New Projects, Nuclear, Reactors

First nuclear fuel order placed for Vogtle expansion project

Georgia Power has ordered the first nuclear fuel load for Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear expansion project.

The fuel order marks another milestone for the Vogtle expansion near Waynesboro, Georgia. A group led by Georgia Power is spending close to $25 billion adding two new reactor units to the facility.

The nuclear fuel order will be the first placed for a newly designed U.S. reactor in more than 30 years, the utility noted. Consisting of 157 fuel assemblies with each measuring 14 feet tall, the fuel will eventually be loaded into the Unit 3 reactor vessel to support startup once the reactor begins operating.

After this initial fueling, approximately one third of the total fuel assemblies will be replaced during each refueling outage after the units begin operating, similar to the process used at existing Vogtle units 1 and 2.

The fuel order for Vogtle Unit 3 comes just months after the placement of the containment vessel top, which was witnessed by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, North America’s Building Trades Unions President Sean McGarvey, members of Congress and all five members of the Georgia Public Service Commission.

The vessel top placement signifies that all modules and large components have been placed inside the unit. 

In addition, the placement of three low-pressure turbine rotors and the generator rotor inside the Unit 3 turbine building have also been completed. The turbine rotors, weighing approximately 200 tons each and rotating at 1,800 revolutions per minute, will pass steam through the turbine blades to power the generator and supply electricity to the grid. The high-pressure turbine rotor will be installed in the coming weeks.

The generator rotor is the moving component of the electromagnetic system of the electric generator. As the turbines rotate, they turn the generator rotor. The generator rotor is surrounded by the generator stator that work together creating an electromagnetic field to generate electricity.

Some 8,000 workers are on site as the project owners hope to be completed and operational sometime in the first half of the next decade. Vogtle is the only nuclear reactor project currently under construction in the U.S.

Georgia Power is the lead owner, working with Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities. Georgia Power is a division of Southern Co.