Courtney Hanson: “Which side are you on, boys?”
The Georgia Public Service Commission last week nixed a risk sharing mechanism that would have forced Georgia Power to pay, in part, for their own failures to stay within budget on the construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. But now, the Public Service Commission has guaranteed that nothing will get in the way of Georgia Power’s profits. If the company’s construction costs go over budget, the public will pay for them.
Because the average default rate on loans for nuclear power is over 50%, Wall Street won’t fund nuclear. The American government, the beacon of financial responsibility that we all know they are, will, leaving Georgian’s a double burden to bear. A multi-billion dollar federal loan guarantee for these reactors is coming right out of our federal taxes, and any cost overages in the construction of Vogtle 3 and 4 will be added right onto our power bills. We’ve already begun to pay. Check your bill for the ‘Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery’ line - that's for nukes with a design that hasn't been approved yet. But don’t worry, Vogtle Reactors 1 and 2 only went 1,200% over budget before they finally went online in 1987 and 1989.
From their website the PSC States “The mission of the Georgia Public Service Commission is to exercise its authority and influence to ensure that consumers receive safe, reliable and reasonably priced telecommunications, transportation, electric and natural gas services from financially viable and technically competent companies.”
Perhaps the PSC is simply confused about what ‘public’ or 'safe' means. There are 2.35 million Georgia Power ratepayers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties. The company employs 900 Georgians, most of which do not see many of the benefits of the company’s financial bounty, but a select few contributed greatly to the election campaigns of current PSC commissioners.
The PSC ‘s next meeting will be August 2, 10 am, 244 Washington Street. If you’re fed up with these officials elected to serve the public, please plan to attend, if nothing else, just to ask the commissioners: Stan, Bubba, Chuck, Tim and Doug, “Which side are you on, boys?”
Courtney Hanson is Public Outreach and Communications Coordinator at Georgia WAND. She is an Atlanta activist and writer. Prior to moving to the south, she worked as a journalist in Chicago, covering education, personalities, community events, women’s issues, homelessness and poverty.