Georgia PSC approves new Vogtle units

18 March 2009

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has voted 4-1 to approve Georgia Power's plan to construct two new nuclear power reactors at its existing Vogtle plant.

Vogtle - new reactors
The future look of the Vogtle site? (Image: Southern)
However, a majority of the commission adopted a motion by Commissioner Stan Wise to adopt a stipulation signed by both Georgia Power and the Commission Public Interest Advocacy Staff. In addition, Wise's motion would allow Georgia Power to recover the cost of financing the plant during construction, known as Construction Work in Progress (CWIP). It also approved a recommendation for the company and the PSC to work together to develop an alternative risk sharing mechanism to provide some protection from significant cost overruns to ratepayers.
Wise said, "CWIP will save customers money and better ensure that the creditworthiness of the company can withstand the financing of these costs, which again saves customers money."
The stipulation adopted by the PSC sets Georgia Power's portion of the certified cost of the new units at $6.446 billion. It says the company will pay up to $600,000 annually for each year of building work for an independent Construction Monitor. In addition, it requires Georgia Power to file semi-annual construction monitoring and quarterly status reports with the PSC.
Georgia Power filed its certification request with the Georgia PSC in August 2008. The PSC held three rounds of hearings in November and December 2008 and in January 2009, during which witnesses presented testimony and parties entered evidence to support their filings.
In April 2008, Georgia Power's parent company, Southern Nuclear Operating Company, lodged an application with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a combined construction and operating licence (COL) for two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors on the Vogtle site. This followed a 2006 application for an Early Site Permit (ESP). Southern took those steps on behalf of the other firms that own stakes in Vogtle: Oglethorpe Power (30%); Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, MEAG (22.7%); and, Dalton Utilities (1.6%). Georgia Power owns the remaining 45.7% of Vogtle.
Also in April 2008, the AP1000 consortium of Shaw and Westinghouse signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract (EPC) with Georgia Power for the two new 1100 MWe nuclear units at Vogtle. 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.
Subject to approvals, the two new units - Vogtle units 3 and 4 - are scheduled to enter service alongside the plant's two existing reactors in 2016 and 2017.
Unit 1 at Vogtle began commercial operation in May 1987, while Unit 2 began in May 1989. Each of the Westinghouse pressurized water reactors (PWRs) is capable of generating 1215 MWe.