Moody’s sour view of Georgia Power’s vow to keep plugging at Plant Vogtle

Plant Vogtle construction site in 2016. Johnny Edwards, jedwards@ajc.com

The governor may applaud the move, and some members of the state Public Service Commission may be in favor, but a top ratings firm has issued a sour view of Georgia Power’s recommendation that it be allowed to continue construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle.

Read the entire note from Moody’s Investor Service here. Some excerpts:

“If approved by state regulators, continuation of the project will increase the utility’s business and operating risk profile because total costs are open ended and because Georgia Power’s parent company will be assuming construction risk on its balance sheet….”

Moody’s wonders whether the PSC will allow Georgia Power to count on continued advance payments from customers:

“While recovery of such costs from customers would be credit positive, the conditions to transfer all of these costs to customers may not be approved.

“By pursuing both new nuclear units, Georgia Power’s business risk will increase materially, net of any mitigation associated with the above referenced conditions. A key risk going forward is a lack of a fixed price contract….”

The ratings agency also questions whether the investment alliance behind the project can hold together:

“We incorporate a view that the Vogtle project is likely to exceed the roughly $19 billion cost estimate (plus financing costs), and that additional delays beyond the November 2021/2022 target operational dates are still a possibility.

“Finally, we note that the Vogtle co-owners, Oglethorpe Power Corporation, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power) and the City of Dalton are also feeling the financial and consumer pressures of pursuing a new generating project that will cost in excess of $12,000 per kw-capacity (offset by the funds received under the Toshiba guarantee), which is materially higher than alternative sources of generation. Maintaining a unified ownership consortium is critical to completing the project.”

The AJC’s Russell Grantham has more details here.  This morning, PSC member Tim Echols was on WGAU (1340AM) with Tim Bryant, who kindly sent us some of the sound. “There is no good choice here,” Echols begins:

And if you like, scroll through the entire Moody’s report here:

***

The state Public Service Commission has until February to approve the recommendation to proceed on the new nuclear plants – now the only new nuclear project underway in the nation. But it’s likely to figure into the 2018 election cycle.

John Noel, a former Democratic state lawmaker who wants to challenge incumbent PSC member Chuck Eaton, a Republican, sent out a statement that included this:

“It marks a dark day in a series of days where families and businesses have now paid billions of dollars for an unneeded and ridiculously expensive power plant. I remember well Republican Commissioner Bobby Baker’s vote against this project and wonder where courage on the commission has gone.”

***

Sally Yates, the acting U.S. attorney general fired by President Donald Trump in January, may have just gotten her first mention as a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2020. Mike Allen at Axios put the Atlanta attorney at the bottom of a list of groupings, but described her thusly: “Someone Trump would have no idea what to do with, and who’d win women with authenticity and Southern charm.”

***

If you work for the CDC or FAA in Atlanta, and your wallet feels a little more empty than usual this morning, there’s a reason. President Donald Trump has notified U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., that he’s cutting a proposed pay raise for civilian government workers from 1.9 percent to 1.4 percent, according to The Hill newspaper.

***

The Trump administration is slashing spending on advertising and promotion for enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, from $100 million spent by the Obama administration to $10 million, according to the New York Times. Critics charge the move is an attempt to sabotage the health care law. Trump administration officials say “diminishing returns” from advertising are responsible.

***

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell , told constituents listening on a “telephone town hall” Wednesday night that she opposes birthright citizenship that courts have long held is conferred by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “I think on immigration we have to move forward in a stepwise way. I do not support birthright citizenship, No. 1. No. 2, I’m not supportive of amnesty,” Handel said during a telephone town hall on Wednesday night.

Handel also joined the ranks of congressional Republicans speaking critically of President Donald Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. She suggested the move was premature. “I guess what concerns me there is that the court system or the court process has not even had an opportunity to move forward and the case is still on appeal,” she said.

***

Georgia has joined a coalition of states backing a New Mexico town’s fight to display a Ten Commandments monument on city property. Attorney General Chris Carr has filed an amicus brief supporting the city of Bloomfield’s case because the U.S. Supreme Court needs to issue “clear guidance” on historical displays. The Daily Report has the backstory.

As for us? We’re waiting for the day a local government fights to post the Beatitudes.

***

A fifth Democrat, Forsyth County resident Melissa Davis, has entered the race to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District next year, the Forsyth County News reports.

***

If you read one thing over this long Labor Day weekend, allow us to recommend a deep Bloomberg dive into the finances of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser. A taste:

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, wakes up each morning to a growing problem that will not go away. His family’s real estate business, Kushner Cos., owes hundreds of millions of dollars on a 41-story office building on Fifth Avenue. It has failed to secure foreign investors, despite an extensive search, and its resources are more limited than generally understood. As a result, the company faces significant challenges.

 

Reader Comments 1

6 comments
Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Only God Her/Him-self has the skill and knowledge to safely operate a nuclear power plant.


Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Why not?  Georgia Power has little skin in the game!  They can keep charging the ratepayers for any overruns, any extra time.  In fact, it is their benefit to do so!  The equation would be quite different if Georgia Power were not guaranteed the healthy profit they are currently given.


The PSC should be called something else.  The public and its needs are NOT served!

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  1. […] I like the “clean” part, which avoids carbon emissions many scientists have blamed for worsening climate change. But according to ratings agency Moody’s, the project’s cost per kilowatt of capacity is “materially higher than alternative sources of generation.” […]

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