The chairman of Georgia’s utility regulators said yesterday he hopes Southern Co. finishes two half-built nuclear reactors amid the parent of the project’s main contractor signaling financial ruin.
“It just seems to be the most obvious conclusion where a completely functional nuclear plant for the next 60, 70, 80 years is the best option,” said Stan Wise, chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission.
His statement suggests it’s possible that the projects won’t be finished after Westinghouse Electric Co., which is building the reactors, filed for bankruptcy roughly two weeks ago. That loss was compounded yesterday when Westinghouse owner Toshiba Corp. reported a $4.8 billion loss tied to Plant Vogtle in Georgia and the V.C. Summer project in South Carolina.
The Japanese conglomerate had twice delayed release of its figures, and what it released was unaudited. Still, the company said in the earnings documents that Westinghouse’s bankruptcy may not be enough to save it.
“Taking into consideration of the expenditures which the company may pay related to nuclear power construction by Westinghouse Electric Co., WEC’s U.S. subsidiaries and utilities, the company’s liquidity will be significantly impacted,” Toshiba said in earnings documents posted on its website.
“For the reasons stated above, there are material events and conditions that raise the substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”
In Georgia, Wise said the five-member commission is waiting to hear from Georgia Power on what happens next. The utility is supposed to make a decision by the end of the month, unless it asks to extend the interim agreement in the name of taking more time.
Vogtle and Scana Corp.’s V.C. Summer reactors are already roughly four years behind and billions above their original budget forecasts. The financial troubles of Westinghouse and Toshiba have thrown the entire U.S. nuclear industry into doubt.
The utilities and commissions in each state have said all options are on the table. This includes stopping the projects, building one of the reactors, or converting one or both to natural gas.