Cattle graze near the cooling towers for Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Ga., near Augusta. (Erik Lesser/Zuma Press/TNS)

Southern Company: Plant Vogtle price rises to $25B

The full price of expanding Plant Vogtle has swelled to more than $25 billion and the project has slipped further behind schedule in the wake of a key contractor’s bankruptcy, according to estimates disclosed Wednesday by Southern Company.

The Atlanta utility hasn’t made a decision about whether the troubled nuclear expansion should continue.

But in comments during a conference call with investors, Southern CEO Tom Fanning indicated he leans toward recommending to state regulators that it be completed.

“From a lot of scenarios, going forward with nuclear may make sense,” Fanning said.

Southern, parent of Vogtle operator Georgia Power, said the earliest date for new reactors to go on line is now 2021, more than a year later than the previous target date. The $25 billion pricetag is nearly double the original forecast of about $14 billion to add two reactors to the two already at Vogtle.

Also Wednesday, Southern posted a $1.4 billion loss in the second quarter after writing off more than $3 billion on another troubled project, its “clean coal” plant in Mississippi.

Southern faced a shock earlier this week when two South Carolina utilities decided to curtail a nuclear project similar to the Vogtle expansion, in which Georgia Power is the largest partner.

But two members of the Georgia Public Service Commission told the AJC they see the South Carolina project as different from Vogtle, and Fanning echoed that contention.

Georgia Power residential customers already are paying financing costs of the Vogtle expansion, with the ultimate effect of construction costs on bills yet unclear.

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