INSTITUTE INDEX: Fighting nuclear power's money grab

Date on which the Southern Co. filed a notice with federal securities regulators reporting that its project to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Ga. was experiencing massive cost overruns: 5/7/2012

Size of the reported overruns: over $900 million

Value of the taxpayer-backed federal loan guarantee that the Southern Co. received from the Obama administration for the Vogtle project: $8.3 billion

Number of times by which that exceeds the federal loan guarantee received by Solyndra, the California-based solar company that came under fire for declaring bankruptcy after taking the money: 15

Year in which the Georgia legislature passed a law allowing Southern Co. to finance the new Vogtle reactors through a scheme called "construction work in progress" (CWIP), which forces ratepayers to pay for them in advance: 2009

Number of provisions in the Georgia CWIP law allowing ratepayers to recoup their advance should the project be canceled because of regulatory or other problems: 0

Date on which a coalition of nuclear watchdog groups filed a lawsuit to pull the federal license for the Vogtle reactors, charging that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is violating federal law by failing to adequately address the implications of the Fukushima disaster: 2/16/2012

Year in which the Florida legislature passed its own CWIP law: 2006

Because of that that law, amount that Progress Energy's Florida ratepayers already must pay for preliminary work on two reactors at a new plant in Levy County: $1.1 billion

Amount that must be refunded to ratepayers under the Florida CWIP law if the Levy County reactors are never built, which some industry experts think is a possibility: $0

Factor by which the cost estimate for the Levy County plant has grown since Progress Energy first proposed the project: 4

Amount the Levy reactors are now expected to cost: $24 billion

Year in which the North Carolina legislature passed a CWIP law at the urging of Duke Energy and Progress Energy, reversing a 1982 ban on the financing approach imposed after the failure of nuclear projects in the 1970s and early 1980s left customers footing big bills for nothing: 2007

Date on which a coalition of groups called Consumers Against Rate Hikes announced they would fight new legislation sought by Duke and Progress in North Carolina allowing the utilities to even more easily pass the costs of new reactors on to customers -- an approach some have dubbed "super CWIP" or "super CWIP plus": 5/15/2012

Date on which Vermont law professor and former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Peter Bradford visited North Carolina to make presentations to state officials about the risk such legislation presents to utility customers and the economy: 5/29/2012

Date on which a Florida state senator wrote to Gov. Beverly Perdue warning her about the disaster the "super CWIP plus" approach has turned out to be for his state: 2/17/2011

Date on which the same Florida lawmaker, Sen. Mike Fasano (R-11), wrote to his state's Public Service Commission asking it to deny rate hikes for new reactors, saying he has "changed his mind about the wisdom of such a policy" that "socializes the risk of reactor investments while privatizing the gain": 5/17/2012

Increase in monthly bills that Duke Energy's and Progress Energy's North Carolina customers could see under the enhanced CWIP law: $50

Percent of likely North Carolina voters who said in a recent poll that they oppose the legislation: 89

Percent who said they'd be less likely to support elected officials who supported the law: 81

In the same poll, percent of likely voters who said they thought the state's energy policy should focus on building new nuclear capacity: 21

Percent who said it should focus instead on energy efficiency and renewable sources like wind and solar: 65

(Click on figure to go to source. For a copy of former Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Peter Bradford's presentation on CWIP to North Carolina officials, click here.)