How Advance Cost Recovery Swindled the South

February 8, 2018

How did the legal innovation of “advance cost recovery” allow utilities in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi to torch more than $40 billion on nuclear and coal plants that went way over budget or never produced a single kilowatt-hour of electricity? And what if this story is more than just a few poor decisions about a handful of power plants, but instead a long history of reckless behavior, if not outright fraud and corruption, by contractors, utilities, their regulators, and legislators, which customers in the South will be paying off for years to come? And what can be done to prevent such boondoggles in the future?

Our guest in this episode is a reporter from the Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper, The Post and Courier, of Charleston, South Carolina, who has been contributing to a terrific series of articles about what went wrong with these power plants, by doing good old-fashioned investigative journalism. It’s a pretty incredible story they have uncovered and continue to tell in their newspaper every week as they work to uncover the truth and protect consumers. After you hear this jaw-dropper, you’ll probably never take the prospect of US nuclear or clean coal seriously ever again.

Geek rating: 2

Guest: Thad Moore is a business reporter at The Post and Courier and a member of the newspaper’s team covering South Carolina’s failed nuclear project. He’s previously reported for The Washington Post, Tampa Bay Times, The Denver Post and The Virginian-Pilot.

On Twitter: @thadmoore

On the Web:

Thad Moore’s personal home page

Thad Moore’s page at the Post and Courier

Recording date: January 12, 2018

Air date: February 7, 2018

Chris Nelder

Chris is an energy analyst, journalist, and investor, who consults and lectures on energy investing and policy. During a decade of studying energy, he has written two books on investing and energy Profit from the Peak and Investing in Renewable Energy, as well as over 900 blog posts and articles.

Tags: coal-fired power plants, Electricity, nuclear power plants