Vogtle in-service dates and cost forecast revised

29 July 2021

Georgia Power today said it now projects an in-service date in the second quarter of 2022 for Vogtle unit 3 and in the first quarter of 2023 for Vogtle unit 4, three-to-four months later than previously expected for each unit. The total project capital cost forecast has been revised to reflect the updated schedule, resulting in a USD460 million increase to Georgia Power. Meanwhile, hot functional testing has been completed at Vogtle 3.

Vogtle 3 and 4 pictured earlier this month (Image: Georgia Power)

The schedule changes are the result of productivity challenges and additional time for testing and quality assurance.

"Georgia Power is focused on safety and quality as we complete this project," Georgia Power President and CEO Chris Womack said, adding that the project remains a critical investment to provide low-cost, reliable and emissions-free electricity for the state of Georgia for 60 to 80 years. 

"This is too important to our customers, our state and our nation for us not to get it right, and we will," he said. "We knew building the first new nuclear units in the US in more than 30 years would be challenging. The project has endured extraordinary circumstances during construction, including the pandemic as the most recent."

Hot functional testing of unit 3 has now been successfully completed with no significant issues identified, Womack said. Hot functional testing involves bringing plant systems to normal operating pressure and temperature, without nuclear fuel, to verify the successful operation of reactor components and systems together, and is a critical step towards plant completion. Direct construction of Vogtle 3 is now 99% complete, with the overall Vogtle 3 & 4 expansion project about 93% complete, the company said.

Georgia Power's share of the total project capital cost forecast is now USD9.2 billion, although the company said it has not sought approval of any capital costs above the USD7.3 billion previously approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission. Special protections are in place for customers during construction, including a reduction in the company's return on investment for the project with every month of delay equating to an incrementally lower return, which translates into lower bill impacts during construction.

Construction of Vogtle unit 3 began in March 2013 and unit 4 in November the same year. Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power, both subsidiaries of Southern Company, took over management of the project to build the two AP1000 units in 2017 following Westinghouse's Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Until today's announcement Georgia Power had said it expected to meet regulatory-approved in-service dates of November 2021 and November 2022 for units 3 and 4, respectively.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News