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Deadline missed again for Vogtle project decision, talks extended

A deadline to decide whether to carry on with building two AP1000 reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Nuclear Plant near Waynesboro, Ga., has been extended for the fifth time, this time to June 9.

Georgia Power Co. spokesman Jacob Hawkins said in a June 6 email that negotiations with its project partners over continuing the Vogtle expansion "are making progress" and the current interim assessment agreement's expiration has been extended to the end of the day on June 9 from June 5 after already being extended over the weekend from June 3. The negotiations previously were set to end May 12 and before that, April 28, following an initial 30-day assessment.

Spurred by the March 29 filing for bankruptcy of Vogtle's contractor Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC, Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power and its partners Oglethorpe Power Corp., Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities have been debating whether to continue or abandon the 2,220-MW expansion project. Since May 12, Georgia Power and its sister company Southern Nuclear Operating Co. have assumed project management responsibilities for the unfinished reactors, which are four years behind schedule and billions over the original $16 billion budget.

The financial woes for Toshiba Corp.'s majority-owned Westinghouse stem from Vogtle and a similar expansion project in South Carolina, which have incurred $6.3 billion in combined cost overruns. Westinghouse estimates it will cost an additional $2.5 billion to complete the Vogtle reactors, which in February had their in-service dates pushed back to December 2019 and September 2020.

Georgia Power and its partners have agreed to cap Toshiba's guarantees to about $3.6 billion of Vogtle's costs. Bechtel Corp. and Fluor Corp., a subcontractor at Vogtle, reportedly have made competing bids to take over the construction.