As the dust from Westinghouse’s recent bankruptcy filing begins to settle, Georgia Power has reached a deal to take over work at its Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project when the current engineering, procurement, and construction contract on the project ends.
The announcement of the intended transfer of management duties came May 12, as an interim assessment agreement (IAA) between the two parties was due to expire. The agreement has been extended to June 3, giving the companies time to finalize the new service agreement and get required approvals.
The specifics of exactly when Georgia Power and fellow Southern Co. subsidiary Southern Nuclear will take over management of the project are not entirely certain. According to a Georgia Power press release, the transfer will occur “once the current engineering, procurement and construction contract is rejected in Westinghouse’s bankruptcy proceeding.”
Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy March 29, citing financial difficulties resulting from two AP1000 reactor projects—Plant Vogtle, and SCANA Corp.’s V.C. Summer Project in South Carolina.
Following the bankruptcy announcement Georgia Power and SCANA Corp. subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (SCE&G) entered into IAAs, allowing work to continue on the projects while they decided what to do.
SCE&G has not yet made an announcement and appears to be still weighing its options, though that IAA does not expire until June 26.
Work at Plant Vogtle will carry on while Georgia Power works to finalize the new service agreement. “During this time, work will continue at the site and an orderly transition of project management will begin. As previously stated, the company will take all actions necessary to hold Westinghouse and Toshiba accountable for their financial obligations,” the release says.
However, Georgia Power’s short statement on the new agreement offered little information about the long-term future of the project. “Georgia Power will continue work to complete its full-scale schedule and cost-to-complete analysis and work with the project Co-owners (Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities) and the Georgia Public Service Commission to determine the best path forward for customers,” the release says.
It remains possible the Georgia Power may abandon the project altogether.
The Westinghouse Bankruptcy adds to a long list of problems with the Vogtle project. The project is currently more than $3 billion over budget and more than three years behind schedule. According to the most recent estimates by Westinghouse, the plants should come online in December 2019 and September 2020. However, project co-owner Oglethorpe Power Corp has indicated that those dates “do not appear to be achievable.”
—Abby L. Harvey is a POWER reporter.