CWIP stands for Construction Work in Progress and is a statewide corporate nuclear tax that all Georgia residential and small business electricity customers are currently paying on their utility bills.
©2013 Tom Ferguson
Georgia lawmakers passed the controversial CWIP measure, also known as "Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act" in 2009 which made it legal for Georgia Power and Georgia electric companies to force customers to pay upfront for nuclear reactor construction. This is a form of corporate socialism in that the public pays for the Vogtle nuclear project and the corporation reaps the profits. When, and if, the reactors are completed, the companies will charge customers again to use the product for which they already paid.
CWIP is listed on your Georgia Power bill as "Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery" and the amount is a 7% hidden tax on your electricity use every month. If your electricity provider is a local utility and they are in Georgia they are charging you CWIP whether they list it on your bill or not. It is a few dollars every month per customer but puts billions into Georgia Power’s pocket because this sweetheart deal also guarantees Georgia Power an 10.95% profit.
The CWIP nuclear tax is a financial mechanism by which Georgia Power avoids the risk of building the Vogtle reactors by charging ratepayers higher rates to cover future costs of constructing two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle, even if those reactors are never completed.
The statewide corporate nuclear tax (CWIP) forces consumers to become investors in risky future nuclear reactors without receiving any stocks, bonds or dividends from the corporation. The citizens of Georgia are paying for the construction of the reactors in addition to paying for the electricity they use while Georgia Power rakes in the profits.
©2013 Tom Ferguson
CWIP is a rip-off game from beginning to end, because the Public Service Commissioners rubberstamp the financial schemes of monopolistic Georgia Power instead of protecting the interests of Georgia ratepayers. So far the PSC has approved several rate hikes with many more in our future. Under the corporate CWIP nuclear tax, utility customers will continue to pay periodic rate increases to pay interest to bondholders and returns to shareholders on capital invested in nuclear power plants. When citizens complain about this unfair tax to the PSC, they say ìit’s not our fault, take it to the legislature — they are the ones that passed the law.
CWIP gives Georgia Power a virtual "blank check" that encourages an attitude of relaxed responsibility toward controlling construction costs. As evidenced by their being $1.6 billion over budget the first few months of construction, this lack of responsibility in controlling construction costs increases the cost of the reactors and the cost of nuclear power to residential and small business customers who are already suffering financially from the prolonged recession.
Seniors may pay the nuclear tax for years and never use the the power from Vogtle, because the reactors may go on line after their death, if ever. Southern Company and its Vogtle partners serve a wide market and the nuclear electricity may be sold to other states and not Georgia.
Nuclear Watch South is running an education campaign to Repeal the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act and Stop the Nuclear CWIP Tax. We will be traveling around the state of Georgia to meet with local groups and citizens to familiarize folks with CWIP. At the center of our campaign is a simple petition to show legislators that the people do not want to pay a forced tax to build new reactors. Please sign the petition. If you wish to do more you may download the petition and gather signatures from your neighbors and friends. Contact Nuclear Watch South to invite us to come and talk to your group or friends.
In a LETTER to Obama, four groups — the National Taxpayers Union, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the George Marshall Institute and the Non-Proliferation Policy Education Center — oppose an expansion of loan guarantees for new nuclear plants: "With hundreds of billions in bailouts already on the shoulders of U.S. taxpayers, the country cannot afford to move forward with a program that could easily become the black hole for hundreds of billions more."
Conservative Heritage Foundation's, David Kreutzer, a senior policy analyst in energy economic and climate change, warned against expanding loan guarantees: "This authorized $18.5 billion in loan guarantees will help build a handful of new nuclear reactors but any expansion of subsidies, tax credits or loan guarantees is a bad idea for taxpayers, consumers and long-term industry competitiveness. Continuing subsidies reduce the incentive to contain costs, create government dependence and stifle competition and technological development within the nuclear energy industry."
Economist Dr. Mark Cooper at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, authored a report in June that found it would cost $1.9 trillion to $4.1 trillion more over the life of 100 new nuclear reactors than it would to generate the same electricity from a combination of more energy efficiency and renewables.
Peter Bradford, former NRC Commissioner: "Of 26 new nuclear reactor license applications submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 2007, nine have been canceled or suspended indefinitely in the last 10 months. Ten more have been delayed by one to five years. The Tennessee Valley Authority has canceled plans to revive a partially built unit.’”