In February 2010, the Department of Energy (DOE) conditionally offered Southern Company and its partners a total of $8.33 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to build two nuclear reactors in Georgia, but the award has yet to be finalized. Since the project’s inception, it has encountered substantial construction delays and cost increases causing the outlook on every partner’s credit rating to be changed to ‘negative’ and/or the credit ratings to be downgraded outright by at least one of the top financial ratings agencies. During the 1980s, Southern Company experienced massive cost overruns while constructing the first two reactors at Plant Vogtle. Original estimates for Plant Vogtle reactors 1&2 were under $1 billion each, but final costs skyrocketed to nearly $9 billion.
According to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the Department of Energy and project partners have struggled to reach an agreement on final terms of the loan guarantee. Taxpayers for Common Sense is concerned that these extended closed door negotiations have allowed project partners to craft a deal that heavily benefits them while simultaneously exposing taxpayers to even greater risk.
Below is a timeline detailing project cost increases, delays, loan guarantee agreement extensions, technical problems, federal licensing benchmarks, the release of federal reports, credit downgrades, and general project updates.