Plant Vogtle, Waynesboro, Georgia Plant Vogtle, Waynesboro, Georgia (Photo: Denton Rumsey/Shutterstock)

Environmental lawyers filed a challenge Monday to the Georgia Public Service Commission’s decision to approve billions of dollars in cost overruns for the Plant Vogtle nuclear facility expansion.

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a petition for appeal in Fulton County Superior Court, charging that the PSC action violates state law and puts Georgia Power corporate financial interests above its customers.

“Petitioners appeal the Commission’s decision to approve, in violation of Georgia law and the Commission’s own rules, the continuation of the nuclear expansion project at Plant Vogtle despite a near doubling of the original project budget and a five-year delay in the date of commercial operation,” the appeal petition said. “The decision ensures Georgia Power Company billions in additional profit while saddling ratepayers with billions in additional expense.”

“The Commissioners rushed a decision concerning the single most expensive capital project in state history, giving Georgia Power everything it asked for and sticking customers with all the risk,” Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Kurt Ebersbach said in a news release Monday. “Unless corrected, this error will have grave implications for decades to come. It rewards failure.”

The environmental law center filed the challenge on behalf of the Partnership for Southern Equity, a nonprofit organization devoted to shared prosperity, and Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, a ministry that promotes stewardship of natural resources.

The groups charged that the PSC violated Georgia law and its own governing rules by approving billions of dollars in extra costs for expanding the nuclear power plant. They alleged the commission failed to give detailed consideration to new circumstances, which include a doubling of the project cost and more than five years of delay. They said the decision approves continuing the project but without any detailed findings or conclusions supporting why that is the best path forward for customers.

A PSC spokesperson said he could not comment.

The appeal noticed Georgia Power’s legal team at Troutman Sanders, including Kevin Greene, Brandon Marzo and Steve Hewitson. They referred an inquiry to the Georgia Power corporate office.

A spokesman for Georgia Power said by email Tuesday, “We believe the decision by the Georgia PSC to continue the Vogtle project was well within its authority and complied with all applicable laws.”