Jacksonville’s public utility JEA and Georgia’s Municipal Electric Authority are at loggerheads over the future of the $27 billion Plant Vogtle, with lawsuits filed by each side.
JEA wants out of the deal, and went so far as to negotiate better terms for MEAG with an alternative power vendor while also agreeing to pay “sunk costs” on the agreement.
Despite this, the Board of MEAG Power voted Monday unanimously to continue construction of Plant Vogtle Units 3 & 4.
Co-owners Georgia Power and the City of Dalton had previously voted to move forward.
The other co-owner, Oglethorpe Power, has not voted yet but does not fear unmanageable cost impacts from the project, per an August news release.
“The need to adjust OPC’s budget to complete Plant Vogtle 3 and 4 to account for the recently announced increases will be muted for OPC and its member EMCs, due to a conservative contingency that we embedded in our existing budget of $7.0 billion,” said OPC President and CEO Mike Smith.
JEA has invoked emotional appeals in its attempt to escape the deal, including mentioning that families in poverty can’t afford to pay higher rates because of the Plant Vogtle deal.
The utility is on a negative credit watch from Standard & Poor’s.
“In our view, JEA’s assertions that its board acted beyond the scope of its authority raises questions about the quality of the utility’s internal controls,” S&P analyst David Bodek said, according to the Florida Times-Union.
“In our opinion, the utility’s legal claims seeking to repudiate the board’s actions after a decade call into question the utility’s willingness to meet its contractual financial obligations.”
Estimated completion dates of the new nuclear units remain Nov. 2021 for Unit 3, and Nov. 2022 for Unit 4.