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FERC Rules to Deny Customers a Voice in Nuclear Expansion Project
Jacksonville, FL - Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied JEA’s effort to reduce its customers’ utility bills because of an out-of-control, over-budget and much delayed project, known as Plant Vogtle, located in Georgia. JEA has contracted with Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power) to purchase power from the project. The vote was 4-0 on consent.
JEA is the only stakeholder in this bloated project attempting to protect its ratepayers from higher utility bills. “While JEA has stood up for the customers of JEA, to see federal officials in Washington D.C. vote in such a manner not only sends a message that the ratepayers in Florida don’t matter, it should send shockwaves to public power around the nation. The vote clearly shows a preferred support for corporate interests over customer concerns.” said JEA CEO and Managing Director Aaron Zahn. “Today, JEA customers were denied a just and reasonable hearing for their desire for cheaper sources of cleaner power – which is available to all of JEA customers currently bound by this failed project.” When and if completed, the expensive energy from the Plant Vogtle nuclear facility is expected to add significant cost to each JEA ratepayers’ electric utility bill.
JEA entered into the power purchase agreement in 2008. The power provided under the agreement was to be from two new Plant Vogtle units that would provide power to JEA customers in addition to ratepayers across Georgia beginning in April 2016. The project was expected to cost $9.5 billion in direct costs ($14.8 billion total, including indirect and financing costs). The total cost of the portion attributable to JEA was $1.4 billion. Under the 2008 construction contract, the project cost was capable of reasonable predictability and estimation.
Today however, the JEA’s total cost-to-completion estimates have increased to more than $30 billion, with no guarantees that costs will not grow beyond that, and with a newly-delayed projected completion date of November 2021. A new unlimited cost-plus reimbursement agreement was implemented without JEA’s approval in June 2017 after the project’s initial general contractor, Westinghouse, declared bankruptcy. JEA thus far has unsuccessfully opposed continued construction of project of the nuclear facility using a replacement contractor because the cost over runs have increased JEA’s portion of the total project cost to more than $2.9 billion – an uncapped and rising amount.
JEA is the largest community-owned electric utility in Florida and one of the largest water and sewer utilities in the nation providing electric, water and sewer service to residents and businesses in northeast Florida.