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Plant Vogtle partners get first $300 million “guarantee” payment

Georgia Power said it and its partners in Plant Vogtle received $300 million from Toshiba Corp. Monday, the first installment of almost $3.7 billion aimed at covering cost overruns at the troubled project.

The Japanese conglomerate promised to pay $3.68 billion in installments after subsidiary Westinghouse Corp., formerly a key contractor at Plant Vogtle, filed bankruptcy in March. Projected costs and delays have soared since the bankruptcy; the project was already billions over budget and years behind schedule.

Georgia Power, the largest owner in the project to build two new nuclear reactors at the Plant Vogtle site near Augusta, said its share of the first installment is $137 million. The Atlanta utility owns 45.7 percent of Plant Vogtle.

“This payment is a positive indication of Toshiba’s commitment to meeting its financial obligation under the parent guarantee, which was put in place to protect Georgia electric customers as part of the original contract for the project,” Georgia Power said in a statement.

But there’s some question over whether Toshiba, which is wobbly itself, will be able to keep up with its payments under the guarantee. The last installment is to be paid in early 2021.

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Toshiba, which was hit hard by losses on Plant Vogtle construction, has warned in recent months that it may not be able to continue as a “going concern.”

Last month, the partners in a similar nuclear expansion in South Carolina that Westinghouse also worked on sold their nearly $2.2 billion worth of guarantees from Toshiba. Citibank paid $1.8 billion.

The partners, who decided to abandon the South Carolina project after Westinghouse’s bankruptcy, said the deal was aimed at avoiding the risk that Toshiba wouldn’t be able to make the payments over the next five years.

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