Perry: Vogtle project is 'critically important'

22 March 2019

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has finalised further federal loan guarantees of USD3.7 billion for the continued construction of Vogtle units 3 and 4, Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced today during a visit to the construction site near Waynesboro, Georgia.

Vogtle 3's top head was lifted into place today (Image: Georgia Power)

During the visit Perry also witnessed the placement of the top of the containment vessel for unit 3, signifying that all modules and large components have been placed inside the unit.

"The Vogtle project is critically important to supporting the Administration's direction to revitalise and expand the US nuclear industry," Perry said. "A strong nuclear industry supports a reliable and resilient grid, and strengthens our energy and national security. As I've witnessed first-hand today, Vogtle is also an energy infrastructure project with a massive scope employing thousands of workers. This project is rebuilding a highly skilled US nuclear workforce and supply chain for the future."

The loan guarantees issued by the DOE are: up to USD1.67 billion for Georgia Power, which owns 45.7% of the units; up to USD1.6 billion to Oglethorpe Power Corporation, which owns 30%; and up to USD415 million to three subsidiaries of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power), which owns 22.7%. The department had previously announced conditional commitments for the additional loan guarantees in September 2017. The DOE will now guarantee a total of up to USD12 billion in loans for the project, including existing guarantees of up to USD8.3 billion in loans to GPC, OPC, and the MEAG Power subsidiaries provided in 2014 and 2015.

Georgia Power President and CEO Paul Bowers said the loan guarantees play a key role by reducing financing costs, enabling benefits to be passed to customers. "We thank the administration, DOE, Secretary Rick Perry and members of Congress for their continued support of the Vogtle 3 & 4 project," he said.

Tom Fanning, president and CEO of Georgia Power's parent, Southern Company, said progress at the plant was a "direct result" of the "tremendous support" the project had received. "From the very beginning, public and private partners have stood with us as we endeavour to build the first new nuclear development in the US in a generation," he said.

Construction of Vogtle units 3 and 4 began in 2013 and the AP1000 units - the first new nuclear units to be built in the USA in over 30 years - are scheduled to enter service in November 2021 and November 2022. Following reactor vendor Westinghouse's March 2017 bankruptcy filing, the owners decided to continue with the project, with work proceeding under the project management of Southern Nuclear. Daily construction is managed by Bechtel.

Bowers said placement of the Unit 3 top head, which is 130 feet (39.6 metres) in diameter, 37 feet tall and weighs nearly 1.5 million pounds (680 tonnes), was a "historic milestone" for the project. "We have made significant progress since taking over construction at the site and expect that momentum to continue this year," he said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News