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. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  2. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]
  3. Amazon receives 238 proposals from places eager to become its 2nd headquarters

    Business

    NEW YORK — Amazon said Monday that it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in the United States, Canada and Mexico hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters.

    Earlier this month, an Amazon employee gives her dog a biscuit as the pair head into a company building, where dogs are welcome, in Seattle. Amazon says it received 238 proposals from cities and regions hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters. 
[AP Photo/Elaine Thompson]
  4. Target says customers want it to pause the Christmas creep

    Retail

    NEW YORK — Target says customers want it to pause the "Christmas creep." It says it wants to be more in tune with customers' mindset, so it plans to ease in holiday promotions this year while better recognizing Thanksgiving.

     Target says customers want it to pause the "Christmas creep." It says it wants to be more in tune with customers' mindset, so it plans to ease in holiday promotions this year while better recognizing Thanksgiving. This is Target's new store in Manhattan's Herald Square that opened last week. 
[Kavita Kumar/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS]
  5. Tampa's Walter Investment Management restructuring, could file for bankruptcy

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Tampa-based Walter Investment Management Corp. is restructuring to cut down some of the mortgage firm's $700 million debt, Walter announced Friday night. The firm, according to its investor relations page, focuses on subprime and "other credit-challenged" mortgages.

    Walter Investment Management is restructuring to reduce its $700 million debt, the company announced late Friday. Pictured is Anthony Renzi. CEO. | [Courtesy of LinkedIn]