Tom Fanning

Despite Huge Losses and Its own Bungling, Southern Company Wants to Complete Vogtle Plant

By Dan Zegart, crossposted from Climate Investigations Center

With Southern Company’s board voting today to green light the completion of the Vogtle nuclear power plant, the prospect that Georgia utility customers may be on the hook for many billions for a plant that may never be economically feasible becomes very real.

Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning has blamed the bankruptcy of nuclear reactor builder Westinghouse for the plant being billions over budget and years behind schedule, calling the Westinghouse collapse an unforeseeable event that caught Southern by surprise.

Tomorrow, Southern Company will recommend to the Georgia Public Service Commission that it nevertheless continue to build the project – which is only 32 percent complete after four years of construction – despite the huge and ever-increasing cost of a plant that the PSC’s own analyses indicate may never be viable commercially.

New Fraud Allegations Emerge at Troubled 'Clean Coal' Project As Southern Co. Records Multi-Billion Loss

Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning

Southern Co. is accused of fraudulently misrepresenting the prospects for its troubled “clean coal” project in Kemper County, Mississippi in several legal filings this summer.

Southern announced in late July that it was shuttering the troubled “clean coal” part of Kemper after construction ran years behind schedule and the company spent $7.5 billion on the 582 megawatt power plant — over $5 billion more than it first projected.

In a lawsuit filed today, Brett Wingo, a former Southern Company engineer, alleges he warned the company's top executives that it would not be possible to meet key construction deadlines. Management responded by retaliating against him, the complaint asserts, and Southern continued to assure investors and the public that Kemper's schedule and budget targets would be met, then blamed unpredictable factors like the weather when those goals were missed.

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