Feds Say No To JEA's Bid To Get Out Of Expensive Nuclear Deal

Feb 21, 2019

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) denied JEA’s attempt Thursday to get out of the project Vogtle nuclear deal, according to the city owned Jacksonville utility.

JEA has been trying to separate itself from the nuclear expansion project in Georgia that has been running billions of dollars over budget.

“The vote clearly shows a preferred support for corporate interests over customer concerns,” said JEA CEO and Managing Director Aaron Zahn in an email to WJCT News.

JEA entered into the power purchase agreement with Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia in 2008. At the time, JEA’s portion of the project was expected to cost $1.4 billion but the cost over runs that JEA must absorb now total $2.9 billion, and JEA expects that uncapped liability to continue rising.

The Vogtle nuclear power plant cost overruns are also impacting the City of Jacksonville’s finances.

The credit giant Moody’s downgraded both the city’s and JEA’s credit rating in October. The downgrade was triggered by a JEA lawsuit attempting to get out of the deal. 

JEA says the plant’s total cost-to-completion estimates have increased to more than $30 billion, with no guarantees that costs will not grow beyond that, and with a newly-delayed projected completion date of November 2021.

“Today, JEA customers were denied a just and reasonable hearing for their desire for cheaper sources of cleaner power – which is available to all of JEA customers currently bound by this failed project,” said Zahn.  

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.