By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
of Georgia Power called to answer the Sentinel’s questions about the Nuclear
Construction Cost Recovery Tariff (NCCR) currently being questioned by some
Dade citizens (see accompanying article).
confirmed that the tariff was designed to allow Georgia Power to recover from
ratepayers interest costs related to the construction of Plant Vogtle 3 and 4,
two new nuclear units the utility company is adding to its existing reactors at
its generating facility near Augusta, while they are being built rather than
after they come online.
financial costs about $330 million, so our customers benefit by not having
costs passed along to them,” said Williams. “You’re avoiding paying interest on
interest, and things like that.” This impacts the total cost of the plant, he
said, helping to keep rates low.
confirmed that NCCR is due to end in 2017, when the two new units are scheduled
to start up. And he said, acknowledging well-publicized overruns in
construction costs, that Georgia Power would delay asking ratepayers for more
money for the project until then. “We have decided to defer any request for
increasing the certified cost until Unit 3 goes online, which is going to be
2017,” he said.
cost means budgeted cost as approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission
(PSC), which regulates the industry. Georgia Power goes before the PSC every
six months to review project costs and seek approval for changes, said
units were originally certified at $6.1 billion, but Georgia Power was later
reported to have asked for an increase of $737 million, and to have scheduled
hearings on how much could be passed on to ratepayers. Now that, in any case,
is on hold, said Williams.
As to whether
Dade County in specific receives electricity generated at Vogtle, Williams said
Georgia Power doesn’t differentiate: All power, however generated, goes into
the same pot for purposes of both delivery and billing, and customers statewide
are billed the same charges.
And as to
whether nuclear power is a viable generating choice going forward, Williams
said yes, Georgia Power believes in a diversified generating mix but considers
nuclear an important component of that.
“It’s reliable. These units are going to last 60 years or more,” he
said. “Once you get the units built, they’re cheaper to run than other kinds of
plants. Fuel costs are a lot more stable. There’s no carbon monoxide emissions
from nuclear plants.”
But he said
Georgia Power is also in the process of adding nearly 1000 megawatts of solar
generation. “We are diversifying our generating portfolio across the board,” he