EPC contract signed for new Vogtle units

09 April 2008

The AP1000 consortium of Shaw and Westinghouse has signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract (EPC) with Georgia Power for two new 1100 MWe nuclear units at the existing Vogtle nuclear power station near Augusta, Georgia. 


Vogtle Night 
Vogtle by night
Under the agreement, the consortium will supply and construct the entire facility with the exception of 'certain items' provided by the plant's co-owners, although exact contract terms, conditions and value have not yet been released. The contract will now be submitted to the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) for approval as part of overall plans for power supply in the state. Georgia Power's Carol Boatright told the Augusta Chronicle: "If the PSC approves, we are going forward with the new units." 


Georgia Power's parent company Southern Nuclear Operating Company lodged an application for a combined construction and operating licence (COL) for the new units with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on 1 April, following a 2006 application for an Early Site Permit. It took those steps on behalf of the other firms that own stakes in Vogtle: Oglethorp Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities, which will now submit bids for shares of the new reactors' output.


Subject to approvals, the two units are slated to enter service alongsite Vogtle's two existing reactors in 2016 and 2017. Georgia Power president and CEO Mike Garrett said: "We expect demand for electricity in the Southeast - specifically in Georgia - to increase significantly by 2015 and beyond," adding that "nuclear power is a safe, reliable, cost-effective power source that has a low impact on the environment. We are experiencing tremendous price volatility with natural gas and coal and believe we should further balance our portfolio with other fuel sources. It is a prudent business decision to preserve nuclear energy as an option to meet that need."


Shaw chairman, president and CEO JM Berhnard described the EPC contract as a "landmark event" for the company. Fourteen AP1000s are currently planned by US utilities according to the NRC, which has already received COL applications for eight of them, and the Shaw-Westinghouse AP1000 consortium recently announced it is making headway towards an EPC for Progress Energy's two planned units in Florida.


There are now nine full COL applications for 15 new nuclear power reactors in the USA. These will take some three years to process, and the granting of any does not commit the applicant to build. Eight firms, representing 14 possible new reactors, have made additional commitments to new build by starting to purchase heavy equipment such as reactor vessels and steam generators, or entering into contracts for building the plants. These seem to represent various levels of commitment, right up to full (EPC) contracts.