Georgia Power has pushed back the in-service dates for its troubled Vogtle Units 3 and 4 expansion project—the first new nuclear power plant construction to be completed in years—by maybe another quarter or more.
The utility originally had hoped to make Unit 3 commercial operational by this year, but numerous cost overruns and construction problems have caused more delays. Now, Southern Co.-owned Georgia Power says Unit 3 may not start operations until July and maybe as late as September 2022, while Unit 4 will not come online until the second quarter of 2023.
“The primary drivers of the change in schedule for Unit 3 include continued identification of additional remediation work, construction productivity related to completion of remaining electrical installations and remediation work, and the subsequent resulting pace of system turnovers,” reads the company press release. “The primary drivers of the change in schedule for Unit 4 include productivity challenges and some craft and support resources being diverted temporarily to support construction efforts on Unit 3.
“The achievability of these projected in-service dates is subject to current and future challenges, including construction productivity, the volume of construction remediation work, the pace of system and area turnovers, and the progression of startup and other testing. Any further delays could result in later in-service dates.”
This summer, Georgia Power reported that both the projected starting dates would be pushed back and costs would rise by billions. Recent estimates put the overall tab of the project at close to $28 billion.
Work on Vogtle units 3 and 4 began in 2015. Two years later, the original contractor Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, so Bechtel was brought in to lead construction efforts to the finish line. Southern Nuclear took oversight duties from Westinghouse.
Both Vogtle units will have Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the center. Each of the units are designed to generate about 1,000 MW at capacity and together will power close to 500,000 customers.
Unit 3 direct construction is now 99 percent complete, with the entire project at about 93 percent complete. The construction site now has close to 7,000 workers, with about 800 permanent jobs planned once the units begin operating.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission revealed it was launching a special inspection into remediation work on Unit 3 related to the electrical cable raceway system.
If and when they go into service, Vogtle units 3 and 4 would be the first new U.S. nuclear generation reactors since Watts Bar 2 entered operation six years ago.
Georgia Power’s lead partners on the project include the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG), Dalton Power and Oglethorpe Power. Southern Co. is the parent of Georgia Power.