Photo of construction cranes working on the Vogtle nuclear power plant

Atlanta-based electric utility company Georgia Power and their parent company, Southern Company, have announced they are on the cusp of missing a crucial deadline to construct two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia. 

According to a March of 2021 report from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, delays at Plant Vogtle have been all too common, and this setback “could further increase consumer costs on a project already years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.”

For four contractors that serviced Plant Vogtle in 2018, maneuvering around project cost overruns and delays were not their only obstacles. 

The contractors were also involved in four separate unpaid construction work claims — commonly referred to as mechanics liens — against Georgia Power and the project surety, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. 

In total, the four contractors were owed a combined $9,438,631.20 following complaints filed between February and June of 2018. 

According to the US District Court of the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division, each complaint pursued against the project surety and Georgia Power related to lien claims were filed by the following contractors: 

Georgia Power’s quarterly report from March 19, 2021, states the current construction at Plant Vogtle “will be delayed into April.” 

The quarterly report includes a laundry list of reasons behind the struggles at Plant Vogtle, including “changes in labor costs, availability, and productivity, challenges with management of contractors or vendors, subcontractor performance, adverse weather conditions, shortages, delays, increased costs, or inconsistent quality of equipment.”

Additionally, the effects of COVID-19 are cited as an additional contributing factor. 

The Vogtle project has been surrounded by payment disputes for several years. Back in 2012, two contractors involved in the Vogtle expansion project were ousted nearly $30 million in unpaid work, also resulting in a payment dispute. 

As reported by Power Magazine in September of 2018, Plant Vogtle’s expansion costs have only continued to escalate since as far back as 2006. 

Georgia Power sued by contractor at Plant Bowen

Aside from the current disputes and delays surrounding the Vogtle project, Georgia Power has recently faced payment disputes at other plants. On June 23, 2020, subcontractor Ground/Water Treatment & Technology of Wharton, New Jersey filed a complaint against Georgia Power for unpaid work taking place at Plant Bowen in Euharlee, Georgia. 

The complaint, which was also processed by the US District Court of the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division, states the subcontractor was owed $7,199,177.29 for completing a long-term wastewater treatment system at the nuclear facility. Plant Bowen has been in operation since 1975.

Ground/Water Treatment & Technology’s complaint included five counts: breach of written contract, breach of oral contract, quantum meruit, unjust enrichment, and attorney’s fees and expenses of litigation.