Thursday, January 18, 2018
Business

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.

Comments
Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.Members of the business community, elected officials and executives with Metro Development Group and Crystal L...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Consumer agency to spend rainy day funds

NEW YORK — The Trump-appointed acting director of the federal government’s consumer watchdog agency requested zero dollars of funding for its second-quarter budget, saying he intends to first spend down the agency’s rainy day fund. In a letter to the...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

To no one’s surprise, Amazon on Thursday released its list of location finalists for its second headquarters, and neither Tampa nor St. Petersburg was on it."We knew it was going to be a long shot and a difficult road," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said....
Updated: 6 hours ago
Trump tweets create confusion on GOP plan to avert shutdown; Ryan tries to calm Republicans

Trump tweets create confusion on GOP plan to avert shutdown; Ryan tries to calm Republicans

WASHINGTON — The White House said Thursday that President Donald Trump supports a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown, as eroding support for the measure among Senate Democrats and some Republicans increased the prospects of a clo...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Deal clears way for Oldsmar townhomes

OLDSMAR — The City Council voted 4-1 last month in favor of approving a development agreement for a 50-unit townhome community on a nearly 4-acre parcel on St. Petersburg Drive. According to the terms of the agreement, Oldsmar Towns LLC will build a ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

If there’s one word to describe the buyers of Tampa Bay’s 25 priciest homes in 2017 it’s this: eclectic. As in previous years, the group included doctors, lawyers and professional sports figures — three of the homes were purc...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

When Vision ACE Hardware opened in Oldsmar last November, the very first customer came in looking for a light bulb that he couldn’t find anywhere else."We had that lightbulb," said Stone Ackroyd, marketing manager. "That’s what ACE does. We have thos...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

LUTZ — Mellow Mushroom opened the doors to its new location this week in Wesley Chapel.This is the third location for owner Rob Johnson, who opened the Mellow Mushroom in Brandon 12 years ago, and then expanded to Clearwater.Johnson began looking at ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Sweets, savories and surprises at Jules’ Place in southeast Seminole Heights

Sweets, savories and surprises at Jules’ Place in southeast Seminole Heights

Tampa native Julie Harris worked for the City of Tampa for 22 years, under four mayoral administrations, until retiring as director of communications and neighborhood liaison in 2003.Her familiarity with Southeast Seminole Heights and countless conta...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Popular Spanish cuisine restaurant joins Hyde Park food scene

Popular Spanish cuisine restaurant joins Hyde Park food scene

HYDE PARK—Featuring popular Spanish cuisine, Bulla Gastrobar compliments Soho and Hyde Park’s vibrant restaurant scene offering an authentic Madrid-inspired tapas dining experience to be shared among friends for brunch, lunch and dinner. "Tampa is gr...
Updated: 10 hours ago