Make us your home page
Instagram

Expert says price of Georgia power plant not competitive

ATLANTA — If Georgia was starting from scratch, it could not financially justify the nuclear power plant now under construction.

That conclusion from Georgia's state utility regulators bluntly illustrates how an anticipated boom in nuclear power went bust as natural gas prices plummeted, the economy fell into a severe recession and construction proved pricier than expected.

The latest calculations show that finishing the two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia by Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power is the cheapest financial option. But the numbers are a warning for other utilities considering new construction any time soon.

The figures came in a report filed Friday by Philip Hayet, a consultant who monitors the economics of the nuclear plant for Georgia's Public Service Commission.

Hayet said the nuclear plant is no longer economic compared to building gas-fired plants when factoring in total project costs, estimated fuel prices and the potential that the U.S. government may tax carbon emissions.

"If a decision had to be made today to build a new nuclear project, it would not be justified on the basis of these results," Hayet said.

The development is not surprising given recent trends. With the massive growth in the country's natural gas supply, utilities across the country have canceled or indefinitely delayed new nuclear plants and even shuttered existing ones.

Duke Energy earlier this month halted plans in Florida to build its proposed Levy County nuclear plant, though the utility is still seeking a license. Florida Power & Light, the state's largest utility, also is seeking a license to build two new reactors south of Miami.

But other than the Georgia reactors and a similar project in South Carolina — both already under construction — the prospects for any more new nuclear plants in the near future appear dim.

"The likelihood of someone else going ahead with a new nuclear plant today is very low indeed," said Deutsche Bank analyst Jonathan Arnold.

A Tampa Bay Times investigation in May reached the same conclusion after comparing the cost of the proposed Levy project with an equivalent natural gas facility. Two months later, Duke announced it would cancel the Levy project as part of a settlement agreement over its failed nuclear ambitions in Florida.

The utility had hoped to upgrade and extend the life of its now broken and shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant as well as build the Levy facility. The two failed projects ran up a tab of $5 billion. Customers are on the hook for about $3.2 billion of the spending.

Times staff writer Ivan Penn contributed to this report.

Expert says price of Georgia power plant not competitive 08/13/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 8:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena

    Tourism

    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  2. Rick Scott appoints longtime ally Jimmy Patronis as Florida CFO

    State Roundup
    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  5. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.

    Corporate

    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.