PSC staff moves to strike parts of Ga. Power’s report on Vogtle

[private]Public Service Commission staffers are asking that some statements Georgia Power filed in support of the Plant Vogtle nuclear project be stricken from the official PSC record because they amount to hearsay evidence.

The staffers are focusing on a report filed by Georgia Power that includes statements allegedly made by its partners in support of the Vogtle project.

“The Co-Owners [partners] have not filed testimony in this proceeding and Georgia Power has not sponsored any Co-Owner witnesses, and the statements contained in the Report and incorporated into the testimony are inadmissible hearsay and should be stricken,” said staff attorney Jeff Stair and Assistant Attorney General Dan Walsh.

“Admission of the statements would unfairly prejudice staff’s case because staff would be denied the ability to conduct a full and sifting cross-examination under oath,” Walsh and Stair added. “Staff respectfully urges the Commission to strike the statements . . . as inadmissible hearsay.”

The PSC staff’s request goes to an important part of the case that Georgia Power is trying to make to the commission: that the Vogtle nuclear project should be continued even though it is nearly $4 billion over budget and four years behind schedule.

Georgia Power owns a 45.7 percent share of the two Vogtle reactors, while Oglethorpe Power owns a 30 percent share, MEAG Power 22.7 percent, and the City of Dalton 1.6 percent.

Georgia Power, which is now managing the massive construction project, is the only one of those entities regulated by the PSC, but any PSC decision on the future of Vogtle would also have an impact on the partners.

A crucial question yet to be answered is whether the PSC will rule that any of the cost overruns on the Vogtle project are “imprudent” and therefore cannot be passed along to customers in the form of higher rates.

Georgia Power’s attorneys contended in a recent filing that the partner companies “are not willing to pass on to their customers costs that the Commission determined were unreasonable or imprudent to pass on to Georgia Power’s customers. In such an event, Georgia Power and the non-Georgia Power Owners could not continue to support a project that would lead to that result.”

PSC staffers argue that the statement, along with similar statements filed by Georgia Power, should be deleted from the record as hearsay because none of the partners were identified and their comments were not made under oath.

Georgia Power does not agree with that legal stance.

“We disagree with the motion to strike as hearsay portions of Georgia Power’s VCM 17 report and plan to file a response with the Georgia PSC,” company spokesman Jacob Hawkins said.  “The portions in question are factual, do not meet the legal definition of hearsay and are solely intended to provide support for the co-owners’ unified recommendation to move forward with construction of the Vogtle project.”

“In addition to pre-filed testimony, the Georgia PSC will have [an] opportunity to hear directly from the other co-owners during the hearings scheduled for the week of Nov. 6,” Hawkins said.

The Public Service Commission has said it will rule in February on whether the Vogtle project should continue or not.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Georgia Power , Plant Vogtle , PSC