On the Scene: Southeast
In early January, Georgia Power and the other owners of the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project announced an agreement with contractors Westinghouse and CB&I that “settles all claims currently in litigation.” Additionally, the utilities noted that the settlement reaffirms the current in-service dates, currently set for June 2019 for Unit 3 and June 2020 for Unit 4. Prior to the settlement, Georgia Power and its project co-owners—Oglethorpe Power Corp., Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities—had been locked in litigation with the contractors over an estimated $900 million in disputed costs.
Georgia Power—which owns roughly 46% of the project—reported that its portion of the settlement totaled roughly $350 million. The utilities still must submit the settlement agreement to the Georgia Public Service Commission for approval. The Jan. 4 agreement came on the heels of news that Fluor Corp. had acquired CB&I’s U.S. nuclear business and Westinghouse’s announcement that it had in turn hired Fluor as a subcontractor to manage construction of both the Vogtle and V.C. Summer nuclear expansion projects.
“This settlement is extremely positive for the Vogtle expansion,” said Buzz Miller, executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power. “The project is more than halfway completed based on contractual milestones.” Meanwhile, monitors with the state of Georgia remain skeptical of the project’s construction progress. The current respective in-service target dates of June 2019 and June 2020—originally announced in January 2015—could still slip, say monitors. In late November, for example, monitors Steven D. Roetger and William R. Jacobs testified to “significant negative variance to the dates established by the contractor in January 2015.” Additionally, they noted: “The risk of additional project capital and financing costs due to additional schedule delays beyond the current forecasted delayed CODs remains a significant risk to increase project cost.”