Statement: Cost overruns at Georgia nuclear reactors offer cautionary tale

Media Contacts

ATLANTA – The only nuclear reactors under construction in the United States are now projected to cost more than $30 billion — and the price tag for Plant Vogtle near Augusta, Georgia, doesn’t even include $3.68 billion that the project’s original contractor paid to the owners after going bankrupt.

The $34 billion total is $20 billion more than the original cost estimate of $14 billion. The two reactors under construction are now more than five years behind schedule. Contractor delays, rework projects, the inability to complete tasks on time and the bankruptcy of reactor designer Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC have more than doubled the project’s costs.

Customers of Georgia Power, which owns 46% of the project, are already paying a fee that not only covers a portion of Vogtle’s financing costs, but also feeds the utility company’s profits on the project. The average residential Georgia Power customer will have paid more than $850 in such fees before the project ever delivers power to customers.

In response to the Plant Vogtle debacle, experts from Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center, U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Environment America Research & Policy Center released the following statements:

Environment Georgia Research & Policy Center’s State Director Jennette Gayer said:

“This exercise in futility is playing out and costing our neighbors big bucks while Georgia doesn’t even need nuclear power. Georgia has been the seventh-fastest growing state for solar power since 2011. Imagine where we would be now if we’d spent the $30 billion we’ve poured into Plant Vogtle into saving energy and getting more of it from truly clean sources. Even a decade ago, it was clear that nuclear power was too slow and too expensive to be our best response to the climate crisis, and that’s even more true today. “

U.S.PIRG Education Fund’s Consumer Watchdog Teresa Murray said:

“The cost overruns and delays at Plant Vogtle should be a cautionary tale to the rest of the country when it comes to building new nuclear reactors. If a project at my house cost more than double the budget and was a half-decade behind schedule, I’d never want to go through that again. Georgia ratepayers have already dished out hundreds of dollars for this misguided project, and electrons aren’t even flowing. Evidence shows that there are cheaper, cleaner and safer ways to keep the lights on than building new nuclear plants.”  

Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Senior Director of the Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy Johanna Neumann said:

“Harnessing America’s renewable energy sources is more efficient and affordable than ever. Investing in energy efficiency remains the cheapest and fastest way to meet our energy needs, and America has vast untapped solar and wind potential. It’s time to stop throwing good money after bad. Regulators and policy makers should put in place goals and drive action toward powering our future with 100% renewable energy.”