Budget deal hands Vogtle long-awaited lifeline

Plant Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia.
Plant Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia.

The two-year budget agreement unveiled by congressional leaders just before midnight on Wednesday includes some welcome news for the companies behind Georgia’s embattled nuclear project at Plant Vogtle.

The legislation includes long-sought language extending a previously-promised nuclear production tax credit. In short, the provision would guarantee the project roughly $800 million in federal tax credits.

The federal money represents a lifeline of sorts for the companies behind the more than $23 billion nuclear expansion project near Augusta. Georgia utility regulators have conditioned their approval on Congress approving the extra money.

Industry lobbyists and members of the state's congressional delegation have been angling lawmakers to pass a version of the legislation for the better part of a year, prompting significant heartburn in Georgia as stakeholders waited for news from Washington.

Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who quarterbacked efforts to advance the language in the Senate, said he was "very pleased" that the budget agreement included the nuclear language.

“I look forward to it passing the Senate today,” he said Thursday morning.

Construction of Vogtle’s third and fourth reactors has been marred by cost overruns and delays over the last several years that threaten the viability of the project.

The bill text does not specifically mention Vogtle, but the project would be the provision’s only beneficiary because it is the last remaining nuclear project under construction in the U.S.. Vogtle’s operators would only receive the credits after the new units enter into full operation.

Read more: Two-year budget agreement includes multiple Georgia goodies

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