Energy

Congress Could Force Taxpayers To Foot The Bill For This Troubled Nuclear Power Plant

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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Congress is expected to extend a tax credit in 2018 for a billions over-budget nuclear power plant under construction in Georgia that would be the first reactors built in the U.S. since 1978.

The current federal tax credit for the Vogtle nuclear plant will phase out in 2020. An extension to the credit was taken out of the final GOP tax plan, but lawmakers are expected to revisit the issue, The New York Times reports.

After years of cost overruns and delays, Georgia’s Public Service Commission approved the project’s continued construction Thursday. Vogtle’s new reactors are expected to be fully operational by 2022, five years past the original completion date and $9 billion more than first estimated, Greentech Media reports. (RELATED: Georgia OKs Further Construction On Cash-Strapped Nuclear Power Projects)

Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company and overseeing the construction of the Vogtle reactors, presented a budget request to the Public Service Commission, which the commission deemed “reasonable.”

“I believe these conditions are reasonable based on the filings and the discussions. I believe the fuel diversity and the long term benefit that we will receive over the life of this project was the overriding factor in the Commission’s decision today,” Chairman Stan Wise said in a statement.

The commission agreed to continued construction under the condition Georgia Power lowered its revenue requirement by $1.7 billion over the lifetime of the new reactors.

The plant’s costly delays will likely result in increased costs, set by state regulators, for ratepayers, according to TheNYT.

“Most people have to pay for their mistakes, but Georgia Power is still profiting from theirs,” Southern Environmental Law Center senior attorney Kurt Ebersbach told TheNYT.

Vogtle’s completion, however, is necessary for a struggling nuclear industry to prove it can survive in a highly competitive energy market. Natural gas, coal and renewables are all seeing increased investment from different sectors.

The project’s supporters say canceling the project now, after Georgians have already paid billions into it, would be worse than completing the reactors. Despite the setbacks, the project is still financially viable, depending on the future price of natural gas, Greentech Media reports.

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