After a number of meetings and several deadline delays, the construction of the controversial Plant Vogtle will continue. Oglethorpe Power voted yes on Wednesday to keep building the nuclear plant. A 90 percent agreement between the project's co-owners was needed to continue construction of the plant. The vote was triggered after projected costs to complete Vogtle skyrocketed by $2.3 billion.
Georgia Power, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities all gave the project a thumbs up before the original deadline of Monday evening. In a joint statement, the utilities praised the decision.
“We are all pleased to have reached an agreement and to move forward with the construction of Vogtle Units 3 & 4 which is critical to Georgia’s energy future,” the co-owners said in a statmeent. “While there have been and will be challenges throughout this process, we remain committed to a constructive relationship with each other and are focused on reducing project risk and fulfilling our commitment to our member-consumers.”
Oglethorpe gave a conditional yes Monday night but asked for a cost cap. That led to a number of deadline extensions and closed door meetings between the utilities. Following the announcement of Oglethorpe's succes, Gov. Nathan Deal commended the decision on Twitter. "This project will ensure that Georgia citizens have a long-term, affordable and sustainable energy source, while also creating thousands of jobs," Deal tweeted. Plant Vogtle is years behind schedule and has run billions of dollars over budget. Total costs of the project is north of $20 billion. Before the utilities voted, a group of 20 bipartisan Georgia legislators sent the co-owners a letter asking them to cap costs on the project. JEA, a utility located in Jacksonville, Florida, also filed suit against MEAG saying costs of the project have grown too much to be beneficial to its customers. Following the vote, JEA released a statement addressing the high costs of construction.
"This decision saddles ratepayers with the burden of funding the project’s more than $30 billion price tag," the company said in a statement. "There is no guarantee that this amount will not continue to increase, so JEA will continue to act in finding a resolution that protects the interest of ratepayers in Georgia, Alabama and northeast Florida first.”
The project is expected to be completed in 2021.