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Report: Bechtel, Fluor preparing bids for Vogtle construction

Bechtel Corp. and Fluor Corp. are reportedly preparing competing bids to take over construction of the expansion project at the troubled Alvin W. Vogtle Nuclear Plant.

The plant's majority owner, Georgia Power Co., said May 12 that it and Southern Nuclear Operating Co. will take over construction from bankrupt Toshiba Corp. subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC. But it is not clear whether work will continue after an interim assessment agreement expires June 3, or who will keep construction going if the agreement is extended for a third time or made permanent.

Bechtel is preparing an estimate for how much its takeover would cost and will conclude those calculations by August, Bloomberg reported May 25. Fluor, already a subcontractor at Vogtle, is also preparing its own estimate.

Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins told Bloomberg that it and the three other Vogtle owners — Oglethorpe Power Corp., Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and Dalton Utilities — are also preparing their own estimate.

Oglethorpe President and CEO Mike Smith said on a May 17 earnings call that he would like to see the transfer of project management "sooner rather than later," but he did not know when the transfer would actually occur.

Bechtel's self-imposed August deadline goes two months beyond the interim assessment agreement's June 3 expiration. Tom Fanning, the chairman, president and CEO of Southern Co., told shareholders May 24 that his subsidiaries, Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear, will need until August or "late summer" to complete an evaluation of whether they will pursue completion or abandonment of Vogtle.

"I'm not pleased with [Fanning's] timeline presented," Stan Wise, chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission, told Bloomberg.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fanning said cost assessments on continuing construction are taking longer than expected. Smith said this process is ongoing.

"In any event, the decision making needs to be based on complete information regarding the schedule, estimate-complete data and parent guarantee recovery, and needs to be in the best interest of all Georgia consumers that we represent and serve," Smith said. "[T]here are clearly differences in rate treatments and public service commission decision-making and things like that that are all going to have to factor into the ultimate support of all of the co-owners for the completion of the project."