and replacing the electricity generated with a natural gas-fired plant.
“The longer they are out there, the more profit, the more capital investment,” said Tom Newsome, director of utility finance for the commission staff.
One of the key provisions in the decision reduces the utility's capital and construction cost request from roughly $8.9 billion to $7.3 billion. However, on top of the construction cost is an assumed financing cost, which stakeholders say puts the total amount around $10.5 billion.
"Most people have to pay for their mistakes, but Georgia Power is still profiting from theirs,” said Kurt Ebersbach, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), an intervenor in the proceeding. “There’s something wrong with a system that rewards this kind of failure.”
A report filed Dec. 19 by PSC staff, who are independent from the elected commissioners, recommended canceling the project. (http://www.psc.state.ga.us/factsv2/Document.aspx?documentNumber=170562)
“There are practical ways in which ratepayers were hurt as a result of the Company’s errors,” wrote the staff. “The Company cannot meet its burden that it is reasonable to recover these costs from ratepayers.”
The PSC decision offers an infusion of hope for large-scale nuclear in the U.S. Many monitoring the project had categorized it as the last chance to prove the viability of the industry. It’s the only nuclear project currently under construction in the nation.