Feds reject JEA plan to ditch Georgia nuclear plant

JEA still responsible for billions to help pay for Plant Vogtle

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says it will not intervene in JEA’s dispute with the owners of Plant Vogtle and that JEA is still bound by its agreement to buy power from the nuclear plant still under construction.

The expansion of Plant Vogtle, a nuclear power plant near Waynesboro, Georgia, is way behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. 

JEA is on the hook for billions of dollars to help pay for that construction because, in 2008, the utility signed a contract to fund 41 percent of the construction cost and, in turn, JEA would get a good price on electricity for 20 years. The problem is that construction cost has doubled and there’s still no power coming online anytime soon. JEA is trying to get out of the deal. It has filed lawsuits and taken other measures, but so far that has not worked. JEA is still bound by the contract.

JEA was hoping to get help from the feds, but now, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says it’s not going to intervene. That means JEA is still responsible for 41 percent of the construction cost, which is now nearly $3 billion, and that could go up even more.  

JEA's Aaron Zahn has been fighting this ever since he stepped into the CEO role. In a statement Thursday, Zahn says, in part:

“While JEA has stood up for the customers of JEA, to see federal officials in Washington D.C. vote in such a manner not only sends a message that the ratepayers in Florida don’t matter, it should send shockwaves to public power around the nation. The vote clearly shows preferred support for corporate interests over customer concerns.”

More court actions are expected, with both sides planning lawsuits. For now, plan on seeing JEA pay billions. If history holds true, that means customers could see an increase in rates to pay for it. 

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Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.