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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Oglethorpe Power Corporation is a Victim of the Southern Company’s Fraud Scheme

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on April 17, 2023

IMAGE: Oglethorpe Power Corp. made its 2021 ad valorem tax payment of $33,388,572 to the Burke County Tax Commissioner’s office. The payment represents Oglethorpe Power’s 30 percent ownership in Units 1 and 2 of the Alvin W. Vogtle nuclear plant now operating in Burke County, and its 30 percent ownership of Vogtle Units 3 and 4, which are currently under construction.

On June 21, 2022, Oglethorpe Power Company filed a lawsuit against Georgia Power Company in the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia. Georgia Power is a wholly owned affiliate of the Atlanta-based Southern Company.

This "Preliminary Statement" in the complaint tells us everything we need to know about Georgia Power and the Southern Company:

“This case arises from Georgia Power’s refusal to honor the deal it struck with

Oglethorpe and accept responsibility for Georgia Power’s share of massive cost overruns in the construction of nuclear power-generating Units 3 and 4 at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric

Generating Plant (“Vogtle Units 3 and 4”). For years Oglethorpe has paid for its share of billions of dollars in cost overruns for Vogtle Units 3 and 4, with Georgia Power’s assurance and agreement that if cost overruns reached a certain point, Georgia Power, who is responsible for construction of the project, would step in and take responsibility. Now that the cost overruns have reached that point and beyond, Oglethorpe has called on Georgia Power to stand by its commitment. Instead of honoring that commitment, however, Georgia Power denies it and seeks to shift still more cost overruns onto Oglethorpe. This complaint is brought to hold Georgia Power accountable for its promises.

Oglethorpe, which owns 30% of Vogtle Units 3 and 4, discovered for itself that Georgia Power is a cheater that reneges on written contracts. At the time Oglethorpe filed its lawsuit last June, the company did not know that Georgia Power's parent company, the Southern Company, was running a massive accounting fraud scheme and racketeering enterprise that victimized Oglethorpe and many other innocent people and entities.

Here is what the Vogtle cost overruns looked like when Oglethorpe filed its lawsuit against Georgia Power for breach of contract, bad faith, and stubborn litigiousness. "VCM" is a reference to "Vogtle Construction Monitoring" reports.

The Southern Company's Mismanagement of Vogtle Units 3 and 4 Has Been a Nightmare for Oglethorpe

Today, the Vogtle construction project is $21 billion over the original cost estimate of $14 billion. The two reactors under construction are nearly six years behind schedule. Contractor delays, shoddy workmanship, rework projects, the inability to complete tasks on time, and the bankruptcy of reactor designer Westinghouse Electric Co. have more than doubled the project’s costs.

The Southern Company's mismanagement of Vogtle Units 3 and 4 has been a nightmare of epic proportions for Oglethorpe.

Georgia Power is a for-profit corporation that has repeatedly exercised its ability

to push its Vogtle project cost overruns to the shareholders of the Southern Company and the customers of its affiliates.

Oglethorpe, by contrast, has no shareholders. Instead, Oglethorpe is a not-for profit

Georgia electric membership cooperative that provides power to 38 members that are also

not-for-profit electric membership cooperatives. These cooperatives, in turn, provide electricity to more than four million rural homes and businesses in 151 of 159 of Georgia’s counties. The people bearing the burden of Oglethorpe’s share of Georgia Power’s cost overruns for Vogtle Units 3 and 4 are the rural Georgians served by Oglethorpe and its member cooperatives.

The passage of time has revealed that the Southern Company is nothing more that a slick and polished Wall Street corporate "thug." The company is faking profitability until it can place Units 3 and 4 into commercial service.

In the interest of justice, I have decided to provide Oglethorpe with access to the Southern Company documents it needs to amend its pending lawsuit to: (a) add the Southern Company as a second defendant, (b) add fraud and racketeering claims against both defendants, (c) and add a request for triple times Oglethorpe's actual losses, plus punitive damages against Georgia Power and the Southern Company.

Eversheds Sutherland, LLP, which represents Oglethorpe in its lawsuit against Georgia Power, has been my principal corporate law firm in Europe and Africa since 2012. I will make sure that Oglethorpe gets everything it needs to win its "David versus Goliath" battle against Georgia Power and the Southern Company.


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