Latest delay to Vogtle project may not be the last

December 8, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Vogtle Units 3 (in foreground) and 4, in November. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power has revised the projected commercial operation dates for Vogtle-3 and -4 a total of four times this year—most recently in October—but some experts are saying that at least one more delay is probable.

In testimony filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) last week, Donald Grace, vice president of engineering for the Vogtle Monitoring Group, stated that the commercial operation dates for Unit 3 and Unit 4 “will most likely not be achieved any earlier than November 2022/2023, respectively, and perhaps as late as February 2023/2024, respectively.” (Georgia Power on October 21 announced a projected commercial operation date of third-quarter 2022 for Unit 3 and second-quarter 2023 for Unit 4.)

Grace also said that the regulatory required total project cost of $17.1 billion would be exceeded by roughly $3 billion to $3.4 billion, resulting in a total project cost range of roughly $20.1 billion to $20.5 billion. The delays and cost increase, he added, were largely attributable to construction quality issues with electrical equipment and systems, which have resulted in heightened oversight of Vogtle-3 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Vogtle Monitoring Group was hired by the PSC in 2018 to independently evaluate Southern Nuclear Company’s ability to successfully manage the completion of the project to build two 1,100-MWe AP1000 pressurized water reactors at the site in Waynesboro, Ga.

Corroboration: In a separate filing on December 1, Steven Roetger, PSC analyst and team leader for Vogtle project monitoring, and William Jacobs, executive consultant with GDS Associates, expressed basic agreement with Grace’s conclusions, saying, “This level of schedule performance does little to inspire confidence in the company’s ability to accurately forecast progress on the project. We have testified in many prior [Vogtle Construction Monitoring Reports] that the schedules provided by the company are not achievable. As discussed in more detail further in this testimony, the company’s lack of reasonable and achievable schedules has had and continues to have negative impacts to the project.”

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