Monday, May 3, 2010

Nation's Newest Nuclear Reactors in Jeopardy

From my friends at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Georgia Public Service Commission Acted Illegally in Approving Georgia Power’s Plan to Build New Nuclear Reactors at Plant Vogtle

Atlanta, Ga. – Today, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy won its lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court that aimed to protect Georgians from unfair utility costs in connection with the proposed construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Georgia. The Court found that the Georgia Public Service Commission acted illegally in violation of Georgia state law. The Commission’s approval last year during the certification process for the proposed new Vogtle reactors is now in jeopardy.

“We applaud the Judge’s decision and continue to find it incredible that the Georgia Public Service Commission would put $14 billion of ratepayer money at risk on this project without properly documenting the factual basis behind this high risk decision,” said Stephen Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “This ruling spotlights the ongoing incestuous relationship between the Commission and Georgia Power and highlights the regulatory breakdown and blatant lack of consumer protection.”

At today’s hearing, Judge Wendy Shoob heard Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s (SACE) allegation that the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) erred as a matter of law by failing to make findings of fact and conclusions of law as required. Specifically, the group alleged that the PSC did not provide the required written justifications for its findings that would “afford an intelligent review” by the courts. The PSC instead relied on conclusory statements void of any reasoning. The Court ruled in favor of SACE and found that the PSC acted illegally in violation of Georgia state law by failing to make all appropriate findings and to support those findings with a concise and explicit statement of the facts.

“Among many other issues, the PSC needed to explain why they thought this was a prudent technology when this troubled reactor design, Westinghouse’s AP1000, has never even been built anywhere in the world before,” commented Robert Smiles, co-counsel for SACE. “And the Court found that the PSC didn’t properly explain.”

“Like the devastating oil disaster unfolding in the Gulf, decision makers that support questionable practices must be scrutinized in order for the public to be properly protected,” said Michael Carvalho, co-counsel for SACE. “Fortunately, with the Court’s decision that happened today here in Georgia.”

Today’s ruling also raises further concerns over the Obama Administration’s controversial decision in February to award an $8.3 billion taxpayer-financed conditional loan guarantee for Southern Company’s proposed Vogtle project, the first to be offered one in the country. The utility has 90 days to accept and recently requested a 30-day extension on making a decision.

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