A $19bn nuclear power plant in the US state of Georgia has been given a reprieve after its biggest investor recommended the troubled project should be completed. Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company, one of the biggest US electricity generators, said on Thursday it wanted to press ahead with construction of Plant Vogtle, despite work running years late and being billions of dollars over budget. The decision provides a lifeline for the only new nuclear plant still being built in the US after work was suspended last month on the unfinished VC Summer power station in South Carolina. Both projects were supposed to herald a renaissance for nuclear power in the US — and for their technology supplier, Westinghouse — but have instead become symbols of the financial and technological problems blighting the industry globally.
Georgia Power said it had concluded that completing the two reactors at Vogtle “represents the most economic choice for customers” after a review which weighed the cost of continuing against those of scrapping the project. Vogtle and VC Summer were intended as showcases for Westinghouse’s new AP1000 reactors but cost overruns tipped the company into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March and triggered a financial crisis at its Japanese parent Toshiba. Georgia Power said it would need to inject an extra $1.4bn to complete Vogtle on top of the $5.68bn already budgeted by the company for its 45.7 per cent share of the plant. Toshiba in June agreed to contribute $3.68bn to help save the project, the total cost of which is now expected to reach about $19bn. Completion of the first reactor is expected by November 2021 and the second a year later, according to the latest revised timetable. Th