Vogtle project team reports delays, holds to approved start dates

October 28, 2020, 9:46AMNuclear News

In testimony filed last week with the Georgia Public Service Commission, Georgia Power and Southern Nuclear acknowledge that the “aggressive” target dates set in July for some of the Vogtle construction project’s upcoming milestones have had to be pushed back by a few months. At the same time, however, the companies continue to express confidence in being able to meet the regulatory-approved commercial start dates for the new reactors—November 2021 for Unit 3 and November 2022 for Unit 4.

The testimony was filed in support of Georgia Power’s Twenty-third Semi-annual Vogtle Construction Monitoring Report, released in August, which covers the period from January 1 to June 30, 2020.

Milestone update: According to the filing by Stephen Kuczynski, Southern Nuclear’s chairman, president, and chief executive officer, and Aaron Abramovitz, vice president of business operations for the project, “With Unit 3 direct construction approximately 94 percent complete, CHT [cold hydro testing] complete, and as the site begins to shift its focus towards commencing operations, our range of completion outcomes continues to narrow. For Unit 3, we are shifting from an aggressive site work plan to more of an expectation for the timing of remaining activities and major milestones. Considering impacts from COVID-19 and the recent productivity of electrical, and subcontracted scopes of work in Unit 3, the project team has moved the HFT [hot functional testing], fuel load, and [commercial operation dates] out by approximately 12 weeks from the July 2020 schedule update dates. These changes will allow Construction additional time to finish required scopes of work to support the success of these remaining project milestones. Project leadership will continue to evaluate the site work plan for opportunities to complete work efficiently while also attempting to reduce risk to the successful startup of plant operations.”

New dates: Vogtle-3’s July 2020 “aggressive site schedule” dates for hot functional testing, fuel loading, and commercial operation were October 2020, December 2020, and May 2021, respectively. The readjusted dates for these milestones are January 2021, April 2021, and the third quarter of 2021. Southern Nuclear said that hot functional testing could start as late as the end of March 2021 and fuel loading as late as mid-year 2021 without jeopardizing Vogtle-3’s November 2021 regulatory approved in-service date.

Also, while the Vogtle project team continues to characterize Unit 4’s schedule dates as “aggressive,” the hot functional testing, fuel loading, and commercial operation dates have been moved from October 2021, January 2022, and May 2022, respectively, to November 2021, February 2022, and June 2022.

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