Lawsuits Threaten Plant Vogtle Expansion

Lawsuits filed in Florida and Georgia Wednesday could make or break the Plant Vogtle expansion project where costs were recently estimated to have gone up significantly.

Vogtle expansionThe first lawsuit was filed at the Fourth Circuit Court of Florida by JEA, the municipal utility company of Jacksonville, Florida, which is tied to the Vogtle expansion project through a power purchased agreement (PPA) signed in 2008 with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAD), which is the owner of 22.7 percent of the expansion project underway in Waynesborow, Georgia.

JEA wants the PPA declared null and void, claiming that it never agreed to the most recent pricing arrangement that uncapped their contracted agreement and was put in place after Westinghouse Electric Corporation declared bankruptcy in March 2017.

Because it was uncapped and due to previous cost escalations, JEA’s share of the Vogtle expansion has gone from an originally expected $1.4 billion to a current estimate of $2.9 billion – a price that could still rise, given the project is not expected to be completed until 2021.

 The price of the expansion project was first estimated to be $14.8 billion, including indirect and direct costs plus financing expenses. The most current price for the two-unit project is around $30 billion.

 A report from Power Magazine says that MEAG has counter sued with a filing that would have JEA mandated to honor the PPA.

 Because of the recent price hikes, the owners of the expansion project are expected to vote on whether or not they will continue paying for it, a vote that requires 90 percent approval in order to pass. That means, all owners, save for Dalton Utilities, which owns 1.6 percent of the project, must vote to continue or the project will go down. Georgia Power owns 44.7 percent of the expansion project, while Oglethorpe Power owns 30 percent and MEAG 22.7 percent.

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